These Are the 4 Biggest Trainer Trends of 2020 So Far

At the end of 2019, I spoke to some leading trainer experts, including Diadora CEO Enrico Polegato as well as Nia Jones, co-founder and creative director of new sustainable sneaker brand Good News, on what kind of sneakers we’d see everywhere in 2020.

Before this year, trainer trends arguably fell into one of two categories. Either they were very much on the "ugly," oversize side of things with the high street and designers pushing out bold trainers, or they fell into the more classic category. Veja's sustainable trainers were particularly prominent, as influencers and celebrities such as Emma Watson and Meghan Markle favoured them throughout 2019.


(Image credit: @aude_julie)

So what about 2020's sneaker trends? Well, these predictions were all made well before the pandemic. Then, we started to spend a lot of our time inside, and daily walks became our only "outings." While things have definitely shifted since March, the need for comfy and easy-to-walk-in shoes remains. You need only see the increase in bike sales and the plethora of people in our parks and countryside to understand that. 

That said, I very much believe that the predictions from over six months ago remain. For example, sustainability is at the forefront of our minds, and trainers like Vejas will continue to be popular. However, for this piece, I also spoke to global fashion search platform Lyst, analysed the 2020 runway trends and looked at what our fashion friends are wearing on Instagram. From all this, I can see there are four main trainer styles that are big this year so far. Keep scrolling to find out what they are.


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Thanks to the prevalence of Veja's classic sneaker styles, as well as the emergence of nu-minimalism, there is no doubt that pared-back sneakers are huge in 2020. Of course, the real iconic version is now Adidas's Stan Smiths, so beloved by former Céline Creative Director Phoebe Philo. Stella McCartney created her own minimal sneakers for S/S 20, and they're perfect for wearing with camel-coloured or grey suit trousers. 

As Polegato said, "In fashion, everything makes a comeback, and right now, it's the turn of retro sneakers. While chunky, 'ugly' fashion silhouettes have dominated for the past few seasons, 2020 will see a return to nostalgic models of the past: classic sneaks, ’80s runners and tennis shoes. Next year will be a new golden era for slimmer, lighter ’80s retro silhouettes. I’m sure they will hit the shelves of all sorts of retailers. The archives are just a treasure trove of them."


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Platform soles are not new. In 2018 and 2019, we saw the likes of Gucci, Ganni and Fila creating chunky, reminiscent-of-the-Spice-Girls, oversize sneakers. While there are fewer of these over-the-top trainers, 2020 sneakers are holding on to the chunky sole. The proof? For starters, Lyst, in its roundup of the year, revealed that Alexander McQueen's platform-soled sneakers were searched for every two minutes. Plus, I saw Yasmin Sewell wearing these sneakers during London Fashion Week, and she's always a good yardstick for trends to come. 


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The chunky, oversize, "ugly" sneakers have definitely taken a hit on the popularity front in 2020. On the S/S 20 Balenciaga and Gucci runways, there were fluorescent sneakers that, while "big" in colour, were more pared-back in style—more like classic running shoes with bold hues. "Dad shoes," confirmed Polegato, "will also continue in 2020. It’s all about nostalgic throwbacks from the ’80s where simplicity is key."

Similarly, Jones revealed that the contemporary take on 2020's sneaker trends will involve "fluorescent-effect or contrasting tones."


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According to Lyst’s index, for the first quarter of 2020, "demand for New Balance sneakers has been growing worldwide in terms of both searches and sales. With endorsements by the likes of Kate Middleton, Rihanna and model Kaia Gerber, pageviews for the brand have increased 41% quarter-on-quarter.” And boy, have we seen a lot of New Balance sneakers around. But it's not just the aforementioned trainers that are popular—there are also other classic vintage styles that are making a comeback. 


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This piece was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. Next up, the biggest summer 2020 fashion trends to know.

Elinor Block