As far as "upscale" Chuck Taylors go, we're big fans of John Varvatos' upgraded All Stars — but if the rock/punk/distressed style isn't your thing, check out these Converse Chuck Taylor Clean-Crafted Oxfords ($100). These strikingly plain Chucks are upgraded with fine leather and trimmed in suede to give the classic sneaker a decidedly more subdued look while still differentiating themselves from the ones you can buy at JCPenney.
Understated and durable (and a bit pricey), the Outlier Feit Supermarine Sneaker ($260) is a throwback to a simpler time of sneaker production. The Supermarine is handmade to ensure the highest quality possible, and features a dual-material upper — water-resistant, breathable Supermarine Cotton on the outside and French calf leather on the inside — with only two seams, a full-length French vegetable leather outsole, a two piece Vibram sheet rubber layer for grip and traction, handmade Goodyear welt construction, a buffalo leather insole, and waxed cotton laces.
Like any good mashup, these new Nike Steven Alan Lava Sneakers ($155) mix a little of the old with a little of the new. The result of a collaboration between Nike and Steven Alan, these understated kicks — culled from the Nike archives — feature a downsized swoosh, exclusive colors, and a mixture of suede and nylon on the upper with a Zoom Air cushioning unit between your foot and the harsh, unforgiving ground.