Seeking new kicks
January 12, 2017 5:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for new shoes/sneakers. Must have the comfort of a high-end running sneaker, minimal/no branding, and the style flexibility of a boat shoe or loafer.

A few years ago I sustained a running injury, which has made it difficult to walk for extended periods of time in my beloved Sperry Top-Sider AO boat shoes.

I love the Sperry boat shoes because of their versatility; they're casual with jeans but can also work with business attire. They're good with long pants and shorts. I've travelled around the world a few times with only the Sperry shoes because they're perfect for almost every situation I find myself in.

But since my injury (and at the direction of my physical therapist) I can't wear them for extended periods of time. I've tried inserts, but they just don't help enough to be worth it. I do a lot of walking on a day-to-day basis, so I've been spending most of my time in Saucony running sneakers. The Saucony sneakers are great for the pain, but look horrendous (seems like a trend with running sneakers?) and definitely couldn't pass for 'business casual'.

Another key factor is that I'd prefer a shoe with minimal-to-no branding, if at all possible.

(For what it's worth, I'm a 26-yo male, and wear US size 10 or 10.5. Budget isn't really an issue.)

Any tips? Thanks!
posted by cvp to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The Adidas Stan Smith style shoes have some subtle color versions and are supposed to be pretty comfy. They're definitely still sneakers, but the Stan Smiths look more like street shoes than athletic shoes.
posted by helloimjennsco at 5:42 AM on January 12, 2017

Have you looked at Cole Haan?
The used to have a Nike Air tech partnership but looks like their sporty shoes are a bit different now.
Maybe thesewould be good.

Check out the rest of their line too.
posted by littlewater at 5:51 AM on January 12, 2017

Astral footwear! In particular the Donner & Porter styles.
posted by headnsouth at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2017

I suspect Stan Smiths would be far too flat, much like the boat shoes.

Rockport and Clarks both have shoes with good support that could pass for casual or business casual. Keens would be another option.

If you though boots might work, once you get past the break in phase, Blundstones are lovely.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:04 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

After breaking his foot last year my husband got Sketchers Avillo loafers to replace his no support slip-ons. He loves them so much he went back and got another color.
posted by toastedbeagle at 6:27 AM on January 12, 2017

I just bought a pair of Clae Ellingtons, so I cant comment on how they wear or feel long term, but they meet your style requirements.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:57 AM on January 12, 2017

I have some dark leather Keen Austins that I like very much. My feet are pretty flat, and I have pain from plantar fasciitis and a bone spur on my heel. I got them from LLBean, so returns are easy if they don't work out -- but I love them because they are soft on my soles, and also have a big ol' toe box for my rectangular feet. :7)

If you razor off the little label along the laces it could work.

Link to the L.L.Bean product page with pictures and reviews
posted by wenestvedt at 7:08 AM on January 12, 2017

Merrell makes several options that should work for you. I've had two pairs. They're very comfortable, very cushioned, but they look like dress-casual shoes (i.e., appropriate with khakis and a button-down).

Edited to add that I can't seem to find a link for them anymore, but if you look at Merrell's website, you'll find several good options.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:21 AM on January 12, 2017

I am a huge fan of Palladium boots, and these shoes one might fit the bill for you. They're just chopped versions of the ones I have. They're as if chucks had a baby with a combat boot, in all the best ways. Their branding is subtle and blends in with the shoe (if you go for their boots, the branding is actually on the inside of the shoe, and my pants always cover up their little logo badge). They last forever, and are really comfortable.

Seavees are also pretty high quality, have some options with minimal branding, and I find them super comfortable, but I would try to find a pair to try on before you purchase them for keeps. They last a great while too.

Both those makes started out as military brands, and then went into the civilian market later...I wouldn't say their product is still quite military level quality, but they both last a DAMN long time. As it stands, I only buy Seavees and Palladium shoes, as they typically last much longer than other options. My last pair of Palladium shoes just tapped out after 2 years of near daily wear.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:33 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've become attached to On shoes for running. Very minimal branding, and (intentionally) very little of the fit-inducing zany styling of most modern running shoes. They're ridiculously comfortable and easy to run in. They make a couple different styles.

Palladium is good for tilting in the slightly more formal, or at least less-sneaker, direction. I'm wearing a two year old pair of linen low-tops (that seem to be discontinued) but are very comfortable and versatile.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:46 AM on January 12, 2017

Ecco. Ecco. Ecco.

Comfortable, well made, sensible, minimal branding, and last for a very, very long time. I'm in the process of converting myself to only Ecco (and Allen-Edmunds) shoes.
posted by the matching mole at 11:15 AM on January 12, 2017

I recently bought two pairs of Greats sneakers, one for myself and one for my husband. They are amazing, the best sneakers I've ever had. The minimalist design is perfect down to the smallest detail and the quality of the leather and stitching is on par or better than much more expensive shoes (I paid about $120 per pair and would say they are better than sneakers I've had in $500-$1,500 range). They are supremely comfortable, not just when you first put them on but at the end of the day too.

Their boat shoe style is Wooster, which comes in really versatile - hipster to business casual - cadet navy. That's the model/color I got for my husband and he cannot wear them without getting complimented.
posted by rada at 3:55 PM on January 12, 2017

I've heard good things about these, but cannot vouch for them personally. Also, a bit pricey, for me.
posted by old_growler at 8:13 PM on January 12, 2017

Puma? Tretorn? Simple? Camper?
posted by fedward at 9:38 PM on January 12, 2017

Allbirds? Time?
posted by box at 5:12 AM on January 13, 2017

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