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In April 2021, both Emerald Fennell and Chloe Zhao collected their respective Oscars dressed in stunning couture from fashion houses Gucci and Hermès - and pairs of comfy, stylish trainers underneath their gorgeous gowns.
It signalled a sea-change in fashion expectations - these two women, at the top of their respective fields, were the perfect illustration that looking good doesn’t mean being uncomfortable. If trainers can be worn as formal wear at the Academy Awards, they can be worn as fashion just about anywhere.
One-time derided for being too practical to look good, modern fashion trainers run the gamut from elegant to sophisticated, fun to sexy. All this, and you can amp up your outfit without having to fret about breaking your bones.
Read more: Best sports shoes 2021: gym trainers for CrossFit, weight-lifting, and cardio, from Nike, Reebok, and Inov-8
Here are some of the coolest women’s trainers and fashion flats for Spring/Summer 2021.
An effortlessly cool sneaker from the reigning queen of French boho chic, Isabel Marant.
Suede front panel, designer-stamped white leather heel panel, perforated sides, rubber sole, round toe.
Wanting to look cute while being eco-conscious? These sunshine yellow canvas trainers tick both boxes. With 100% vegan insoles made from organic mamona oil and cork, it ensures optimal comfort and fit, while not harming any animals.
Upper: Cotton canvas. Lining: Cotton canvas.Sole: 100% slip-resistant rubber. Insole: Mamona oil bio based with cork insert
Oh-so-cool Brazilian footwear brand Veja (it means ‘look’ in Portuguese-Brazilian) have a fair claim on being the most ethical footwear brand in the world.
Extra white babe is made of ethically-sourced leather, looks terrific, and feels cushy soft.
Materials: Upper Material: Leather Lining: Textile Sole: Rubber Fastening: Lace Up
As if you needed any further evidence trainers can be a fashion statement - we present these superb Saint Laurent leather numbers.
Silver star appliqué, embossed designer stamp at tongue, black designer-stamped leather heel panel, cream textured rubber sole, round toe
These just toe the line of being flats, if you’ll excuse the pun - what looks like a hint of a heel is, in fact, just a very chunky sole - offering you a bit of extra swagger, but no discomfort.
Made from high shine lux leather, this is a classic penny loafer that will look fabulous with midi or maxi dresses. Be warned: they run slightly narrow.
Chrome Free Aldehyde Tanned Lining Leather Upper and Lining.
Leopard print is a neutral. Converse high-tops never go out of style. Pair the two and you’ve some sneakers you can wear with anything, anywhere, anytime.
Materials: Upper Material: Canvas, Lining: Textile, Sole: Rubber, Fastening: Lace Up
Every wardrobe needs a pair of perennially cool white trainers. Campers are reliable and classically cool. With white natural leather uppers, logo-embossed tongue, round toe, perforated side detailing, and lace-up fastening.
Materials: leather uppers, rubber sole.
We already mentioned that leopard print is a neutral, meaning these sexy Boden trainers can be paired with pretty much everything. We love the luxe, supple leather, multiple tones, and old-fashioned laces.
Upper textile: leather and suede. Lining leather and textile.
There’s nothing we don’t love about these Kurt Geiger trainers, with their resplendent ice white leather standing in contrast to metallic rainbow stripes.
Material: Leather Lining: Fabric Sole: Rubber
Vans are perennially popular as low-key, cool streetwear. Their latest offering is a graphically bold collab with the so-hot-right-now fashion brand Opening Ceremony.
Canvas uppers featuring leopard and checkerboard prints, this classic low-top shoe also includes Vans’ signature rubber waffle outsoles.
Adidas’ iconic three-stripe design never goes out of style, and this jaunty pink/blue/white colourway is striking without being obnoxious.
Upper: 50% Real leather, 50% Textile, Lining: 100% Textile, Sole: 100% Other materials.
These metallic pink canvas trainers will pep up any outfit: cute as a pop of colour with a pair of jeans, or a delightful accent colour with a floaty midi dress.
Upper: 100% Textile. Lining: 100% Textile. Sole: 100% Rubber.
Any runner knows that New Balance makes some of the best running shoes on the market. These come with the added bonus of being delightfully pretty, with their dusky rose pattern. Perfect for power clashing with a floral dress.
Canvas upper, rubber outsole.
If you’ll permit us a second pair of Vans, we just adore these super-cute Simpsons-themed slip-ons, adorned with the perennial favourite show’s beloved characters.
These mid-rise, zip-up trainers are brilliantly durable. They’re perfect for that nineties ‘white-sneaker-with-blue-jeans’ look that Seinfeld perfected - and is now back in fashion.
Upper: 77% Leather-23% Synthetic, Lining: 71% Textile-29% Synthetic.
Jaunty, bright colours are on trend this year (we’re all looking for reasons to party). Internationally renowned muralist James Goldcrown has brought the colour volume with his new design for Skechers. Added benefit - as it’s Skechers, you know these sneaks will be long-lasting and comfortable.
Canvas upper with a textured cap toe, Vulcanized chevron embossed platform midsole, Flexible rubber traction outsole
Good running trainers have an unfortunate habit of looking... less than impressive. Not so with the very popular Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2, which look chic enough for day to day wear, but perform brilliantly when you’re out for a run. They’re breathable, provide great support, and cushion your foot as you run.
You can even customise the look if you want, too.
Yes, these are technically brogues, not trainers. But we couldn’t resist including our pair from our faves Rogue Matilda, who makes some of the most wearable, striking flats on the market. Lush.
Metallic leather upper, leather stripe, neolite, rubber mix sole, tan calfskin lining.
These jacquard sneakers from Kate Spade are ideal for those who love a hint of heritage in their style.
Material: Leather Lining: Fabric Sole: Rubber