I like fashion that has a bit of history attached to it, and footwear doesn’t get more classic than the tennis shoe. Its origins date back to the 1830s when the first canvas shoes with rubber soles began to appear. They were called plimsolls, and the word refers to the plimsoll line on a ship’s hull - the area where the ship meets the water (if you’ve ever got your canvas plimsolls wet above the rubber line you’ll understand this reference!). In my opinion, a fashion tennis shoe should always look a bit like this old-fashioned style. I’m not talking about the performance shoes Andy Murray might wear on court this week; the sneakers that Fred Perry wore when he won way back in 1936 (below) are far more on point. So long as they’re canvas or leather and they’re mostly white, they’re fine with me.
So what’s so great about a pair of traditional tennis shoes? Well, their simplicity means that they go with just about everything. Remember how everyone was obsessed with Stan Smiths last year? The fashion world loved them because they looked great with everything from tailoring to skirts to the obvious choice, a pair of blue jeans. And of course, tennis shoes are incredibly comfortable. Plus, they’re usually pretty reasonably priced, too. So what are you waiting for? If you don’t already own a pair, here are my favourites available to buy now.
This brand is named after Rene Lacoste, a champion French tennis player who won his first tournament aged 17. The amazing sweatshirt I'm wearing (top) is from the Lacoste Vintage Ads collection, available in store now.
Lacoste tennis shoes, £70, very.co.uk
Until Andy Murray came along, no British man had won Wimbledon since Fred Perry back in 1936. I love this lace-less take on the canvas shoe.
Fred Perry tennis shoes, £48, fredperry.com
Another shoe named after a great tennis player, the Stan Smith is the biggest selling tennis shoe of all time.
Adidas Stan Smith trainers, £62, adidas.co.uk
The most retro of retro tennis shoes, the Dunlop Green Flash is often the cheapest as well. Win win.
Dunlop Green Flash plimsolls, from £19.99, amazon.co.uk
This was Italy’s answer to the tennis shoe long before Alexa Chung made these sneakers world famous.
Superga sneakers, £45, superga.co.uk
Le Coq Sportif
These are the Arthur Ashe trainers, named after yet another stellar tennis player. When are we going to get some Andy Murrays? WHEN?
Le Coq Sportif tennis shoes, £65, lecoqsportif.com
OK, so they’re not all cheap. Here’s the designer option if you’re that way inclined. Well, they are REALLY cool…
Valentino sneakers, £400, matchesfashion.com