As trainers trend minimalist, it was inevitable that laces would eventually go the way of air bubbles, pull tabs and logos. But unlike those more decorative details, keeping your shoe on without some kind of fastening is a touch tricky. Yes, you could try slip-ons. But where are you going to find a chef’s hat to wear with them?
So recently, designers have started to compromise. Those line-breaking laces are now concealed by straps, skins and flaps, which hide all that messy rope but ensure your shoes still stay on your foot. Because losing a shoe is never a trending look.
Filling Pieces Low Top Elastic
Dutch trainer brand Filling Pieces doesn’t exactly make maximalist trainers. But it’s monochrome low-tops now get an even-sleeker update, courtesy of an elastic strap that obscures the laces.
There’s a touch of adidas Y-3’s super-sleek Qasa, which launched last year and promptly sold out, but which coupled with FP’s sloped silhouette makes for a shoe more smart than sporty.
Pair with stacked denim and a floaty overcoat. Both black, naturally.
Available at Filling Pieces, priced €220.
adidas x Yohji Y’s Country Zip
Speaking of Y-3, the sneaker project where Yohji Yamamoto experiments with bonkers silhouettes, this season he’s decided to ditch laces entirely.
The Country Zip takes a Yamamoto signature – adidas’ trio of stripes replaced with dangling string – then swaps the laces for a zipped upper. If all that trailing cotton is a bit much, there’s a sleeker, all-black silhouette with traditional Three Stripes branding.
Available at store.y-3.com, priced £400.
Yohji doesn’t have ownership of the zip-up sneaker. Diemme is better known as a builder of inch-perfect hiking boots, the kind crafted from supple leather and Italian know-how that it would be a shame to actually subject to the great outdoors.
But it does a solid line in sneakers too, bringing that craftsmanship to sleeker, sportier silhouettes like the Fontesi. It’s fashioned from baby’s buttocks-soft suede that, needless to say, you’re better breaking out in the city than up an Alp.
Available at Menlook, priced £284.
Axel Arigato Clean 90 Laceless
From its Swedish base, sneaker upstart Axel Arigato has been quietly knocking out some of the swishest trainers around, and this laceless take on its Clean 90 silhouette features an innovative split upper that’s minimalist without being dull.
Your suit just found its new best friend.
Available at axelarigato.com, priced £150.
adidas x Raf Simons Stan Smith Buckle
Raf Simons’ traditional takes on the Stan Smith don’t tend to play with the shape too much. But this season, alongside the material upgrades, he’s slung a trio of buckles across the laces.
Admittedly, they don’t so much hide the laces as add more bulk, but when you’ve copped Raf, you want people to know that you’ve copped Raf. And by using the fastening as an innovative spin on the Three Stripes logo, the Belgian wizard steps out in front of his collaborator.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £260.
Nike Sock Dart
The Sock Dart originally dropped in 2004, then got a reissue a decade later, with spins from HTM-affiliate Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design studio. Predictably, they disappeared.
Nike saw fit to drop some mainline colourways last year, so now everyone can enjoy the foot-swaddling forerunner of Flyknit and that iconic, semi-clear strap, which turns the shoe into something you might see striding around the Starship Enterprise.
Just couple it with your slimline joggers, not a red jumpsuit.
Available at Nike, priced £95.
Master Of Arts Elastic Breaker
Founded in Florence in 2013, MOA crafts sneakers that tap into contemporary art. Which translates to trainers with architectural silhouettes, done up in prints inspired by mid-century masters.
The Elastic Breaker shuns laces, locking your foot with an elastic strap instead. It links a pair of mesh panels that modernise the slip-on shape, and keep your feet breezy on those sticky Italian summers.
Available at moaconcept.com, priced €155.
Common Projects Achilles Three Strap
It must be tricky in the Common Projects design lab. When your entire brand’s built on a trainer so minimalist it’s become iconic, your bosses probably don’t smile on suggestions to add new elements.
So kudos to which intern pitched slinging a trio of velcro straps across the Achilles’ super-sleek upper. Yes, it breaks the shoe’s clean lines. Yes, it makes you look a little bit like the kid in class who’s not worked out laces yet. But it’s how you stunt when everyone in your office has the same pair of CP lace-ups.
Available at END Clothing, priced £269.
FashionBeans associate editor Tom Banham is an outerwear addict with bylines in GQ, Men’s Health and Mr Porter.
He’s fascinated by the collision of high fashion and streetwear, but also knows his way around a soft-shouldered blazer. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @banham_tom