Blame it on Chuck Taylor – the classic white high top is a cherished American wardrobe staple. Most people get their first pair in grade school and never quite let the style go. The design may mature but the need for a casual and comfortable alternative to everyday black remains the same. Lately high end designers have been experimenting in this decidedly mass market territory with luxe results. From Pierre Hardy’s coveted crayola box Coloramas to Lanvin’s metallic lace ups everyone has jumped on the sneaker bandwagon.

Of course with all the bells and whistles designer kicks can be a bit conspicuous. The originals didn’t shout – they whispered, and their longevity is owed in part to their low-profile charm. One designer who understands this discreet magic is Kris Van Assche. His mutated high tops with their retro velcro straps and aerodynamic look blended seamlessly into his S/S 09 menswear collection. Now the striking footwear is making its way into stores and closets.