Well, it’s finally here — my fashion sneaker review and comparison! I’ve been teasing this post for a while, and I finally have it ready to go.
As always with this type of post, I always wish I had tried more styles, but as it is I compared 9 pairs of fashion sneakers ranging from $65 to $550, and these are the results.
First, a little back story. You should have known, right? I always have a story.
I’ve tried many fashion sneakers over the years and styled quite a few for the blog, but in actuality, I rarely wear them. I like the idea of a fashion sneaker, but I almost always reach for a pair of ballet flat or loafers or flat boots with my casual outfits. The exception is when I wear a sweatshirt and jeans, and then I feel like sneakers are in order.
Lately, though, I’ve been noticing a lot of the bloggers I follow for fashion inspiration trading in their booties and loafers for fashion sneakers — and wearing them with jeans and sweaters and other casual-but-not-sweatshirt-like tops. I like the juxtaposition of the athletic footwear with street clothes, and the look is growing on me.
My go-to sneakers for quite some time have been the Converse Shoreline, and I still like them, but they’re beginning to look dated to me.
Now, please don’t get all upset and tell me you just finally bought your first pair of Converse or ask if you should stop wearing yours. No, not at all. I’m not giving mine away just yet, and there’s nothing wrong with them, but I’ve been wearing them for several years, and I’m ready for something new. In fact, what I’m looking for is a different style entirely, and there is room for both in my shoe wardrobe.
What I have in mind is a white leather sneaker, and ideally I’d find one with some metallic or black accents so they’re not quite so stark, but plain white is okay too.
(Yes, I’ve done the Adidas Superstar, and I like them, but they felt heavy and clunky and never really broke in well, so I ended up passing them on to my daughter.)
The shoes that started me on this quest are the sneakers gracing every other post in my Instagram feed these days — the Golden Goose.
If you haven’t heard of this hot trend in elevated athletic footwear, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand is an Italian luxury fashion sneaker brand born in 2000 that has developed a cult following over the past 19 years and is now one of the hottest street style trends among celebrities and fashion bloggers.
Prices average around 500 U.S. dollars per pair, although you can find a sale if you’re patient. They’re a part vintage chic, part skater sneaker, part luxury designer shoe; and one of their trademarks is the worn-in look. They’re basically the sneaker version of distressed premium denim.
GGDB shoes are handmade in Italy, so the quality of materials and workmanship are bar none, and no two shoes are identical. I’ve heard it said it’s like wearing a piece of art on your feet. Well, when you put it that way…
Here’s the thing about me, though. I like to have the latest and greatest (#justbeinghonest) but I also like to be a little ahead of the game. While I like the Golden Goose sneakers more the more I see them, they’re starting to get so ubiquitous that I’m almost at the point of not wanting them anymore. I’m a contrarian that way. Plus I’m actually not even sure I’m cool enough to pull them off. They definitely have a youthful vibe, and as a 46-year-old suburban housewife, I’m probably better off with a more classic style.
All that to say, I set out to find a fashion sneaker I like as much as the Golden Goose, but something a little more under the radar… a “grown up Golden Goose,” if you will. I’m willing to consider luxury brands, but I’d rather not spend more than $200 on this purchase. I’m sure some will still think that’s insane, but when you consider that it’s less than half the price of a pair of Golden Goose, I figure I’m being downright frugal. Haha!
Naturally, my hunt to find new fashion sneakers turned into a project for the blog. Many of you were interested to see my findings, and some of you gave me suggestions or made requests, so I decided to photograph all the sneakers I tried and report back.
I’m comparing comfort, fit, weight, price, as well as look and feel. I obviously don’t want to keep 9 pairs of sneakers, so I can’t thoroughly test them out for longterm comfort, but I can tell you how they feel out of the box and as I wear them around the house for a few minutes. I tested them out in the carpeted areas upstairs so I could keep them in pristine condition.
Let’s get started!
Fashion Sneaker Review & Comparison
For reference, I’m 5’5″ and 135-140 with an hourglass figure, and I typically wear a size 8.5 sneaker. I share my height and weight because I believe that factors into how shoes look in proportion to my body.
#1. Superga ‘Cotu’ Sneaker $64.95
Introduction: Superga is an Italian company that has been around since 1913! They’re a favorite shoe of the stylish and always classy Kate Middleton, and they’re best known for their rubber soled canvas kicks. I’ve had a pair before so I knew they aren’t exactly what I’m looking for this time, but I ordered these at a reader’s request because they’re a good option for a canvas sneaker and I thought the would help round out this review.
Pros: They’re lightweight and fairly comfortable right out of the box, and the classic styling is flattering and versatile. These look great with everything from jeans and pants to shorts and skirts.
Cons: They don’t have much cushion or arch support, so if that’s important to you, you should know that. Also, being all-over bright white canvas, they look like a shoe that would get dirty quickly and not be easy to clean. They’re also fairly heavy for a canvas sneaker, weighing in at 14 oz each.
Conclusion: Stylistically, I’m fairly neutral on these. I like them better than, say, Keds… but they’re still plain canvas and very white. To be honest, I feel like they look better in photographs than they do in person. They look okay here, but in person, I was very meh about them. That said, they have a nice understated look, and the price is right. For size reference, I ordered a 9, and they are definitely too big on me. If I were to keep them, I’d need to get an 8.5, so I’d say they’re true to size.
#2. Taos ‘Star’ Sneaker $79.95
Introduction: Taos is a brand of comfort shoes out of New Mexico. Signature touches include natural stones, metal ornaments, and playful embroidery — all referencing the area’s natural heritage. I’ve worn Taos brand sandals before so I knew they made a good quality shoe, but I associate them with comfort shoes and didn’t expect to like these sneakers as much as I do. These were a reader recommendation, and I’m so glad they were brought to my attention!
Pros: For a canvas sneaker (which, as I said, is not really what I’m looking for) these are really cute. And they are also extremely comfortable and lightweight (11 oz each.) They have a really good arch support for such a low profile sneaker, so if you need that, definitely try these. I also like the contrast stitching, and they have a flattering shape to them.
Cons: Honestly, I don’t have much in the con department. They’re not leather, which is what I was looking for, but otherwise, I’m definitely tempted to keep these.
Conclusion: These are a good bang for your buck since you’re getting arch support and some modest padding, and the styling is surprisingly good for a comfort sneaker. They’re not really what I was looking for, but I was pleasantly surprised with these, and they’re definitely a contender. I also think they would be perfect for my Disney World trip in March because they have support but are also lightweight and breathable. They will also pair well with shorts. They’re also true to size; I have the 8.5.
Sidenote: if you like slip-on sneakers and need arch support, these Taos Soul slip-ons look really cute and get great reviews.
#3. Tretorn ‘Nylite2Plus’ Sneaker $84.95
Introduction: Tretorn is a Scandinavian sneaker featuring minimalist styling that was super popular in the 80s, and I hear they’re making a comeback. I’m not sure if they’re going to take off or not; I’ll be curious to see how that pans out, but I decided I had to do my fashion blogger duty and order a pair for old time’s sake.
Pros: Out of the box, these are fairly comfortable. They have some cushion and support, and the leather seems durable. I chose the White/ Gold color combo because I thought the gold emblem elevated the look a bit. They’re also extremely lightweight for a leather shoe, just 10 oz each.
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; I’m wearing the 8.5.
#4. Veja ‘Esplar’ Extra-White $120
Introduction: I can’t remember where I saw these for the first time, but I’ve started noticing them on more girls now that I’m turned onto them. Veja is a French-born shoe company that combines fair trade and ecology. They use organic or recycled and fairly traded materials, and all products are made in a high standard factory in Brazil. As an aside, I really wanted the ones with the black V logo on the side, but I can’t find them anywhere in my size, so I ordered the plain white ones.
Pros: I love the styling on these shoes. They have very clean aesthetic, and the logo is subtle (more so on these than on the ones with a contrasting color, but it’s still not in your face.) These remind me of a more refined Adidas Superstar. They fit my thin, narrow feet very well and don’t feel heavy or clunky. They’re also fairly lightweight, weighing in at 12 oz each.
Cons: These have no support to speak of, and the tongue is very stiff. Every review I’ve read say they require some major breaking in, and then they’re great. I’m justnot sure I want to work that hard for $120 sneakers, even if they do look great on. They also have a cotton lining that isn’t particularly comfortable. It’s not uncomfortable, but when you compare it to the Greats and the Josef Seibel brands (below), it comes up lacking.
Conclusion: I wanted to love these shoes. I like the idea of supporting companies practicing fair trade and ethical production methods, they look great on — maybe the best of all I tried. They’re definitely one of my top contenders, but I don’t know that I have the patience to break them in, and I really prefer a more luxe lining. They’re true to size; I’m wearing the 39.
#5. Josef Seibel ‘Caspian’ Sneaker $129.95
Introduction: These were another reader recommendation, and I also ended up ordering the Josef Seibel Sina (see below.) I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but it will definitely be on my radar going forward. Josef Seibel is family-held German shoe company, and they pride themselves on premium quality materials, the best workmanship, and comfort. They also boast anatomical footbeds and foot massage insole systems to maximize comfort and increase blood circulation. Basically, if you love a good comfort shoe, you will want to check out this brand.
Pros: Out of all the shoes I tried, out of the box, these are by far the most comfortable and lightweight as well. They only weigh 9 oz each! They have good padding and support, the tongue doesn’t push into the front of my leg at all, and the low profile sides don’t bother my ankle bones either. They fit great, and they look and feel like good quality shoes.
Cons: Um, well. I can’t think of much. I don’t love the styling, but that is a subjective criterion. I also don’t care for the color choices in this particular style; I really wanted a white pair — which is why I also ordered the Sina below. But otherwise, yeah… these are great shoes!
Conclusion: These also aren’t exactly the style I was going for, although I do like the perforated details on the side. They’re definitely a low profile sneaker, and I wanted something that looks a little more substantial, but I’m finding that comes with comfort issues. For the comfort alone, these are a contender. They run true to size; I’m wearing a 39, which equals an 8.5 in American sizes.
#6. Josef Seibel ‘Sina 11’ Sneaker $134.95
Introduction: I ordered these because I wanted to try one of the Josef Seibel styles in white leather, and from looking at them online, I couldn’t tell which style I liked better — these or the Caspian (above.) Also of note, the white leather isn’t really white — it has a grey tinge to it that may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for. They also have a slightly higher profile than the Caspian, which is not a pro or con, just an observation.
Pros: While I didn’t find these quite as comfortable as the Caspian, they’re still very comfortable due to their cushion and arch support, and they’re extremely lightweight at 10 oz each. Both this pair and the Caspian are leather lined, making them extremely comfortable and breathable, and giving them a luxe feel that belies their price point. They also have removable insoles that can be replaced with an orthotic, if need be.
Cons: All I can think of when I look at these is bowling shoes. I’m not sure what it is, but something about the style of them doesn’t quite jibe with what I’m looking for. Also, the tongue pushes into the front of my leg, and they’re also higher on the sides, so they aggravate my ankle bone a little bit as well.
Conclusion: All that said, I am mainly comparing them to the Caspian (above.) Compared to the other shoes in this list, they’re lightweight and quite comfortable. If you like the styling, they’re definitely worthy of consideration. They run true to size; I’m wearing a 39, which equals an 8.5 in American sizes.
#7. Greats ‘Royale’ Sneaker $179
Introduction: I discovered these through another blogger, and I really love the mission of this brand. Greats is a sneaker brand that was born in Brooklyn and are made in Italy. The two founders are passionate about building the best footwear in the game at the best price, and these shoes have been dubbed the “most accessibly-priced luxury sneaker in the world.” I have to say, I’m impressed!
Pros: Where do I start??? The quality is outstanding, and the second I put my foot in these shoes, I was obsessed. They’re leather lined and so luxe. I did want sneakers with some other color details, but I ended up ordering these plain white ones because I didn’t see any others I liked better. They have a very clean aesthetic, which I appreciate.
Cons: Unfortunately these are the heaviest of all the shoes I ordered… weighing in at a whopping 17 ounces per shoe. They also fit my foot a little bit big. I actually ordered the 8.5 and the 9, and the 8.5 was too short while the 9 seems a little big on me. I have narrow, flat feet so they look a little clunky compared to the Veja, which is the most similar of all the ones I tried.
Conclusion: These are a strong contender… very strong. I love the quality for the price, I love supporting a company based in Brooklyn, and they look great on. If I had thicker/wider feet, they would be perfect. I need to wear them around the house a little more to decide for sure if I can deal with the extra weight for the luxe lining and classic styling.
#8. P448 ‘John’ Sneaker $250
Introduction: P448 is an Italian luxury street style sneaker brand that was born in 2014, and they get their inspiration from the skate world as well as the hip hop subculture. This is clearly reflected in their designs. These are the most similar style to Golden Goose, and they’re actually the shoes that got me on this sneaker quest. Even though they’re over my $200 budget, I was curious enough to order them to see how they compare to the rest.
Pros: I love the grey and rose gold accents and the subtle perforated P448 logo. It adds texture without being in your face. When you slip your feet inside, they are super comfortable. The tongue is soft and lined with some kind of suede or terry material, so it doesn’t jab into your leg like most of the other leather sneakers do.
Cons: I can’t keep them on my feet! They came laced this way, so there’s no good way to tighten them unless I re-lace them and tie them in the traditional way, and I’m assuming that will detract substantially from the cool factor, haha! While the sole is rather stiff, but there is good padding, and I can see how they would break in fairly easily if the shoe would actually stay on my foot. Maybe I should give it a try before I return them. They’re also heavy, weighting in at 15 oz.
Conclusion: I love the styling on these, and the comfort when you put your foot inside, but I’m not sure I’m cool enough to pull them off with my daily outfits. While I’m willing to up my budget to $250 for a pair of sneakers I truly love and think I’ll wear a ton, I’m a little too wishy-washy on these to justify the price tag.
#9. The Muse: Golden Goose ‘Superstar Metallic’ Sneaker $550
photo credit: Alison Cornell
Yes, I bought them. I couldn’t resist. I HAD to know how they compare to the rest. I ordered these Golden Goose Superstar Metallic Sneakers from Nordstrom on a whim the day before I was scheduled to shoot these pictures. The reason they’re purple is this was the ONLY pair in the store in my size — and they’re actually a size too small. I really wanted to try these or these — as I said above, I prefer a sneaker with some black accents — but at least with these purple ones, I could get the gist of the brand and make an informed comparison to the rest.
Introduction: Golden Goose Deluxe Brand is an Italian luxury fashion sneaker brand created by two Venetian designers, a husband and wife team, and I think I gave a more than adequate background to my interest in these shoes at the beginning of this post.
Pros: I was instantly impressed when I pulled these out of the box with how lightweight they are, and how high quality the materials look and feel. They weigh 12 oz, just like the Veja Esplars. I slipped them on, and they are everything I dreamed they would be… even though they’re a size too small, they feel like I’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 did read that they also require some breaking in, but they seemed pretty comfortable to me. These also have a built-in wedge that gives you a little extra height, and thus some support for walking as well. These particular shoes have a very low side profile so they don’t bother my ankle bone at all, and the tongue is short so it doesn’t protrude into my leg. I could definitely see wearing these right away and being comfortable in them.
Cons: The price tag, duh! But honestly, for the quality and comfort straight of the box, I think they’re worth it… IF you would wear them often enough to get your cost per wear out of them. I also don’t feel as comfortable in the skater-inspired style as I do in the more minimalistic, classic styles of the Greats and the Veja sneakers. These definitely have more of a youthful, trendy vibe. That is not a con for everyone, but it is for me.
Conclusion: If I had received these in my size in the one of the white/grey versions, I would be verrrrrry tempted to keep them. Just for the comfort alone, I could justify this purchase. BUT I do feel the Greats Royale and Veja Esplar — and even the Taos Star — fit my style aesthetic better. I just wish they were as comfortable.
Would you believe, I am still undecided!
If I could combine the style of the Veja with the comfort of the Golden Goose or Josef Seibel, I’d be sold. The Greats are actually the strongest contender at this point because of the combination of comfort, style, and quality. They just don’t fit quite as well as I’d like, and they look a little clunky on my feet. I’m also tempted to keep the Taos in addition to one of the leather pairs, as I can see them serving different purposes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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