What makes a really great pair of sneakers? It depends, of course, on what you’re looking for. Some search for kicks that will catch the eye and be the stand out piece of an outfit, while others simply want something to easily complement the rest of their getup. If you count yourself in the latter category, then you should consider (if you haven’t already) picking up a pair of gum sole sneakers.
Something about the combination of an all white or solid upper with the neutral natural tone of gum rubber makes these shoes incredibly easy to wear with any color pallete. This neutral brownish tone was originally the result of a specific process of creating rubber. The style, however, has gained enough popularity that a lot of sneaker makers will simply dye the rubber on the bottom of their shoes to match this attractive tan hue. We wanted to put together a list here of some of the hands down best gum-soled sneakers out there – from the classic Killshot to some options you may not immediately think of. Take a look through and pick up a pair of summer kicks for yourself.
Native Shoes Jefferson
If you are looking to maybe get a little weird with your shoe picks this summer then consider the Jefferson from Native Shoes. The proudly odd company’s Jefferson silhouette is reminiscent of a Chuck Taylor low, but has an upper made using an injection EVA construction. While this upper is white, the mid, toecap, and outsole boast a gum rubber look. All things said, this anachronistic pick is a great one for the summer not only because of its unique ventilated construction – but because of its classic and simple color palette.
Not all gum sole sneakers feature a white or leather upper. Just take Van’s Era for instance. The classic silhouette from the California sneaker brand boasts a canvas upper with double stitching along the toe box, blacked out eyelets, laces, and a black faux leather lining around the ankle of the shoe. A striking shoe fit for any casual occasion.
York Athletics Henry Mid
This sneaker from York Athletics has much more to recommend than just its slim gum sole along the bottom of the shoe. Boasting a breathable lightweight mesh along the heel, and a perforated toe box, the shoe is ideal for training. Unlike most classic gum sole sneakers you’ll come across, this one doesn’t feature a tan mid – just a carbon injected rubber outsole dyed to meet that classic tan hue. While that may be a turn off for some, the more slim approach paired with the super breathable upper might be the right ticket the more athletically inclined.
Greats is, hands down, one of our favorite sneaker brands out there. The Rosen, a shoe in their ‘legacy collection’, boasts a nylon upper with suede details along the toebox, heel, eyelets, and tongue. The deep lugged FreeRide outsole of the shoe is sourced from Vibram, boasts a classic gum look, and provides plenty of traction. Because you know that anything Vibram turns out is going to be quality, you can expect the shoe to last for many summers to come.
Converse Chuck II Gum High Top
Do we really need to say anything about this sneaker? Probably not, but we’ll lay it all out anyway. The silhouette that can do no wrong is set up here with a stark white canvas, Nike’s Lunarlon insole, and a gum rubber sidewall and toecap. Not only does this iteration of the sneaker look totally ready for summer wear, but thanks to the Nike’s super comfortable insole, it feels ready for it too.
Superga 2750 Cotu Classic
Like everything European, these sneakers feel both familiar and foreign. That is, in our estimation, part of what makes them such a great pair of kicks. The shoe’s proportions are slightly different than what you’d find on any pair of American lowtops – with the tongue of the shoe dipping right down to the mid. Otherwise, they’re just what you’d expect from a canvas top sneaker. And paired with the gum sidewalls – they’re nothing if not ideal for warm weather wear.
adidas originals Stan Smith
In a list about classic sneakers, we’d be remiss not to include Adidas’ originals Stan Smith. Among the first sneaker to really be ‘sponsored’ by an athlete, the Stan Smith has not only lasted the test of time – but is constantly celebrated with different variations and special editions that seem to be constantly coming out. This, however, is not one of those celebrations. The shoe is about as paired down and simple as it gets – sporting a gum sole mated a full grain leather upper.
J.Crew x New Balance 791
Northeastern prep is most at home in Boston, so it makes sense the bean-town based footwear brand would be so willing to collaborate with the likes of J.Crew. For this project New Balance dug into their archive, pulled out their 791, and gave it a few updates – including a perforated ‘N’, and a super comfortable fleece lining. Of course, one of the more send out parts of the shoe is its striking natural rubber outsole. Top quality summer wear for sure.
J.Crew x Nike Killshot 2
One of the most sought after collaborations with Nike isn’t with a basketball star or fashion icon – it’s with J.Crew. The shoes have only been released twice in as many years, and each time they’re put up for sale, they all disappear in a matter days. While they aren’t available now, we couldn’t let ourselves write a list and not include the coveted silhouette. The limited run features a leather upper with suede detailing along the toe box, heel, and laces. Of course, it also boasts a solid gum-sole that ties it all together.
Just as the New Balances or the Nikes on this list, the C85 Sneakers from Reebok feature a kind of old school cool you just can’t find in modern silhouettes. A leather upper with perforations along the toe paired with the classic old logo from the men’s athletic footwear brand are good enough on their own – but when paired with the gum mid they’re practically perfect.
15 Best All Black Sneakers For Men
Not feeling the light vibe of these retro sneakers? Take a look out our comprehensive list of the best all black sneakers.