The Coolest New Sneakers of 2012

Ellis “Red” Redding once mused that people rarely look down at a man’s shoes. No disrespect to the timeless philosophies we learned at Shawshank Pen, but shoes have changed a hell of a lot since Red’s day, and what a man wears on his feet is just as important as the rest of his attire. Hence, this roundup of classy kicks you can rock almost anywhere.

Clae McQueen Like its namesake, the McQueen is cool in a no-frills kind of way, made up of the bare essentials and ready for action. We dig the Oatmeal Denim color combo, but the shoe comes in 10 different styles, so you can pick the right one for your look. $95,

Creative Recreation Tucco The Tucco’s new “biscotti” colorway renders the sneaker in brown leather on a grey sole, a combination that works well with the shoe’s overlapping leather strips and neat silhouette. It’s one fine sneak. $110,

El Naturalista Iroko N654 If the Iroko N654 looks like it’s from a dystopian future where everything is made from recycled materials, that’s because it kind of is, minus the future part. El Naturalista constructs its products using natural, eco-friendly materials, and the all-natural rubber sole and hand-stitched nubuck leather outer reflect that philosophy. $180,

Common Projects Achilles Low Every man should own a pair of plain white sneakers. Low profile, low maintenance and utterly simple, the Achilles Low is the prototypical sneaker, a style that could’ve rolled off the assembly line 50 years or 15 minutes ago. $384,

Keen Santa Cruz With its casual chukka styling and simple suede outer, the Santa Cruz looks pretty straightforward. Inside, though, it sports a memory foam sole that conforms to the shape of your foot, making for one seriously comfortable pair of kicks. $80,

Asics Runspark The Runspark is part of Asics’ Onitsuka Tiger collection. The collection is a throwback to the shoes originally created by the Japanese company Onitsuka Tiger, which went on to merge with two other brands to form Asics in 1977. The Runspark itself was originally produced in 1970, hence its distinct retro styling. $85,

Vans Graph A clean, lightweight design lends the Graph a unique look that lands somewhere between skate shoe and racing flat. Inside, it’s outfitted with modern tech like Ultracush open cell foam in the sole, and heel cushioning that mimics the fit of a running shoe. $90,

New Balance for J. Crew 988 Following the signature New Balance style, the 988 was constructed in collaboration with J. Crew. That means it probably goes really well with a pair of faded chinos and a casual button-down. Or pretty much anything else you happen to be wearing. $140,

The Hundreds Johnson Mid Canvas, suede and a molded insole. What else do you really need in a shoe? How about a padded comfort collar, a vulcanized sole and 11 color combos to choose from? $64,