Chunky Trainers Are Dead. Long Live The Retro Sneaker

In fashion, everything comes back around and right now it's the turn of retro sneakers. While chunky, turbocharged trainers have dominated for the past few seasons, this summer sees a return to the nostalgic styles of the past. Blame it on '80s sci-fi Stranger Things (which features an impressive collection of vintage kicks), the adidas Sambas sported by Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody or the retro aesthetic of John Hughes-inspired Sex Education. Whatever the reason, barely a day goes by without spotting a pair of Veja V-10s or white and green Stan Smiths on the feet of your favourite cool girls.
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"The retro sneaker feels fresh," said Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-A-Porter, at the brand's SS19 trend presentation. "It is a sleeker style, which is in line with the grown-up and dressed-up trends we're seeing." Designers are clearly all for the retro trend, given the number of collaborations on the books this year, from adidas x Alexander Wang (think '80s-style aerobics) to Nike x Sacai, Rick Owens x Veja and Converse x JW Anderson (all available later this year at Net-A-Porter).
While you probably already have a pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars, New Balance 574s or Nike Classic Cortez in your wardrobe, there are plenty of lesser known brands to discover. We're loving eco-conscious Good News, which uses recycled rubber and organic cotton, and Portuguese brand Freakloset, whose pairs are customisable.
Read on for 15 classic (but contemporary) pairs of kicks that will make you feel like a Hawkins High student.
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Launched over half a century ago, PUMA Roma '68 is a quintessential retro sneaker. The sportswear and altheisure giant has just reissued the kicks and we're adding this green pair to our collection, stat.
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We're loving Freakloset's Myah trainers for their bold simplicity. Even better, customise them to make your ideal pair – you can change the leather for suede, pick different colours or add a patterned sole.
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Veja V-10s have been dubbed the "world's hottest" trainers by style search platform Lyst (all thanks to Meghan Markle, who wore a pair on a royal tour of Australia in 2018). We're opting for the classic white, red and green combination and wearing with our favourite floral dresses for picnics in the park.
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Part of the third collaboration between adidas and Alexander Wang, these 'BBall Soccer' trainers are inspired by retro football boots. In a muted palette of white and blush pink, they make the perfect choice for sportswear-phobes.
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Pretty much every girl has a pair of classic Nike Air Force 1s in her wardrobe. Stand out from the crowd in the colourful Low By You version, inspired by the original '80s AF-1s.
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Mixing traditional shoemaking skills with contemporary sneaker styles, Spalwart offers quality and cool minimalist design. These are the kind of trainers that will see you to the shops, the park, to work and an after-hours gig.
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The slightly mottled texture and go-faster stripes of these basketball-inspired Continental 80s only add to the design's retro vibes.
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Good News makes guilt-free trainers: rubber soles are recycled, cotton uppers are organic, and the brand aims to use as few environmentally taxing processes as possible. The contrast stitching on this pair says classic style, but the extra-chunky sole is totally modern.
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Like many of the kicks in this round-up, Puma's Cali collection draws upon sneakers' greatest decade: the '80s. Puma has updated its reissued classic tennis shoe silhouette with contrasting rubber accents.
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We're loving the baby blue of these adidas Originals; it makes a refreshing change from the current all-white sneaker trend.
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Golden Goose draws on old-school American sportswear and carefully distresses each pair of trainers they design, resulting in the ultimate vintage-looking kicks.
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You know something is going to be good when Alexa Chung is involved, as her collaboration with Superga can attest. We're following in Alexa's footsteps and wearing these satin high tops with our party dresses for a cool, casual edge.
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Sometimes simplicity is best. Freakloset's Maggie sneakers would look great paired with wide-leg white denim jeans.
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All hail the Stan Smith, arguably the shoe that kickstarted today's trainer mega-popularity (thanks to Celine's Phoebe Philo).
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If colour is more your thing, try Veja V-10s in a palette of bold pinks.
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This is a new rendition of the classic Reebok Club C kicks. While minimalist, they still make an impact.
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A sleek, contemporary take on the classic tennis trainer - slot these into your wardrobe immediately.
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