The Silver Running Sneaker Glow-Up has arrived

For decades, the silver mesh and metallic-accented sneaker has been a staple of the men’s footwear landscape. One of the biggest was Nike’s Air Max 97 “Silver Bullet”, the late 1990s style inspired by Japan’s shiny bullet trains, a futuristic combination of shiny mesh and reflective overlays. (The cult shoe is rumored to make a comeback later this year, for its 25th anniversary.) Since then, every major sneaker brand has introduced shiny kicks into their product offerings with varying degrees of fanfare.

Recently, however, two more silver sneakers have risen above the fray. They come from very different places: Japanese sportswear brand Asics and luxury fashion house Balenciaga. But although they differ, the two sneakers still have a lot in common.

Of the two brands, Asics is the one with the heritage here. The company has been producing silver running shoes for years, but its foray into the fashion world is more recent. Two years ago, Bulgarian-British designer Kiko Kostadinov reworked the Gel Kiril 2 in silver and lavender; and last year, Seoul label Andersson Bell offered an equally brilliant palette. More recently, Asics unveiled a revamped Gel-1090 silhouette, the running shoe of the 2000s that has been given a modern and fashion-forward makeover. The upper has been slightly simplified while retaining the flashy sweep lines of silver, and the sole has been reinforced with new cushioning.

In the world of Balenciaga, designer and current Kanye West BFF Demna Gvasalia has been selling a mesh and nylon “Runner” sneaker since last year. (That, of course, has a very Balenciaga price tag: $1,150.) Now, Demna has introduced the “Phantom” sneaker, a streamlined style that forgoes some of the flashy technical details but still packs a similar fashion punch. (It retails for $895.) In Balenciaga’s just-dropped campaign, the new shoe is front and center; models outfitted in soaring sweatpants and oversized hoodies pose with shoe in hand like a trophy – the brightest runner is always worn on foot.

In 2022, wearing ugly sneakers (and paying exorbitant prices for them) isn’t as polarizing as it used to be. In the fashion world, it’s almost expected. Models wear New Balances and luxury brands produce $900 shoes that could easily be confused with the ones suburban dads buy at the malls. And in the extended universe of bad-but-good sneakers is the shiny futuristic runner. Perhaps it was inevitable that metallic accents and shimmering mesh would have their own makeover moment; Asics and Balenciaga were the right ones for the job. Each brand brings something unique to the table – the rich heritage of Asics and the forward-thinking sensibility of Demna – but both have reinvented the style for this exact moment.

Asics Gel Kayano 14 sneakers

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Balenciaga “Phantom” sneakers

Adidas Originals x 032c GSG TR Trainers

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Salomon XT-Wings 2 Advanced Trainers

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Raf Simons Cylon-21 sneakers

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