The European trainer brands you need to know

From high-performance trainers to handcrafted leather trend-led pairs, we are the trainer generation. They have become the staple shoe whether it’s work, weekends or events. Aside from the big names that have dominated the trainer sphere for decades, there are a few brands that are doing things a little differently and ergo deserve a place in any sneakerhead’s wardrobe. From the latest running trainers making their way into our mainstay wardrobe to the French duo pioneering environmentally-friendly footwear, these are the European trainer brands you need to know.



It’s not often that you find a brand that places as much importance on the environment and ethically-sound practices as it does on style and design, but then VEJA is no ordinary brand. Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion founded the Parisian brand in 2005, with a desire to create stylish sneakers that would last a lifetime as well as having a positive impact on every part of the manufacturing process.

The pair headed to Brazil – the only country to have organic, fair trade cotton and wild rubber – to realise their dream, where each pair of VEJA trainers is ethically created. The sleek and subtle branding has also played a part in them becoming a firm favourite.

Axel Arigato

axel arigato

The Swedish trainer brand with a cult following, Axel Arigato has been creating sleek, minimal and exceptionally well-crafted trainers since its beginnings in 2014. Based in Gothenburg, Axel Arigato takes inspiration from its country of origin, as well as Japanese design, to create contemporary trainers with a difference. Handcrafted in Portugal, the devil is in the detail with these trainers – think fine Italian leathers, calfskin linings and Margom rubber soles.


adidas is one of the most famous sportswear brands globally to this day. Founded by Adolf “Adi” Dassler in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1949. The name adidas comes from its founder’s name, Adolf, and its abbreviation, “Adi.” The Adidas AG, the Adidas group, is one of the largest manufacturers of sports shoes in Europe and the second-biggest in the world after the main competitor Nike.



Some of Adidas’s most iconic collections have been in collaboration with hip-hop artists. The label has released Kanye YEEZY-branded sneakers, Pharrell Williams, Pusha-T, and Missy Elliott endorsements. Adidas’ importance in hip-hop dates back to the mid-’80s and Run-DMC’s love of the brand’s tracksuits and shell-toe Superstar sneakers, culminating in the 1986 single “My Adidas.” The most famous sneaker styles have been adidas Samba which is currently having a massive moment, adidas Stan Smith’s, and the iconic shell-toe adidas Superstar silhouettes.

Golden Goose

Handcrafted in Venice by Italian artisans,  Golden Goose was founded to capture stories and experiences from around the world. Since the birth of the brand, Golden Goose has successfully combined relaxed vintage designs with Italian sartorial quality.

golden goose


Each trainer is the product of years of craftsmanship, and the unique imperfections that can be found on every pair of handmade Golden Goose sneakers add an element of the soul often missing from contemporary footwear designs.


Hoka One One was founded in France in 2009 by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard who previously worked with outdoor brand Salomon. The brand is recognised for its oversized midsoles and has become moved into the mainstream spotlight not only in the running world but as a staple trainer.



The trainers are designed with the same enhanced cushioning, inherent stability and problem-solving inspiration that now meets the needs of a wide variety of runners. The brand also has developed many alternatives as progress in sustainability, initiates such as HOKA’s recycled paper efforts have saved over 802,000 trees since 2016 and fewer unwanted materials with over 97% of styles containing at least one preferred material (a recycled, renewed or naturally sourced material).


Words by Angharad Jones

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert