- For many of the Valley’s elite, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power and nonchalance, creativity and exclusivity.
- With help from the team at the sneaker marketplace Flight Club, Business Insider compiled some of the most fashionable, expensive, and downright wild sneakers worn by tech founders and CEOs.
The inhabitants of Silicon Valley are not exactly known for haute couture.
It’s a land where jeans, T-shirts, and hoodies reign supreme, and where sneakers are the footwear of choice.
But don’t let the pedestrian fashion item fool you. These sneakers can be as rare and as status-defining as the fine watches adorning the wrists of Wall Street bankers or the designer handbags clutched by elite art dealers.
For many of the Valley’s elite, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power and nonchalance, creativity and exclusivity.
With help from the team at the sneaker marketplace Flight Club, Business Insider compiled some of the most fashionable, expensive, and downright wild sneakers worn by tech founders and CEOs. The Flight Club team helped confirm the brands and styles and provided expert commentary and analysis.
We did our best to find photos of female tech executives wearing sneakers, but our search didn’t yield many results. Women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer wore low heels, flats, or loafers, which says something about how much freedom women have to dress down in the corporate world.
If you dream of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, lacing up a pair of these sneakers probably won’t get you very far. But at least you’ll look the part.
Check it out:
Mark Zuckerberg: Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 in Wolf Grey
Since Nike’s Flyknit franchise was introduced in 2012, Flight Club says it has seen resale values in “the hundreds, and some well over a thousand.”
The Wolf Grey sneakers favored by Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, aren’t currently sold in stores, but you might be able to find them on eBay.
Price: A similar pair costs $110
Here’s the same shoe in Concord/Total Crimson/Total Orange.Nike
Satya Nadella: Lanvin Suede & Patent Leather Low-Top Sneaker
When the Microsoft CEO took the helm in 2014, it quickly became clear he was stylish. So it’s no surprise he opts for a more fashion-forward take on sneakers, with a pair from the French high-end brand Lanvin. Even sneaker lovers on Reddit have inquired about Nadella’s kicks.
Here’s a close-up of the Lanvin sneaker.Lanvin
Sundar Pichai: Lanvin Men’s Cap-Toe Leather Low-Top Sneaker
Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
Nadella isn’t the only one who likes Lanvin. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wears them too, but he prefers an all-black version.
The all-black Lanvin low-top favored by Google’s CEO.Lanvin
Larry Page: Lanvin Low-Top Sneaker with Contrast Heel
Perhaps Pichai is giving fashion tips to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Page also favors Lanvin sneakers, though his are a bit harder to find — the style is currently sold out.
Price: about $300
The “contrast heel” Lanvin low-tops.Lanvin
Jack Dorsey and Susan Wojcicki: Rick Owens Island Dunks and New Balance W890v4
Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, is known for having a more advanced fashion sense than some of his Silicon Valley peers, so his sneakers by the avant-garde designer Rick Owens certainly fit his style. Owens’ shoe line is something of a cult favorite in the sneaker world, but he has also collaborated with Adidas on a line.
Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, opted for a bright pair of New Balance running shoes to complement her athleisure look at Sun Valley in 2015.
Price: $35, down from $110
Rick Owens Island Dunks.Rick Owens
New Balance Women’s W890v4 Neutral Light Running Shoe.New Balance
Sam Altman: Puma Blaze of Glory
The president of Y Combinator is known for his casual style and penchant for wearing sneakers. In fact, he was once kicked out of The Ritz London for wearing his Puma Blaze of Glory shoes.
Here’s what Flight Club says about the vibrant sneakers:
“The Puma Blaze of Glory was a retro model from the ’90s that Puma has brought back with a vengeance. We’ve seen this model be reinvented time and time again over the last three to four years. [Puma has] sustained popularity with this model by collaborating with streetwear brands such as Kith, Alife, Stampd, Staple, Bape, Sneaker Freaker, etc. The model has been a popular sell through among a few ‘sneaker heads’ buying the hyped collabs.”
Price: These shoes can resell for $257 to $325, according to Flight Club.
The Puma Blaze of Glory has a vibrant hue.Puma
Tim Cook: Nike Roshe Two Flyknit
Cook, Apple’s CEO, is the lead independent director of Nike’s board, so it makes sense he’d choose Nike kicks.
“For Nike, the Roshe run has performed really well over the years,” the team at Flight Club says. “It was first spotted overseas in Asia, and then it hit the States in 2012. We have witnessed the Roshe run sell by the hundreds in the secondary market ranging from $109 to $300, depending on popularity. The demand for this model and return upon investment are undeniable.”
Flight Club says the most popular colors for Roshe Runs are Triple Red, Calypso, GPX Tiger Camo Pack, Yeezy, Rainbow, and Santa Monica Pier.
Price: The original pair is sold out, but you can get V2 for $50, down from $130
Nike’s Roshe 2 Flyknit, a super-fly choice.Nike
Here’s Cook in another pair of Nike shoes.
Cook was spotted in Nike Roshe Ones at the grand opening of an Apple Store in Palo Alto, California.
MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos: Ash Bowie Wedge Sneaker and Converse Jack Purcell Low-Top
Novelist MacKenzie Bezos favors wedge-heeled sneakers by Ash, while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wears more affordable Jack Purcells.
The Jack Purcell was designed in 1935 as a badminton shoe — Purcell himself was a Canadian badminton player — but Converse bought it in the 1970s.
“Converse has stepped up the model by doing cool collabs with men’s contemporary brands like rock designer John Varvatos, Neighborhood, WTAPS, and Comme des Garcons. Also, let’s not forget the annual Missoni collab,” Flight Club says. “For those interested in finding rare, dope spins on this model, we’ve seen the best executions of these models come out of Japan.”
Price: about $210 (MacKenzie), $65 (Jeff)
Ash Bowie Wedge Sneaker.Ash/Neiman Marcus
Converse Jack Purcells.Jack Purcell
Daniel Ek: Nike Air Force 1 ’07
Ek, the CEO of Spotify, has “one of the most iconic shoes” to come out of Nike, according to Flight Club. Nike introduced the Air Force 1 in 1982 and sold an estimated 12 million pairs during the shoe’s peak in 2005.
“Over the years, the model has become iconic and part of the very fabric that makes Nike so great,” Flight Club says. “The Air Force franchise has left a historic impression not only on sports culture, but it has been a hands-down pop-culture staple. Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Air Forces have been a staple in streetwear fashion — especially the beloved white-on-whites.”
While Ek sports the basic version of the shoe, Flight Club says it has seen high-end and rare versions of Air Force 1s “flip for the thousands.”
Nike Air Force 1 ’07.Nike
Ek is clearly a fan of white sneakers — he has also been spotted in a pair of Adidas’ best-known shoes.
Ek is wearing Adidas Superstar Shoes.
Evan Spiegel: Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers
Spiegel, CEO of Snap, is a longtime fan of the high-end sneaker brand Common Projects. In fact, he told GQ he has worn the brand since high school. But they don’t come cheap — an average pair of Common Projects costs $400, according to Flight Club.
“The all-white pair of Achilles is the most popular colorway for the brand,” Flight Club says. “Some may ask why would you pay so much for such a simple shoe. The answer: craftsmanship. These shoes are hand-stitched and usually made out of Italian leather. Also, they look great with your everyday look.”
Common Projects Original Achilles.Common Projects
Kevin Systrom: Lanvin Classic Leather & Suede High-Top Sneakers
Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, is a yet another tech CEO who favors Lanvin shoes.
“I’m a sucker for Lanvin sneakers because I have big feet and they fit me really well,” Systrom told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s hard to find a day where I’m not wearing them.”
Here’s the same shoe in black.Lanvin
… but he wore this pair of “cloud walkers” by the high-end-shoe designer Christian Louboutin in 2013, and he has had several other cloud-themed shoes made for events like Dreamforce, Salesforce’s huge customer conference …
Source: Twitter, Business Insider
… like this custom pair, also by Louboutin. Here’s the signature red Louboutin sole.
Men’s Louboutin high-tops can cost between about $950 and $1,995, although a custom pair would likely have cost more.
Aaron Levie: Asics Onitsuka Tiger California 78 OG
The Box CEO is known for always wearing sneakers — he doesn’t own a pair of dress shoes, according to The New York Times.
“Sneakers help me walk faster,” Levie told The Times. “Plus, it reminds me that we’re fighting for the end user — the consumer — because they wear sneakers, too!”
Levie favors Asics shoes, like these Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. Onitsuka Tiger is an Asics label that focuses on a more vintage style, according to Flight Club. While Levie’s blue and orange pair is sold out, other colors are still available.
Price: You can’t buy Levie’s exact pair, but a similar shoe will cost you $90
Asics Onitsuka Tiger California 78 OG.Asics
Brian Chesky: Gucci Ace Leather Low-Top Sneaker
Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, is another stylish exec, and he often chooses unique — and expensive — footwear. The Ace sneaker has been a popular model for Gucci, and the brand has recently seen a resurgence in the fashion world, according to Flight Club.
“The last and current season has been trending on the blogs and among celebrities,” Flight Club says.
Gucci Ace Leather Low-Top Sneaker.Gucci
Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk
It turns out all three Airbnb founders have a strong sneaker game. At Airbnb Open in 2016, Chesky, left, wore a SeaVees Maslon Desert Boot Wintertide; Gebbia, center, wore a Reebok Pump Omni Lite; and Blecharczyk, right, wore a Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6.
Prices, from left: $108; between $90 and $180; $75
SeaVees Maslon Desert Boot Wintertide.SeaVees
Here’s the Reebok Pump Omni Lite in black/white/varsity orange.Reebok
Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6.Nike
Sean Rad: Saint Laurent Signature Court Classic SL/18H Fringed Sneaker
Rad, the founder of Tinder, has high-end taste when it comes to shoes. His fringed high-tops are sold out on Saint Laurent’s site, but you can likely still find them on eBay or buy the gray version on Spring.
Price: A similar pair is $385 on eBay
Here’s the Saint Laurent Signature Court Classic in brown.Saint Laurent
Elon Musk: Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG
It’s hard to be sure, but Business Insider and Flight Club think Musk, the Tesla CEO, is wearing the Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG, a shoe created by the renowned design trio of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker. These shoes are hard to find — not to mention expensive.
Price: A similar pair costs $1,540 on Flight Club
The Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG isn’t easy to find.Nike
Sergey Brin: Vibram FiveFingers Classic
While he doesn’t exactly have stylish taste in shoes, Brin — a Google cofounder and the president of its parent company, Alphabet — certainly has unusual taste. Brin has been known to wear Crocs for public appearances, but his most serious fashion faux pas may be his preference for Vibram FiveFingers, the wacky, sock-like shoes that have space for each of your toes.
The Vibram FiveFingers Classic.Vibram