What is a mesh? For those who don’t know, it’s like a barrier that’s made of connected strands of fiber or other flexible materials. Mesh is woven, knotted or knit with evenly spaced holes.
Many popular brands offer a range of shoes with mesh technologies, whether it be in the running, hiking or sneakers category. A number of mesh sneakers, which are flexible, durable, lightweight and breathable, are popular from brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Vans.
Most popular mesh sneakers by brand
Below are some of the most popular mesh sneakers that sneakerheads are raving about and have been copping a pair for themselves:
Flexible and diamond-patterned mesh uppers for maximum comfort and breathability.
Injected unit sole for lightweight cushioning.
Cushioned and textile insole for extra comfort.
Lightly padded collar and tongue for a snug fit.
Midsole that’s durable enough to perform as an outsole.
EVA outsole with flex grooves and waffle tread for lightweight traction and motion.
Lace-up closure for a firm fit.
The midsole and outsole combination gets rid of extra weight.
Nike Air Max Plus
Initially released in 1998, the Air Max Plus instantly became a favorite for runners, thanks to its up-to-date Tuned Air cushioning technology and lightweight construction. A major bonus is the shoes’ design which transcended its performance features.
This tech-filled sneaker’s ultra-bold design, gradient-colored upper, wavy design elements, and large Air bubbles instantly appealed to sneaker fanatics and have become their casual footwear of choice.
Important details about the Nike Air Max Plus:
Stretchable mesh upper contributes to the sneaker’s breathability.
Innovative cushioning system for extra comfort.
Tuned Air technology in the heel gives extremely tuned cushioning, support and stability.
Injected TPU ribs provide additional durability and support.
Air Max’s noticeable units in the heel and forefoot reduce impact.
Waffle-patterned rubber outsoles offer great traction and durability.
Nike React Element 55
Drawing inspiration from the React family, Nike’s React Element 55 pushes into the future and brings style and practicality to the table. It is the embodiment of a casual and comfortable pair of shoes. Considered as one of the sleekest runners from the Swoosh brand, this will surely be a new go-to with its balanced blend of forward-looking innovation and classic style.
Important details about the Nike React Element 55:
Flexible, high-sheen upper with neoprene segments.
Innovative Nike Reach midsole cushioning for lightweight comfort and shock absorption.
TPU heel clips for security.
Pull tabs that offer easy on and off.
Soft sockliner and rubber nodules for extra grip.
Curving rubber outsole pods for a futuristic look.
Coordinated lacing system for a secure fit.
Adidas Nite Jogger
Influenced by the original 1979 Nite Jogger, the latest one has been completely redesigned after separated by 40 years of innovation. The Three Stripes’ updated version of the Nite Jogger is a perfect mixture of fresh design and modern technology.
Important details about the Adidas Nite Jogger:
Mesh and nylon ripstop upper presented with suede overlays.
Reflective details for nighttime visibility.
Full-length, Ultra-light Boost midsole for an all-day comfortable stride.
OrthoLite sock liners and insole for additional support.
Lace-up closure for a better fit.
An outsole that’s abrasion-resistant.
The Adidas Ozweego, or also known as the ‘Weegz”, is considered as an Adidas staple in the late ‘90s because of its chunky aesthetics and aggressive design that symbolized sports style. With a lot of buzz on chunky footwear, Adidas has redefined the Ozweego and gave it a makeover to keep up with the contemporary trends. It’s a blend of a retro variation with a futuristic look.
Important details about the Adidas Ozweego:
Mesh and suede upper for stretchability and breathability.
Chunky but lightweight EVA midsole.
AdiPrene forefoot and heel cushioning.
Lace-up closure for an ensured fit.
Eyestay translucent support tube to equalize pressure distribution over the foot.
Wear-resistant rubber outsoles.
Adidas U_Path Run
This Adidas U_Path Run is inspired by the classic ‘70s era running shoes. The sneaker is a combination of Adidas’ signature retro running shoes with a dash of modern aesthetics. With its old-fashioned vibe, modern construction and the Three Stripes’ branding, the kicks will keep you in athletic style and casual comfort anywhere you go all day.
Important details about the Adidas U_Path Run:
Breathable mesh knit upper for cooling airflow.
Bungee heel overlay for added support.
EVA midsole for cushioning.
OrthoLite sockliner for all-day wearability.
TPU lacing system inspired by ‘70s D-ring design.
Tough rubber outsoles for superior traction.
New Balance 997
The 997 is part of the New Balances’ 99X series which was introduced in 1982. This particular sneaker has been innovated through the years to improve the shoe’s unparalleled technology. In terms of comfort and style, these kicks give an honest-to-goodness balance.
Important details about the New Balance 997:
Suede and mesh upper finish.
Combination of ENCAP and C-CAP cushioning technologies in one single midsole for maximum durability.
Tough polyurethane rim that is tear-resistant.
Rubber outsole provides good grip and traction.
New Balance 997H
New Balance’s 997H is the contemporary reinterpretation of the 997 and is considered as the next-generation sidekick to its predecessor. Through decades of cultural movements, these heritage-inspired kicks showcase the ‘90s but continue to go beyond the basic trends to offer a bold upgrade and brand new style.
Important details about New Balance 997H:
Reinforced suede and mesh upper for that snug fit.
ENCAP cushioning for all-day comfort.
Mesh inserts that allow cool airflow.
Polyurethane rim for support.
Front lace feature to adapt to the fit.
Ridged rubber outsole that improves traction.
Vans Ultrarange Rapidweld
Born out of Vans’ team of top surfers’ need for a versatile athletic shoe, the UltraRange Rapidweld is the answer that will provide them comfort for their long journeys of traveling and surfing around the world. Vans takes a more technical approach to this new addition to the family that is decidedly athlete-inspired.
Important details about the Vans Ultrarange Rapidweld:
Synthetic and mesh upper with Rapidweld details offers a breathable feel.
UltraCush Lite foam midsole gives enhanced comfort and durability.
LuxLiners sock-fit construction with seamless interiors reduces weight and rubbing.
Pro Vulc Lite construction and water-based inks and glues.
Long-lasting rubber reverse waffle lug outsoles for grip.
Mesh versus Leather
Before the invention of knit technologies, mesh and leather materials are the go-to-choices of designers. Mesh and leather are actually two of the best and most popular upper materials used for sneakers. However, there are also significant differences between these two. Here’s a list of some of the contrasting characteristics that set apart mesh from leather:
Mesh and leather have their own breathable properties. But leather can get very hot and is not as breathable as mesh is. Although leather is the better choice against smelly feet odor, mesh is undoubtedly the better choice for its ventilation and moisture-wicking properties. Also, it is much better to use during the warmer months.
When it comes to being comfortable in your own shoes, mesh upper is definitely softer than leather and gives your feet more room to stretch out. Leather is a heavier and tougher material than mesh which makes mesh a more lightweight and comfortable option.
Generally, leather is much more expensive compared to any other fabric or other man-made shoe materials. Yes, leather may seem to be of higher quality but the actuality isn’t always matching the appearance. That’s why purchasers tend to pick mesh for its affordable yet extremely durable quality.
While it’s true that leather uppers can take a lot more tension than mesh uppers, it actually shows creases earlier than mesh. It can look beat after a couple of wears which makes your sneaker look really old. Mesh uppers may not be built for longevity but it is durable enough to last for a couple of years and will not show any traces of creases.
Waterproofing in sneakers is an important quality that a shoe material should have which grants mesh uppers a number of points ahead than leather. Once leather shoes get wet, they stay wet for quite some time.
When left untreated, they can become vulnerable to water absorption and damage. On the other hand, it may be true that mesh uppers don’t have that much water resistance but they dry faster and are safer to get wet.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who discovered mesh and when did it start?
It was discovered by Lewis Haslam in 1888, was popularized by Adidas in the 1980s and has been considered by several shoe designers as the go-to material for designing shoes.
What are the characteristics of mesh uppers that make it stand out?
Breathable- These uppers breathe super well and can make your feet feel breezy as ever.
Wicker of moisture- Yes, mesh is like the John Wick of shoe uppers. Mesh just wicks away all those unwanted moisture that gives your feet that icky feel.
Lightweight champion- There’s nothing lighter weight than the mesh upper. It’s one of the mesh upper’s premium features.
Cost-effective- If one doesn’t want to spend too much but still wants to buy durable shoes, the answer is in the mesh.
Water-resistant- This material isn’t afraid of the water and just repels it with all its might.
Where to buy these sneakers?
A number of brands offer the sneakers’ availability in their physical stores worldwide and in their online sites, too. There are also many retailers and other online stores like Zappos, Amazon, eBay, JD Sports, and a lot more from which these shoes can be purchased.
How to keep mesh sneakers in quality condition?
Mesh sneakers will always need proper care in order to keep them in good shape. Here are some ways to take care of your mesh sneakers:
Avoid the washing machine. Never wash sneakers in there.
Always dry your feet before wearing sneakers to keep away from getting shoes moldy and to avoid health issues that damp feet may bring.
Let these kicks have some air and never store them in closed containers. They require ample airflow to breathe.
Overwearing is also a big no. Continuously wearing the same shoes over and over again can lead to irreversible damage.
Keep them away from direct heat and sunlight. Air drying is always the best option.
How to wear mesh sneakers in style?
Ever since mesh sneakers have been introduced, people have been trying to pair them up with anything in their wardrobe. We have a handful of suggestions to add to your outfit ideas with your super breezy mesh kicks and here are some of them:
Keep away from loose-fitting types of denim. Choose slim Chinos or the elastic cuff variations instead.
Yoga pants and skinny jeans are also great matches with mesh kicks. They look better than pairing the shoes with loose bottoms.
Never ever tuck shirts into denim with these sneakers. This is a wrong move plus this will never look good with your mesh kicks on.
Keep it sporty and casual with t-shirts or plain tops. Throw on some plain white tees or some good old plain-colored sweaters or hoodies.
Try on a sporty look to compliment the shoes. You can never go wrong with a sporty outfit paired with your favorite go-to mesh sneaker.
It’s always a perfect idea to go for smart or casual wear.
How to clean these mesh kicks?
Mesh uppers are kind of tough to clean. They require little care along with multiple cleaning sessions to remove those cringe-worthy stains on them. Here are some ways to make them squeaky clean:
One important cleaning material is the microfiber towel. Wrap it around two fingers and scratch carefully at the mesh to be able to get rid of dirt.
When using shoe cleaners, dip a brush or towel in the solution and move it in a circular motion over the stain on the mesh upper.
Scrub and wipe until the dirt or stain is removed. Just be patient since this could take a few attempts to get rid of the dirt or stain completely.
For homemade shoe cleaners, baking soda and vinegar are effective in cleaning those dirt-filled mesh sneakers.
Mix one part baking soda and one part vinegar and use a dry brush to clean the dirty parts. Let it sit on those spots for about 15 minutes.
Gently scrub the spot for a minute or two and then wipe clean with a wet rag.
Then, just let the shoe air dry. Do not place them under direct heat.
15 best mesh sneakers
Pharrell Williams Tennis Hu
Vans UltraRange Rapidweld
Nike Air Max 200
Adidas Deerupt Runner
Adidas Lite Racer Adapt
Adidas U_Path Run
Adidas Nite Jogger
Asics Gel Kayano 5 OG
New Balance 997H
New Balance 515
Nike Roshe One
Nike Air Max Axis
Danny is a sneakerhead turned sneaker industry expert that believes a good outfit begins from the feet up. His aunt currently isn't speaking to him for wearing a pair of kicks at his cousin's wedding. He spends most of his time trying to keep on top of the latest releases, hitting up his contacts and doing what needs to be done to secure his next pickup. Danny has been featured in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The Irish Times, Footwear News and the like.
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