The technical trend that combines innovative fabrics and functional utility is everywhere right now in both apparel and footwear. Building off the chunky runner spectacle that began gaining traction in 2015, mainstay sneaker brands and luxury labels have been gravitating toward a more performance-focused approach.
Cycling back to the nostalgic design habits of the late ’90s, brands are now refueling their footwear ranges with that same nostalgic energy. Generally, these shoes combine a technical/trail running–inspired aesthetic with pumped-up properties like water-repellent uppers, breathable mesh paneling and 3M reflective accents for a contemporary appeal that’s still functional for running or combating harsh weather.
While the chunky runner trend focuses more on the bulky shape that runners of the early ’90s embodied, technical running footwear mimics the styles that one might actually wear while trail running or hiking. Often sleeker in their design than throwback running sneakers, technical running sneakers are notoriously designed with waterproof materials to keep feet dry, lugged outsole patterns for enhanced traction and greater cushioning in the midsoles to suppress impact during strides.
Here are five sneakers for you to consider that have taken the technical running and performance trend of 2019 by storm:
A defining style that has set the tone for street style in 2019, the Balenciaga Track Sneakers have become the catalyst for this season’s popular trend. Like their Triple-S Sneaker, the luxury sneaker that incited our Why Does Luxury Fashion Cost So Much? article and pioneered the chunky runner trend, this style refines the runner shape with elegant leather and breathable mesh paneling.
The layered upper is teamed with trail running–inspired outsoles that make these shoes easy to pair with vibrant anoraks, tailored cargo pants or polar fleece jackets. The Balenciaga Track Sneakers are now available at select retailers, like Matches.
Similar to Balenciaga’s layered look of the Track Sneaker above, the Nike Air Max 270 draws on original ’90s Nike ACG designs, fusing those nuances with its progressive Max Air cushioning unit that is elevated in the heel. Designed with a mono-sock construction that is somewhat similar to the style of a Sock Dart and Tinker Hatfield’s Air Presto Foot Tent offering, this shoe is layered with both ripstop and mesh paneling, while a toggle lace system creates easy on and off access.
The lugged tread pattern on the outsole gives these sneakers an off-road appeal, while the array of eccentric color pairings is intentionally made to match an assortment of vivid outdoor apparel styles, like all-weather clothes.
The Nike Air Max 270 Bowfin is now available at select sneaker accounts, like Sneaker Politics.
As fast as today’s technical apparel evolves, footwear is quickly catching up, exemplified by the Salomon S/Lab XT-6, which features a speedy toggle fastening system. The shoe’s upper incorporates sleek melded overlays that are met with mesh paneling for a virtually seamless design. Paired with vibrant color blocking, this shoe is tough to miss—appearing in both the streets and fashion week runway shows.
The Salomon S/Lab XT-6 is now available at select retailers, like Matches.
When it comes to running technology, Asics has established itself as a forerunner in the business, launching marathon-ready franchises like the Kayano and Nimbus collections.
Bulgarian designer Kiko Kostadinov essentially took both of the aforementioned styles and morphed them into a street-style powerhouse on the Gel-Burz silhouette. If you combine both footwear styles, the result is a contemporary variation that’s ready to gear up with the latest tech apparel must-haves.
Multiple evolutions within Asics and Kostadinov’s running partnership have led to additional projects, such as the Gel-Burz 2 and Gel-Delva, that also borrow design inspiration from more of Asics’ archived icons, all of which are continuing to match relevant performance apparel styles.
The Asics Kiko Kostadinov offerings have experienced a quick sell-through, but they are readily available on select reselling platforms, like the GOAT app.
Elevating the ugly sneaker trend to new heights, Gucci’s Journey silhouette is a hiker/runner fusion that blends intentionally bulbous aesthetics with equally technical components. While this sneaker features functional mesh paneling on its underlay, it also disrupts the norm with brash D-ring eyelets and a chunky lugged outsole that perfectly complete an outfit of track pants and a nylon parka.
The Gucci Journey is now available at select fashion accounts, like Matches.