2020 FASHION SNEAKER REVIEWS
Over the past year, the fashion sneaker trend has really taken hold and become mainstream. I hope my fashion sneaker reviews help you weed through the options and find the styles that work best for you.
Nowadays, women wear sneakers with everything from yoga pants to dresses! They’re a great way to keep your classic looks current, but there are so many to choose from.
Last year, I set out to find one pair of go-to fashion sneakers to incorporate into my casual looks and ended up with the solid white Veja Esplar leather low top sneakers.
I explained in that post that I’ve never been one to wear sneakers with my daily outfits, so I was surprised by how versatile they turned out to be, and how much I enjoyed wearing these shoes over the past year.
They’re still one of my favorites, but since I wear them so much, I wanted to add a couple other options to my shoe wardrobe. This time, I set out to look for something a little more fun, maybe with a pop of color or pattern.
Fashion sneakers are like any other wardrobe piece — there are tons of styles to choose from, so choose what works best for your body type, style aesthetic, budget, and lifestyle.
I hope this post helps you weed through the options and find the styles that work best for you!
2020 FASHION SNEAKER REVIEWS
For reference, I’m 5’5″ and 135 pounds, and I typically wear an 8 or 8.5 sneaker. (I share my height and weight because I believe that factors into how shoes look in proportion to my body.)
I’ve ordered these sneakers from my least to most favorite, but that doesn’t mean it’s a worst to best list. It’s just how they rank according to my personal preference.
Both Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom are running big sales right now, so I sourced these sneakers from those two retailers where I could. Both sites also have free shipping and free returns. I’ll share both the original and sale prices next to each link.
Tretorn NY Lite Sneakers
Introduction: Tretorn is a Scandinavian sneaker featuring minimalist styling that was super popular in the 80s, and they’ve been making a comeback. They have a low profile and an almond shaped toe with the iconic Tretorn stripe emblem.
Pros: Out of the box, these are fairly comfortable. They have some cushion and support, and the leather seems durable. They’re also extremely lightweight for a leather shoe. I like how the gold emblem elevates the look.
Cons: I’m not a big fan of the seams on the toe, but that’s totally a personal thing. They’re a little stiff and need some breaking in, but I don’t really have anything bad to say about these, except they’re not quite the look I’m going for.
Conclusion: Overall, if you like the look, they’re a good value for an under-$100 leather sneaker. They run true to size, or size up if in between; I’m wearing the 8.5.
Adidas Stan Smith Sneaker
The original had a green tab on the back heel, but I chose the red one to try out for this post. They also come with a navy tab and an all white version. Bonus, they’re 25% off at Nordstrom today! Shop all 4 here.
Pros: I love the pop of red at the tongue and heel, as well as the perforated stripes. They have a traditional but modern look to them, even though they’ve been trending for years.
Cons: Because they’re a unisex sneaker, these run big and wide, and they have a ridiculously long tongue. I don’t know if that’s true for all Stan Smiths or just this pair, but it was a deal breaker for me because of the way it protruded into my leg.
Conclusion: If you have wider/thicker feet, these are a solid style choice at a great price for leather sneakers. Even though they run wide, they still have a low profile, which tends to be more flattering than the puffy sneakers that have been trending.
I love the styling, but I don’t care for how they fit my feet. Definitely size down, if ordering. I tried the 8 Women’s / 7 Men’s M, but I probably could have gone down a size.
Amazon Two Tone Star Lace up Fashion Sneakers $14.99 – $45.99
Introduction: This is the least expensive pair of sneakers I’m reviewing, and the only ones that aren’t leather. I wanted to include an under-$50 option, and these are some of the best I’ve tried. They’re a very trendy style, definitely a Golden Goose copycat, but cute and fun for casual looks.
Pros: These sneakers are very comfortable, considering the price point. The tongue is padded and soft against the foot, and while there is no support inside, they are comfortable to wear and didn’t require any breaking in.
Cons: I don’t care for how they’ve shamelessly copied the Golden Goose star motif, but they’re certainly not the only shoe company to do that The laces are really stiff, and they look and feel cheap; I would recommend replacing them with something a little bit nicer.
Conclusion: These are trendy and fun, and while the quality isn’t amazing, they’re a decent value for the price point. Definitely size up half, as recommended on the website. I have the 8.5, and I could probably use the 9.
Ecco Soft 7 Sneaker
Introduction: Ecco shoes are known for excellent quality and extreme comfort. These sneakers are often mentioned when ladies are recommending supportive fashion sneakers to each other in my comment section, so I wanted to give them a try.
These sneakers have a super low profile, they come in 6 colors, and they have a removable insole in case you want to replace it with an orthotic.
Pros: The comfort and support is definitely there, as is the quality Ecco is known for. The leather is soft and supple, and they have noticeable arch support. The brown tab on the heel is a nice, subtle detail.
Cons: The laces on these sneakers are super stiff and long, so I would want to replace them if keeping. I also don’t care for the cap toe. Overall, the styling is a little stodgy for my personal taste. That doesn’t mean they aren’t right for you, but I don’t love them for me.
Conclusion: If you want a low profile comfort sneaker with good arch support, these are a solid choice. They’re an excellent value for the price point. They run fairly true to size, or size down if in between. I’m wearing the 8.
Paul Green Carly Low Top Sneaker
Introduction: Paul Green is a women’s shoe brand known for uncompromising quality and luxe materials, and his styles lean toward the more mature side.
I ordered these low top sneakers at the recommendation of a faithful reader who has worn these all over the world and swears by their comfort and durability. They have a leather upper and comfortable terry lining, with colorful stripes around the foxing.
Pros: These sneakers feel surprisingly lightweight, and are extremely comfortable on the foot. I typcially prefer a leather lining, but the terry inside is very nice too. They definitely add a touch of class to a casual outfit, and you can’t beat the quality.
Cons: If I’m going to be picky, the grommets look really big and off-balance to me, and I don’t love the thick platform. Even though they feel lightweight and comfortable, they look a little clunky on my foot.
Conclusion: These are on the pricier end of the sneaker spectrum, so I definitely recommend buying on sale. They’re not as trendy as some in this roundup, but they’re not going to go out of style next year either.
Overall, these are a solid choice for those who have a classic/preppy style and appreciate comfort and quality. They run TTS, or size up if in between; I’m wearing the 8.5.
Introduction: This is a court style leather sneaker with subtle suede accents in a contrasting color (and there is an all-white option as well.) It has a 100% full-grain leather upper and a recycled polyester lining with a leather-like feel, and the sole is a blend of natural and recycled rubber that’s 94.2% free of virgin plastic.
Pros: These sneakers are super comfortable right out of the box. The insides feel nice and smooth against the foot, and they’re soft and flexible. They’re an excellent value for an under-$100 leather sneaker.
Cons: The styling on these looks a little orthopedic to my eye; it’s something about the seaming and design around the toe box. I think these are super cute on younger women, but it may be a little bit tricky to pull them off over a certain age.
Conclusion: These sneakers are an excellent value for the price point. The comfort is unmatched, and you can feel good about purchasing from an ethical company.
That said, the styling could lean a little matronly depending on your age and style aesthetic, so I’m on the fence. They run TTS, or size up if in between; I’m wearing the 8.5.
Introduction: Gola is an English company that dates back to 1905, and they’re known for their soccer sneakers. This classic throwback style has been updated with subtle cheetah details, designed especially for J.Crew.
Pros: I like the soccer style shoe for a change, and I think the cheetah details are so fun. These sneakers are super lightweight, and the comfort is average but on par for the $95 price point.
Cons: These certainly aren’t as classic or versatile as some of the other styles I reviewed, but they’re really fresh and fun with the cheetah details. I don’t have much bad to say about them, except I wish they came in half sizes. The 8 was too small, but I fear the 9 might be too big.
Conclusion: These are a nice marriage of classic and trendy, perfect for those looking for something beyond a basic white sneaker. They run a bit small; I had the 8 and returned them because they my toes were right in the end.
Vince Janna Mixed Leather Low-Top Sneakers
Introduction: Vince is a brand known for uncompromising quality and effortless style. I’m a huge fan of his shoes, and someone in my Facebook Group requested I include a Vince sneaker in this roundup, so I found these. While he’s well known for his slip-on styles, I wanted a lace-up option for the purposes of this post.
These sneakers are a mix of suede and leather upper on a sturdy platform sole, and they have a classic minimalistic style. They also come in oatmeal and black.
Pros: These sneakers are the usual amazing Vince quality with a luxe look and feel. I wouldn’t call them super supportive, but they’re leather lined and feel amazing on the foot. The styling is classic and versatile, and the combination of suede and leather adds interest. I also appreciate the lack of grommets.
Cons: I have nothing bad to say about these, but I just don’t love the suede/leather combo. It’s totally a personal thing, which is why I included it in both the pros and cons. They’re a great shoe, but too much like my Veja Esplars to warrant keeping them. Plus, I found a couple other pairs I liked better.
Conclusion: These are high quality sneakers with classic styling and a luxe look and feel, plus they’re super comfortable. While they are on the spendy side, you’re getting a solid value for the price point, especially if you snag them on sale. They run big, though. I’m wearing the 8 and would need the 7.5. (I also had to size down to 7.5 in these slip-on sneakers.)
Introduction: For anyone not aware, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand is an Italian luxury fashion sneaker brand that has developed a cult following over the past few years. They’re handmade in Italy, and no two shoes are identical. I’ve heard it said it’s like wearing a piece of art on your feet. They’re part vintage chic, part skater sneaker, part luxury designer shoe, and one of their trademarks is the worn-in look.
Pros: Besides the amazing quality, which sort of goes without saying, these are the kind of shoes you slip on right out of the box, and they feel like you’ve been wearing them for years. They have a suede tongue that is super soft, and the insides are padded and feel so lived-in and comfortable.
I love the neutral styling of the particular pair that I ordered, as it’s more on the classic side, which is best suited to my personal style. But I’m also drawn to some of the fun designs with animal prints and glitter details.
Cons: The price tag is the biggest con I can come up with, but these are also a very trendy shoe and not suited to everyone’s personal style. And of course some don’t care for the distressed rubber soles.
Conclusion: If they’re in your budget, and they work for your personal style, these are such fun shoes. This particular pair is incredibly versatile due to the neutral color palette, and of course you can wear them all year round (as you can any of the sneakers in this post), which helps reduce cost per wear.
Veja V-10 Sneaker
Introduction: Veja is a French-born shoe company that uses organic or recycled and fairly traded materials, and all products are made in a high standard factory in Brazil. Since I like my white Esplars so much, I thought I’d try a different style with some colorful accents. This V-10 style was named after the label’s 10th anniversary, and these have a navy colorblock V along with a red heel tab, but there are lots of other color combos to choose from.
Pros: The quality and eco-friendly materials are a huge pro to these sneakers, and I just really like the styling. There are some fun details like the perforations on the toe box, and I like the colorblock styling for a change.
Cons: These sneakers are stiff at first, and the tongue is super long — longer than the one in my Veja Esplars. (They suggest slipping the tongue to the side for a comfier feel.) While I found my other Vejas to soften up and break in fairly quickly, I still consider that a con compared to others in this review that are comfortable right out of the box. They also have organic cotton lining that isn’t especially soft; I prefer terry cloth or leather, but it’s a concession you make for this price.
Conclusion: For a quality shoe from an ethical company with a classic but on-trend styling, these are a solid choice for the price point. I like the looks of them better than the feel. They also run a big large; I’m wearing the 8 but would be curious to try the 7.5.
Tory Burch Howell Lace-Up Sneakers
Introduction: The Tory Burch brand needs no introduction, and these shoes are a chic court-style sneaker made of a soft, supple leather with a contrasting heel tab accented by her gold logo medallion.
Pros: These sneakers are everything I’ve come to expect from a Tory Burch shoe. They were super comfortable right out of the box, and I wore them all day with no issues whatsoever. They have a leather upper with a combination leather and textile lining and a rubber sole. I like the subtle perforation details and the rounded toe is flattering and comfortable. These are basically an elevated Stan Smith.
Cons: I can’t really complain about the price, considering the quality, but it’s the only con I can think of.
Conclusion: These sneakers are a great choice for those who want a classic style with more luxe finishes. They run TTS or size down if in between; I have the 8.
Introduction: P448 is an Italian luxury street style sneaker brand inspired by the skate world and hip hop subculture, and this is clearly reflected in their designs. These are the most similar to Golden Goose brand, without copying the GGDB signature star emblem, and the price point is much more palatable.
I ordered the John Leather & Suede Low-Top Sneakers from Neiman Marcus when they were on sale a few weeks ago, and they’ve almost sold out. Neimans has a lot of other styles, as does Nordstrom, and all are on sale right now.
Pros: I love the subtle perforated P448 logo and how it adds texture without being in your face, and I think the leopard print suede logo backstay is such a fun detail. The hand-distressed platform has that trendy worn-in look so you don’t have to worry about getting them dirty, and they are super comfortable inside. They have a cushioned footbed, and the tongue is padded and lined with a soft terry material, so they feel really good against the foot.
Cons: I can’t think of a single one other than the price. I love these sneakers, and I’ve already worn them multiple times in the couple weeks that I’ve had them. They’re definitely a more trendy/youthful style, which may not be what everyone is looking for, but I think they’re a great addition to my casual wardrobe, and I can see myself wearing these a ton, bringing that cost per wear down to mere pennies over time.
Conclusion: They recommended sizing up, so I ordered the 9B/39 EU, but those were too big and I ended up exchanging for the 8B/38 EU, so I would recommend going with your usual size or even sizing down.
Every shoe in this post is one that I’d recommend without hesitation. They didn’t all work for me (not that I needed 12 new pairs of sneakers, anyway!) but they’re all good shoes for various purposes/budgets/styles/etc.
Since I have and still love the white Veja Esplar, I wanted to add sneakers with some color or pattern to my closet, so I chose to keep the Tory Burch Howell with navy blue accent for a classic/preppy style, and the P448 John for a trendy skate sneaker.
I really wanted to love the Veja V-10, but I couldn’t get past the stiff tongue, and I probably would have kept the Gola bullet sneakers if they had fit better, but I didn’t bother to re-order in the next size up.
The other pair I really loved is the Golden Goose, but I just didn’t want to spend $500 on sneakers, and the P448 has a similar style with more subtle details for half the price. I’m really happy with those, and I like that they’re a little more under the radar, which I feel suits my personal style.
I also want to give an honorable mention to these Saturday sneakers from J.Crew. They’re backordered, so I couldn’t try them for this post, but I love the styling with the leopard print tab at the heel and black laces.
At the end of the day, these are all good choices. It just depends on your budget and what you’re looking for.
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photos: Alison Cornell