Written by André Larnyoh
Being in an increasingly casual world, it’s easy to find yourself at a loss at what to put on your feet. With rolling lockdowns, which for the most part means you’re not going further than up the road for coffee, every day feels like a weekend now. Everyone lives in slippers at the moment, but for the times when you go outside, wearing a stiff pair of leather shoes might not be first on your mind.
Personally, I love loafers and boots, but these situations call for the humble sneaker. Admittedly they come in all shapes and sizes from running shoes, from tennis shoes to the “Ugly Sneakers trend, so whittling down the options isn’t easy. Hi Tops are usually my go to, but the classic canvas kind aren’t always suitable for the job. They only work during the most casual of situations like a pop to the shop or the pub. So lately, I’ve found myself in need of a pair of good pair of low cut sneakers. The simple kind made of quality leathers that can seamlessly blend into almost any situation. The modern wardrobe calls for something sleek, versatile, but, above all else, comfortable and the past ten years have seen sneakers elevated to a place that few thought they would reach.
The term smart sneakers was previously an oxymoron you never would have thought to see on paper, but now most social clubs and restaurants with dress codes have it firmly written down as acceptable attire. A pair of smart looking leather sneakers (or trainers to some) can nowadays see you through most public places. You can’t help but appreciate the overall simplicity of a pair.
All White Box Calf variants of the Overstone Derby Sneaker - Overstone TL (left) Overstone Classic (right)
I don’t know why I’m so late to this, maybe it's because I haven’t found the right one yet. Stan Smith’s had my eye for a while, and whilst it was the shoe that started the all white, smart sneaker trend as we know it, they’re everywhere at the moment. So I’m pretty happy to discover that the sneaker line from Crown Northampton actually derives its DNA from their already popular Jazz line, whose silhouettes are incredibly minimalist. Clean lines, and pared back designs form the backbone of both ranges and it's with the Upton that I am most sold on. It's an elegant looking shoe made from a single leather upper, similar to the Jazz Regent, but the Upton’s simplicity as a sneaker makes for a versatile and unassuming update on the humble sneaker.
Upton Wholecut Sneaker - All White Box Calf
When it comes to how to wear the Crown Northampton sneakers, keeping the overall outfit simple is the recommended way to start. For starters I've found they work incredibly well with tailoring, so a pair of tapered dark grey or navy wool trousers on top of a pair of all white Uptons, creates a very modernist and sleek look. Paired with a roll neck and a dark bomber jacket, you’ve got a combo that would carry you through the city on the way to work or to dinner. However, the beauty of having such a simple shoe is that you can dare to be bold, so a striped or checked trouser would even work nicely. For a weekend (or lockdown) jaunt, then the obligatory pair of faded denim and a button down shirt will keep you feeling comfortable as you trudge through the leaves or pick up bread from your local farmers market. Personally, I like the idea of wearing the Overstone Derby model in Horween No.8 leather with a pair of full legged corduroys and a shaggy dog jumper, giving off a collegiate vibe that suggests I’ve skipped class to go write a play or climb a tree.
Abington Toe Cap - No 8 Horween Chromexcel
The overall impression that you want to give off through a pair of smart sneakers is the same if you were wearing a pair of All Stars; everything is chill. It's an effortless energy, enhanced by a shoe that is inherently so. The Crown Northampton range of sneakers are made for someone who doesn’t want to think too much about what to wear in the morning for a walk, a roast or drinks after work. They should and can be thrown on at a moment’s notice and work with almost everything you have, be that denim or high rise wool trousers. They don’t need to be fussed over, let time and the streets have their way until they really become yours. They should be the easy option and these days that's all people really want. Comfortable footwear that’ll see you all year round.
Written by André Larnyoh
Photography by Alex Natt & Ben Lloyd