How Common Projects Became the Best Dress Sneaker
Up until the early 2000s, city dwellers everywhere toted their brogues in a backpack as they navigated their commutes in a decidedly un-stylish pair of gym sneakers. Flash-forward to today, when the right pair of kicks looks just as slick with a suit as a Gucci loafer. What brand do we have to thank for the transition? Common Projects.
This cult line has been doing minimalism at its best since 2004. Here’s why Common Projects continues to live up to the hype.
Meet the Achilles
When former V Magazine art director Peter Poopat got together with brand consultant Flavio Girolami to start Common Projects more than 15 years ago, their first sneaker release had all of the makings of a dress shoe. The Original Achilles Low was crafted from top-quality materials including the most buttery-soft Napa leather on the upper and lining.
Also like a dress shoe, it had an appealing tapered toe, made in Italian factories akin to those that craft Bruno Magli and Florsheim’s wingtips. Most notable was the style’s minimal design, with no visible branding aside from a gold-stamped production number along the ankle.
The brand quickly drew a cult following for the $400 kicks. It paved the way for the “normecore” minimalism trend of the late aughts and hasn’t slowed down since.
In the decade that followed, Common Projects released an array of new styles, including Tournament Leather and Resort Classic sneakers. They have a slightly more substantial profile but still feature a minimal aesthetic and top-notch materials. In 2013, GQ photographed Bradley Cooper wearing Common Projects sneakers with a Giorgio Armani suit, solidifying the brand’s reign as the king of the dress sneaker.
Today, top celebrities and athletes continue to make the style their own, pairing classic white Common Projects with dress pants, full suits, or if you’re Patrick Schwarzenneger—head to toe hot-pink velvet. Current fans include Jamal Adams, Kyle Kuzma, and Kevin Hart. Tyga even rocked a pair with a pinstripe Lanvin Suit to the designer’s Fall/Winter show in Paris.
The shoe’s minimal appeal continues to let your personal style take center stage. Wear with a classic suit, slim-fit khakis, jeans, or even joggers. Skip socks or show off a patterned ankle. That’s the beauty of Common Projects.
Four Benjamins might be steep to drop on a pair of sneakers, but Common Projects’ expert tailoring, Italian craftsmanship, and durable sole is more akin to a high-end dress shoe than a typical trainer. You can polish the buttery Napa leather if you see a scuff, and you can get them resoled in the future, so they will last longer than most shoes (and save you dollars in the long run). Where they differ from your brogues is that they look just as good with a slim-cut suit as with your gym clothes.