Think trainers are too casual or sporty to be deemed appropriate office attire? Think again.
As we move into the post-pandemic era, smart leather sneakers are becoming the norm for corporate settings and there are now few occasions where a pair of crisp, box-fresh kicks can’t work.
Sure, the office attire debate is nothing new. Assumptions that suits with brogues or pencil dresses with high heels equate to heightened productivity were already being questioned, particularly with the rise of Silicon Valley.
Just take a look at the roll-neck, jeans and trainers uniform of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Or the grey t-shirt, denim and sneakers look favoured by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The conversion, however, was supercharged thanks to the pandemic. As the world’s workforce was forced to set up home offices, comfort became key and this trend has continued to weave itself into our working wardrobes as we tentatively step back into the workplace.
According to a report from Shoeaholics, two in three Brits now say they wear trainers to the office.
“Even those who are returning to formal workplaces are increasingly confident to wear styles of shoe that would have been deemed unacceptable just a few years ago”, says Shoeaholics boss, Mark Hoyal-Mitchell.
Yet there is still a hierarchy of trainer styles – and this is where leather creeps in.
Fresh, sturdy and durable leather trainers designed in neutral colours set sartorial standards at a higher level than canvas fabrics or synthetic plastic pairs.
“Leather trainers have such appeal because they have combined the comfort and informality of a sports trainer with the elegance of a leather dress shoe. For many people it’s the perfect combination”, says Tim Little, CEO and creative director of Grenson.
“Many of our trainers are made from the same luxury calf leathers that our goodyear welted classics are made from.”
The average person in the UK owns a trainer wardrobe worth £474, meaning there is plenty of scope to buy sneakers suitable for different events. And it’s not just the big-name sports corporations like Nike and Adidas that are putting their best foot forward.
Where sports labels once dominated the market, designer brands like Balenciaga and Grenson are looking for a piece of the sneaker pie, and the high street has followed. When it comes to shopping for smart trainers, no make is off limits.
There is less of a demand for in-your-face branding adopted in the streetwear aesthetic or bold limited-edition colours that give extra fashion credentials. Instead, smarter trainers call for subtle logos. When it comes to designs, fresh white kicks still reign supreme.
Take, for example, 52-year-old actor Cate Blanchett who attended the Goya International Awards this year in a Giorgio Armani pink blazer with smart checked trousers and, you guessed it, sleek white trainers. Or rapper Kid Cudi, 38, who wore a brown suit with white kicks to the Vanity Fair Oscars party last month.
Black trainers, creams and pastel shades in summer are worth your attention, too.
Whether you choose to wear them with a suit, printed dress or midi skirt, leather trainers are the answer to 2022’s workwear wardrobe and here are some of our favourite pairs for you to slip on.