Designers like Rick Owens, Raf Simons, and Yohji Yamamoto have long embraced the sportier side of footwear, while other labels have only recently joined the party. Meanwhile, brands like Common Projects have been making the case for luxury sneakers for a decade, and have earned a special sort of street cred. Before you pull the trigger on yet another pair, here’s a primer on some of the hottest purveyors of high-end kicks.

Y-3

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Founded 2003 in Tokyo, legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto’s collaborative line with Adidas, Y-3, was making forward-thinking sportswear a full decade before “athleisure” was a marketing buzzword and “goth ninja” became the go-to descriptor of all things dark, designer, and drapey. Yamamoto’s Qasa silhouette has become an integral part of Adidas’ newfound fashion relevance, and when an early sketch was turned into the more democratically priced Adidas Tubular models, his design prowess trickled to the masses.

Price range: $280-$410
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ARTICLE NO.

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: LA is having a bit of a style renaissance, and new-kids-on-the-sneaker-block Article No. are part of the wave. Founded by Ant de Padovane in 2015, Michael Jonte, and brothers Joshua and Jacob Willis (also the guys behind mesnwear brand Second/Layer), Article No. blends fine sculptural influences with a futuristic sportiness to create aggressively athletic shoes that’ll make even the most jaded Rick Owens fan’s eyes widen just a tad. More minimal guys will find solace in pared-down models that offer contrast pops on the heel and toebox.

Price range: $180-$300
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ETQ AMSTERDAM

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: ETQ is a Dutch sneaker company established with the premise that when you’re paying good money for a sneaker, it should be for quality and not the brand name. Ironic then, that five years after its launch, ETQ has built up quite a good bit of brand recognition on the strength of its sleek, minimal sneakers that can be worn with just about anything—even suits. The shoes are made in small qualities in artisanal Portuguese factories, out of materials like calf leather and suede, and still cost far less than most kicks that come from a luxury fashion house—or even designer collaborations from Nike and Adidas.

Price range: $260-$380
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COMMON PROJECTS

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Founded 2005 in New York, Common Projects is undoubtedly patient zero for the current minimal-luxury-sneakers craze. The Achilles has become a holy grail for recovering Jordan-fiends as much as it has for aspiring fashion nerds. Its cross-cultural appeal predated the muddled “mix everything together” world of modern menswear, and it looks good with just about everything. While people are currently foaming at the mouth for a pair of suede Common Projects Chelsea boots, the undeniable appeal of the straightforward and sexy Achilles is fast proving that the shoe has achieved that covetable “timeless” status.

Price range: $400-$700
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MAISON MARGIELA

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Even though John Galliano is currently at the helm of the fashion house, Maison Margiela’s designer footwear legacy remains relatively untouched. Founded 1988 in Paris, its most prominent product is an upscale reinterpretation of a standard-issue German army trainer sneaker, done up in white leather with suede accents and a gum sole. It’s also been reinterpreted in numerous colorways and treatments, ranging from meticulous paint splatters to iridescent metallic leather and intricate basket-weave materials. The high-top Margiela Future, with its gigantic leather strap and covered eyelets, has gained a cult following of its own, especially when custom furry pairs of the kicks were made for Kanye West for his Yeezus tour.

Price range: $470-$1,200
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LANVIN

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: While Alber Elbaz recently departed the storied French fashion house, men’s designer Lucas Ossendrijver remains at the helm of its menswear and shoe collections. Founded 1889 in Paris, Lanvin’s signature cap-toe sneaker combines the elegance of a formal shoe with the comfort and simple style of a low-top trainer, and it boasts a considerably thicker sole than its competitors for an even more distinctive look. Lanvin also offers slip-ons, mid-tops, and sportier high-tops, but it still pushes its trademark low-top hard each season.

Price range: $490-$700
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BALENCIAGA

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Founded 1919 in San Sebastián, Spain. Balenciaga’s two signature sneakers are the hiking boot-like Arena, with D-ring eyelets all the way to the top, and the Pleated High-Top, with its telltale horizontal panels on the upper. Both shoes are modern statement pieces, and have achieved their cult status via a combination of key celebrity co-signs and the simple fact that they look damn cool, which makes them something sneakerheads of all sorts could appreciate. Post-Alexander Wang, Balenciaga has received attention for its low-top, neoprene-infused trainers and mixed-material sneakers, too.

Price range: $525-$1,175
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RAF SIMONS

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Long before his Adidas collaboration, Raf Simons was making some of the most thought-provoking sneakers in the fashion world. From subtle reinterpretations of the Nike Vandal (aka the sneaker Kyle Reese wears in The Terminator) to sneakerboot hybrids inspired by De Stijl art, Simons’ current collections are known for his velcro-strapped low- and high-top silhouettes and his cheeky take on the Adidas Stan Smith, which changes almost nothing except for adding a perforated “R” on the side of the shoe. Think of it as the noted minimalist’s way of saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Price range: $450-$1,700
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VISVIM

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Designer Hiroki Nakamura has built a future-rustic world of hard-wearing goods and footwear that looks like the combination of New Age naturalism and modern manufacturing. The FBT, with a moccasin-like upper that rests on a comfortable EVA midsole, is the brand’s most popular silhouette. (It takes its name from the British band Fun Boy Three. Singer Terry Hall wore a pair of moccasins on one of their album covers, and Nakamura took note.) Other sneakers from the brand feel like handmade homages to existing sneakers: the Foley pays respects to the Stan Smith, while the Skagway and Prima owe their existence to the Chuck Taylor. Of course, the cost of admission is much higher, but that’s the price you pay when you want to the same obscure Japanese wardrobe as guys like Eric Clapton and John Mayer.

Price range: $575-$1,200
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HENDER SCHEME

Top 10 Luxury Men's Sneaker Brands Worth Buying

The look: Hender Scheme is the brainchild of Ryo Kashiwazaki, a leather artisan who sought to juxtapose classic Japanese “shokunin” craftsmanship with some of his favorite sneaker silhouettes. His line of “Manual Industrial Products,” also known as the “Homage” line, could be regarded as trompe l’oeil leatherwork. Working from silhouettes like the Vans Era, Nike Air Force 1, and Adidas Superstar, each shoe is meticulously reinterpreted by hand, sans logos, out of a natural, vegetable-tanned leather that will get darker over time. The resulting product simultaneously has the appeal of raw denim, hyped sneakers, and benchmade shoes. Kashiwazaki’s also expanded the MIP line to include silhouettes like the Air Jordan IV and the Nike Presto, and he makes his own line of original designs that are equally impressive.

Price range: $695-$1,050
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