White sneakers are a classic spring and summer staple— and for good reason. The colorway is rooted in early 20th-century athletics, and over the years, the practical justification hasn’t changed: white reflects the sun’s rays, keeping your feet cooler than sneakers with darker uppers. Another major plus is their versatility — white sneakers go with most casual clothes, regardless of the color.
Why White? Won't They Get Ruined?
Sure, white sneakers are more susceptible to staining, but all sneakers deteroriate faster than boots or hard-bottomed dress shoes. It's a matter of construction, and while there are sneakers out there that are as durable as work boots — see: Feit's resoleable rubber runners — the sneakers you're probably buying have a short lifespan if you plan to wear them more than every once in a while (i.e. from two or three times a week to everyday).
White sneakers are supposed to get ruined — or, at the very least, show signs of regular wear. I'm not saying you should be wearing a pair of "cooked" Air Force Ones to work, but you shouldn't stress over scuffs, scrapes or discoloration. Stains — like food drippings, coffee droplets or bolded boot marks from when you stepped into someone else's path — should be treated as soon as possible though.
How to Clean Your White Sneakers
How you clean your white sneakers will depend on what they're made from. If they're leather, a magic eraser and leather cleaner will clear even stuck-on mud and other muck. If they're suede, there are tools designed specifically to treat suede — and always without water. If they're made from fabrics like canvas or mesh), they can be spot-treated and tossed in the washing machine (but ideally in a washable bag so they don't bounce around). Woolen sneakers, say ones from Allbirds, can be thrown in the wash too. But wool is a delicate fabric. It's best to check with the manufacturer to be sure they can withstand a wash cycle.
No sneaker looks better beat up than the Chuck Taylor All Star. But, to ensure you get more than a year out of 'em, you should upgrade to the Chuck 70, a modern rendition of the iconic sneaker made with sturdier canvas uppers, an enhanced rubber outsole and a cushioned insole. These will wear nicely, even after they've earned their fair share of scuffs. (Note: I've been wearing the same pair for five years...)
Salomon is one of the many brands that have benefitted from the "GORP" trend — when outdoors products are prized as high-end fashion. The brand's sneakers are durable, designed for distant hikes and ultra-distance racing. The XT-6 Advanced, for example, comes with a cushioned insole for sticking landings on tough terrain, and abrasion resistant mesh and mud guards.
Vans classic Authentic is ideal for the warmer months: It won’t break the bank, plus it's easy to wash. This version of the Authentic sneaker has a white canvas upper and includes a vulcanized waffle rubber outsole, tonal metal eyelets and a woven logo tab.
First introduced in 1985 as a tennis shoe, the Club C follows in the steps of Reebok’s highly popular Revenge, but with a toned-down look. The Club C’s have experienced a resurgence in recent years as the popularity of vintage and throwback sneakers have grown (see: Converse Chuck 70, Nike Blazer Mid ’77). It’s taken on an almost IYKYK following and the classic shoe doesn’t pander to the hype machine, making it a verified icon that’s equally deft on the tennis court or the sidewalk.
Like Nike’s Air Force 1, Adidas’ Stan Smith has inspired countless imitators (including a few on this list). The OG tennis shoe features the brand’s signature Three Stripe motif, Ortholite cushioning and a durable rubber cup sole. Plus, this iteration is made from faux leather for even better breathability.
The Air Force 1 is a grandfather to countless basketball shoes after its introduction in 1982. The legendary shoe has inspired knockoff after knockoff, inciting famous cease & desists as well as countless queues for exclusive collabs and limited-edition releases. But you can always count on the total white version to keep your fit fresh. It’ll never get sold out nor go out of style.
Founded in France in 2005, Veja commits itself to producing fair-trade footwear that does not compromise on design. These sneakers, made in Brazil, have a white calfskin upper that’s complimented with an off-white rubber sole and a perforated leather toe-box.
Made with smooth Vitello calf leather, the Capri sneaker features a removable insole, a lightweight Margom outsole and a calf-leather lining. It is made in the Marche region of Italy and is available in sizes 7 to 13. These are the quintessential white sneakers, albeit upgraded quite a bit. The $268 dollar price tag is high, sure, but these will last a lot longer than a pair of Vans, for example.
Thousand Fell's recyclable Classic Lace Up Sneakers look like leather but are actually made from corn waste, coconut husk and recycled bottles. Not only does that make them vegan, but they're completely recyclable. When you buy a pair — in one of over a dozen colors — you pledge to return them at the end of their life cycle (a point which you determine). You'll then get $20 toward your next pair of Thousand Fells.
Another sneaker with sporting roots, the Jack Purcell low is the eponymous signature shoe of badminton legend Jack Purcell. It looks quite a lot like the Chuck Taylor, but it predates the low-top iteration by over two decades. (Yes, the All-Star came out first, but it was only a high-top until 1957.)
The Star Dribble has a silhouette vaguely reminiscent of the regular Chuck Taylor All-Star but it's slightly cheaper — and made by Novesta, not Converse. The Slovakian brand has made this simple sneaker for decades, and it's gone relatively unchanged. If you're looking for something a little more unique yet kind of the same, this is the pick for you.
New Balance has been on a tear — releasing new sneaker after new sneaker to increasingly demanding shoppers. What's that mean? Well, the sneakers are good. And they sell out fast. One newer silhouette that sticks around, though, probably because New Balance has bolstered its inventory of them, is the 5740LT, which is a part of the 57/40 collection. These feature leather and mesh accents, a gum sole and a comfortable plush tongue.