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Radley Stories

Style Notes

Trainers in Fashion: A Radley London Guide To The Best Fashion Trainers

03 July 2023

We have an eye for fashion here at Radley London, which means we’re always keeping an eye on the season’s hottest styles. Among shoes, that could be autumn’s favourite chunky boots or summer’s comfortable sandals, but there’s one style that always comes out on top. Stylish trainers. From iconic white styles to fashion sport trainers, there are so many options.

What are Trainers?

First things first. What do we mean by trainers? We’re talking about the style of shoe that was originally created for athletic activities. This purpose is where the name comes from – trainers were made for training. However, over time, they’ve become a favourite to wear every day too and now it’s common to see people wearing fashion trainers every day. That’s understandable. Some would argue that there’s no shoe more comfortable than a supportive, cushioned trainer.

Here in the UK, we call them trainers, but you may also hear them called sneakers, runners, gym shoes, or even creps.


Trainers vs Sneakers

The two names are equally as common, so what’s really the difference between trainers and sneakers? It could be argued that these terms refer to different trainer styles – the term ‘sneakers’ is for those designed for fashion and aesthetic, rather than exercise. So, if you were working out, you’d choose a pair of sports trainers; or if you wanted a pair to wear with a smart or stylish outfit, you’d want fashion sneakers. 

However, it could be said that the difference between trainers and sneakers comes down to regional and international terminology. In America – and elsewhere – the term ‘sneakers’ is used to refer to both athletic shoes and fashion styles. Whereas in the UK, ‘trainers’ is used to describe both.

Over time, and with the rise of new trends and fashions, the difference between the two has become blurred. Now, no matter whether they’re sporty or stylish, trainers are a key staple and are an important part of any athleisure look – a huge fashion trend that’s continued to grow over the last few years.

The History of Trainers

It was back in the 19th century when the first trainers were created. Made with a rubber sole, thin fabric and laces, these shoes were designed for exercise and were even worn during Olympic running events. This style – known as ‘plimsolls’ – quickly became popular and was soon being used during boxing and tennis matches too. 

We know that the name ‘trainers’ is based on their purpose, so what are sneakers named after? It's all due to the rubber sole – a feature that means footsteps are silent and the wearer can sneak around quietly, thus leading to the creation of the name. 

It was the 1950s when we first began to see people wearing trainers in fashion. They were worn with another on-trend item of the era – denim jeans – in a trend that started with children and celebrities before it made its way into everyone’s wardrobe later. During this time, different trainers also began emerging for each sport, adapted for each one to provide the best results. For example, high-tops became basketball styles; white leather trainers became a shoe for tennis players; and low-top canvas ones became the style for skateboarders.  

In the history of trainers, it wasn’t until the ‘80s that we first saw ladies’ trendy trainers on the market. Up until then, they’d just been marketing towards men. (A huge difference compared with current times, when every brand is hoping to make a pair of the best women’s fashion trainers.) 

From the first thin-soled plimsolls to the thicker silhouettes that began to appear in the '90s, these shoes have developed over time and changed in line with rising and falling trends. In the late 2010s, we saw trends for ‘ugly’ styles and dad sneakers, as well as the chunky-soled silhouettes – all of which returned again in the early 2020s. 

One of the biggest trends, and one that’s never lost any interest, is white leather styles. So, if you’ve ever wondered ‘are white trainers fashionable’, just take a look around. Since the very first plimsolls were designed, this colour has only ever grown in popularity. They’re one of the most popular choices for stylish trainers for women.  

And the same goes for men too, with this style being one of the top trainers in fashion 2023 for all consumers.


How to Make Trainers Clean?

This is an important question, especially when it comes down to your best fashion trainers. To make them last longer and keep looking fresh, you’ll want to protect them.

If you’re wondering how to make trainers look fresh and clean, keep reading. We’ve done the research for you.

  1. If they're muddy, wait for the mud to dry, then clap the shoes together. This will knock off any chunks of mud. 
  2. Remove the laces and place them in a bowl of warm water. Add some washing powder and even some bleach if they’re white. Leave them in the bowl for a few minutes, then remove and allow them to dry.
  3. Wipe down the shoes with a damp cloth, then mix some warm water with a little detergent and scrub the leather with a toothbrush. This will remove marks and scuffs. 
  4. Once you have scrubbed away any scuffs, rinse them off. Pat the shoe down with a towel and leave to dry. Once your trainers have dried, you can re-lace them with your cleaner laces.

These instructions are for leather trainer styles, just like ours. However, if you’re wondering how to make trainers clean when they’re made with fabrics or suedes, you will need to find alternative cleaning instructions as these materials require different techniques.  

How to Wear Trainers 

The main benefit of sneakers is that they can be styled with almost anything – athleisure looks, but also summer dresses, shorts, skirts, leggings and more. This also means you can wear ladies’ trendy trainers all year round. All you need is the right outfit to match. That’s where we can help. We’ve got advice on how to wear trainers all year round.  


When the first blossoms are starting to appear, but there’s still a chill in the air. This season isn’t quite time to pack away your winter accessories, but you might be wearing one less layer when out and about. Around this time of year, we love swapping for a lighter jacket that pairs easily with denim jeans or warm leggings, a scarf and of course, our favourite trainers.  


The sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Whether you’re the type of person who loves a floral summer dress, or you can’t resist a wardrobe full of shorts, anything goes with a great pair of ladies’ trendy trainers.  


Leaves are changing colours and falling from the trees. The air is starting to feel a little colder. We're thinking about extra layers and leather boots. But even then, we can never resist the comfort or versatility of stylish trainers on some days. High-tops or low-tops, any of them will do when they’re laced up with denim jeans, dresses and tights, or cosy leggings.  


Windows are frosty and snow is falling. We’re sipping on some sweet hot chocolate and are starting to feel very festive. Have we set the scene? Now is the time to wrap up warm. Jeans, jumpers, scarves and a thick winter coat. You just want comfort, and you know you’ll aways find it in your favourite sneakers. That's where the best woman’s trainers come in – these will suit even the coldest seasons.  


After reading this handy guide, you’ll be an expert at picking out a brand-new pair of the best fashion trainers. You’ll want them to be versatile, beautifully crafted and made to last. Our Radley London women's designer trainers tick all those boxes.  

For our latest Spring Footwear and Autumn Boots Collections, head over to Radley Stories. And if you want to find out more about the leathers we use, take a look at our handy Where Does Leather Come From guide.