Running Shoes vs Sneakers vs Tennis Shoes – Which Should You Buy?


There’s a host of stylish footwear options out there – but what’s the difference between them?

There’s never been a time in fashion where there’s a more varied selection of footwear for men to tap into. Whether it’s old, new, or futuristic, there’s a footwear style you’ll be able to incorporate into your look, and one of the most rapidly adopted subsets is the sneaker. Whether it’s street-style or minimalist dressing-up – sneakers are more popular now than ever before.

Retro sneakers, runners, and court shoes – they’re all extremely popular and although they share some similarities they’re all actually designed for very different purposes, and we’re going to dive into those differences now!

Running Shoes

It may seem like the name explains these completely, but due to the change in technology and the explosion of the athleisure trend, all running shoes are in fact not created equal. So where does potential confusion come in? Well, the biggest question to ask is whether or not you’re getting running shoes for fashion or function?

If your answer is fashion, you’ll probably want to look out for older, classic silhouettes like Nike’s Air Max 1, or an Asics Gel-Lyte III. Now, although these were originally engineered for actual running, that was some time ago, and technology has come on in leaps and bounds since then.

If you’re intending on doing some hard miles in your shoes, it’s best to look for running shoes that are designed to take a beating rather than looking good on your #OOTD pics; like these Under Armour HOVR Phantoms:

Tennis Shoes

These can also be confusing because of how time and technology has changed what a ‘tennis shoe’ actually is. Way back when, tennis court shoes were fairly minimal shoes that simply had a flat white sole (to not damage the court too badly) and a simple lacing system, much like that of Adidas Stan Smiths:

Although they look pretty sleek, they’re not actually that well-suited to sprinting across a court chasing someone’s drop-shot, but they have become a staple among sneaker enthusiasts because they suit effectively any outfit. Nowadays, actual tennis shoes used to get some aces past your opponent on court will look like these Nike Air Zoom Resistance hard court shoes:


Sneakers are effectively just a group name for any casual shoe that people wear these days, and because of the long history of traditional sport shoes becoming casually worn items, the variety of sneakers is exceptionally broad. The original Air Jordan 1 designed for basketball? Sneakers. Nike Tennis Classic court shoes? Also sneakers. Adidas Sambas designed for indoor football? Yep – they’re sneakers, too. Even modern, professional basketball shoes designed for court-use are frequently casually worn. The main idea behind sneakers is that although they often have sporting origins, comfort is the key factor to consider. You might look cool in a pair of Nike Hyperdunks – but after the second or third hour of wearing them, you may begin regretting your decision. Here are some of the most popular (and comfy) sneaker choices to keep an eye out for:

Nike Air Max 1

Adidas Ultra Boost (Uncaged)

Vans Old Skool

Which sneakers make your regular rotation? Let us know by tweeting @MenStuffZA, posting on our Facebook page, or commenting below.

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