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When you’re ready to step out of those high heels and pair your baggy jeans or low-rise denim with something more casual, you really can’t go wrong with a great pair of sneakers. A step up from basic white kicks, retro runners transition well for casual back-to-the-office looks for fall and beyond, all while looking to the past to add a bit of old-school playfulness to modern-day wardrobes.
Meghan Markle has been spotted spotted in eco-conscious sneakers from Rothy’s and Veja, and classic athletic footwear brands like Adidas, New Balance and Nike are regularly seen on stars including J. Lo, Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Naomi Watts, Shay Mitchell and Katie Holmes, to name just a handful.
If you’re looking to add vintage-inspired flair to your fall ensembles without crossing too far into the dad shoe trend or ugly sneaker territory, we’ve rounded up the best retro sneakers for women. You’ll find a slew of unisex trainers from the above go-to sportswear labels, as well as sustainable styles from Everlane, Madewell and others. See all of our top picks ahead.
1. New Balance Women’s 237 Sneakers
Available in three colorways, New Balance’s 237 sneakers nod to the brand’s 1970s running heritage while adding in modern touches such as the oversized N logo, gator-inspired foxing and mudguard. (We’re also fans of popular 574 sneakers, which get a road- and trail-friendly redesign and wider fit in this v2 silhouette for a sportier look.)
2. Ba&sh x Veja Sneakers
Cult-favorite Parisian fashion label Ba&sh and sustainable footwear brand Veja have teamed on a colorful sneaker capsule that’ll add a vibrant pep to your fall steps. The vintage-inspired kicks are primarily made of Veja’s Alveomesh (derived from recycled polyester) and come in two sunset-hued colorways, each featuring a vibrant tricolor wave at the heel and chunky notched soles.
3. Madewell Kickoff Trainer Sneakers
Madewell’s stylish retro trainers will please co-conscious wearers, which are made of sustainably sourced nubuck leather and recycled cotton lining and rubber outsoles. On top of all of that, the shoes are made with the brand’s “supercushy, ultrasupportive” Cloudlift insoles.
4. Everlane ReLeather Court Sneakers
Everlane’s ReLeather Court sneakers are made from — you guessed it — recycled leather. Also available in men’s sizes and other colors, these sleek steppers are an eco-friendlier version than the direct-to-consumer brand’s original style, thanks to a manufacturing process that requires no dyes, uses less water and creates less waste.
5. Rag & Bone Retro Runners
Earn fashion and eco street cred with Rag & Bone’s retro runners, which feature an upper of suede and recycled polyester (made of 100 percent plastic bottles) and a cushioned EVA footbed with arch support.
6. Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Next Nature Sneakers
Though Nike has no shortage of vintage-inspired sneakers (think the Challenger, the Cortez and the Waffle Trainer, to name a few), we’re fans of their classic Air Force 1 ’07 Next Nature kicks for their sustainable makeover. The ’80s-born silhouette features lightweight cushioning and a padded, low-cut collar for comfort, and it’s made from at least 20 percent recycled materials; other colors available.
7. Puma Unisex Roma Sneakers
Originally created for sprinters in 1968, Puma’s sporty Roma sneakers come in stylish leather and suede options and feature a comfortable low-profile cut and a reinforced heel for comfort. (Rihanna has served as creative director for the brand.) The shoes come in men’s sizes, so women should order 1.5 sizes down from the listed size.
MORE BUYING OPTIONS: Puma | Amazon
8. Converse Women’s Chuck Taylor All-Star High Top Sneakers
Originally released in the 1920s, Converse’s classic Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers have been worn by everyone from punk rockers like the Ramones to rap stars including Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. The iconic footwear brand’s high-top kicks come in a range of colorful canvas and leather options, and you can get them in the Lift Platform Leather silhouette for a statement-making upgrade for fall.
MORE BUYING OPTIONS: Converse | Amazon
9. Tretorn Women’s Rawlins Sneakers
Available in more than 10 stylish colors, Sweden-born brand Tretorn’s Rawlins sneakers evoke the classic tennis shoe silhouette with hints of lavender, 2022’s Pantone color of the year. These shoes have an EcoOrtholite insole, extra heel cushioning and a natural rubber outsole for all-day comfort, breathability and traction.
10. Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid Banned Sneakers
Swoosh superfans who prefer rare kicks can find some of the coolest retro sneakers at Kicks Crew, the global resale platform for in-demand sneakers and streetwear. (They’ve even got Billie Eilish’s sold-out AF 1 High ’07 collab in the mushroom colorway.) Sneakerheads who prefer a bolder pop of color can go for Nike’s Air Jordan 1 “Banned” style that throws it back to 1985, and the pair has been a classic since then.
11. Adidas x Ivy Park Super Sleek Sneakers
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t look good in Adidas’ cult-favorite Superstar sneakers, but for a Beyoncé-approved fashion statement, go for Ivy Park’s Savage Trail shoes instead. The ugly dad shoe trend is alive and well in this 1999 silhouette, which gets an update with luxe leather punctuated y fluid lines and neutral shades of sand, beige and dark khaki.
12. Saucony Shadow 6000 Suede Premium Sneakers
Heritage running brand Saucony is a natural choice if you’re looking for the best retro sneakers for women, men and kids. The label recently reimagined its Shadow 6000 sneakers in an all-suede silhouette, bringing a luxe upgrade to the iconic and super comfortable trainers. Other colors available.
13. Vans Old Skool Stackform Sneaker
Whether you’re a Sk8-Hi or low-top type, there’s something for every laid-back aesthetic from iconic Cali-cool brand Vans. The brand’s classic trainers feature the signature side stripe, a padded collar for comfort and a platform design. They come in other canvas and suede colorways.
MORE BUYING OPTIONS: Vans | Amazon
14. Rothy’s The Lace-Up Sneakers
Although they come in men’s sizing, these incredibly comfy lace-up sneakers from Rothy’s are unisex and fit almost all feet. Made from the brand’s signature knitted material spun from plastic water bottles, the shoes channel ’80s vibes and come in a range of classic colors. You’ll walk easy with the contoured footbed and grooved gum outsoles that are made of 20 percent bio-based materials.
15. Clarks Un Rio Sprint Sneakers
Clarks’ Un Rio Sprint sneakers are your best bet if you need all-day arch support. They’re equipped with an OrthoLite footbed that keeps your feet comfortable and dry, and they come in a range of versatile colorways.
16. Onitsuka Tiger Unisex Serrano Sneakers
Onitsuka Tiger is synonymous with the retro trainer aesthetic, as the Japanese sportswear brand was founded in 1949 and became known for outfitting the feet of marathon runners, Olympians and Bruce Lee — and let’s not forget the label’s cameo in Kill Bill (where Uma Thurman’s The Bride wore the Tai-Chi-Nm style in yellow). The revived footwear label’s unisex leather Serrano sneakers offer the same effortless look and come in a range of colors, and they pair easily with denim and maxi dresses alike.
17. Koio Retro Water Resistant Running Sneakers
Koio’s water-resistant leather retro runners will keep your stylish steppers dry with every stride.
18. Merrell Alpine Sneakers
For when you plan on scrambling up the trails, Merrell’s Alpine shoes are among the best hiking sneakers for women who want to traverse rugged terrain in style. These cool retro shoes have a leather and nylon upper, a breathable mesh lining, an EVA midsole for comfort and a rubber outsole for traction. It’s also got a removable Kinetic Fit contoured insole so you can customize your foot support.
19. Saucony Hornet Sneakers
Saucony’s classic Hornet shoes are inspired by the brand’s 1975 design, but with new materials (such as suede, mesh and a faux leather upper), an EVA midsole and a cushioned footbed for getting you where you need to go in style and comfort.
20. Veja V-10 Alveomesh Sneakers
Hands-down one of the best eco-friendly sneaker brands, Veja is regularly seen on the feet of stars like Chloe Grace Moretz, Emily Ratajkowski and Emma Watson. The France-based, Brazil-made label’s V-10 sneakers are made with the breathable Alveomesh material made of recycled polyester and a rubber sourced sustainably from the Amazon forest.
21. Re/Done ’70s Low Top Striped Sneakers
It Model-beloved brand Re/Done brings a luxurious spin on the ‘one 70s-inspired shoe silhouette with these retro women’s low-top metallic sneakers. Handmade in Italy, these shoes are crafted from ethically-sourced leather and suede and are finished with a foam tongue.
22. Karl Lagerfeld Platform Trainers
Long live Karl Lagerfeld, whose charming likeness graces these platform trainers from his namesake brand. They’re made of black leather with patent accents that add an edgy-luxe touch to summer looks.
23. Gucci x Adidas Gazelle Sneakers
For label lovers, Gucci and Adidas’ Gazelle sneakers are the ultimate luxury upgrade. This made-in-Italy pair — from the two powerhouse brands’ collaboration — was inspired by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michelle’s memories of the ’80s and ’90sz and fuses Adidas’ Trefoil print and signature triple white stripes with Gucci’s interlocking double-G monogram. The GG canvas is made from animal-free raw materials from sustainable, renewable and bio-based sources.
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