Whether or not you're a Balenciaga fan, the luxury house has been responsible for some of the industry's wildest, weirdest, most divisive sneakers of all time.
Under the creative direction of Demna Gvasalia and backed by the powerhouse marketing of celebrity royalty like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Bieber, Balenciaga's footwear is just as culturally relevant as its apparel.
Often riffing off and exaggerating contemporary sneaker trends, its footwear is often ridiculed for cloning classic running and hike silhouettes, yet the hype continues to overshadow the voices of detractors.
Original or not, Balenciaga's sneaker line-up is due its flowers, and we've cherry-picked and ranked the best (and worst) that the house has had to offer.
1. Track 2
I'll best honest, I absolutely hated Track 2s when they were first released. At the time, I wasn't particularly keen on high-end sneakers at all, preferring to religiously conform to Air Max and Jordans. Two years later, I picked up a pair and now, I'd happily rank the silhouette amongst my all-time favorites like the AM90 and AJ4.
Even though we're now on our third generation of Track sneakers, none have come quite close to the 2s, making the top spot theirs.
2. Runner Trainer
Although something feels a little off about putting such a new sneaker this close to the top, I think it's well deserved. We've all heard the ASICS jokes and comparisons where the Runner Trainer is concerned, and sure, there's no denying the similarities, but that doesn't detract from how good this silhouette is.
There are plenty of colorways on the market, but there's no doubting that the shoe looks best in its retro runner-inspired and tonal renders.
The Triple S – a sneaker that we love to hate. It's impossible to talk about Balenciaga sneakers without giving this model the flowers that it deserves. When the chunky shoe trend was operating at full force, this was the silhouette that pulled me over the edge. It was love at first sight.
Much like the Speed (Sock Runner), the Triple S was adopted by everyone, everywhere, and before long, the hype had hit its peak and began to taper off.
4. Croc Boot
Of all of the crazy Balenciaga Croc creations, the boot is easily the best. Adopted by Ye as part of the DONDA (and DONDA 2) listening party uniform, the boot quickly rose to popularity. Although I'm yet to see a pair in the wild for myself, I wouldn't be mad if someone were to treat me to a pair.
Sure, this is a pretty marmite silhouette, but are they really all that strange? It's pretty hard to go a day without seeing a pair of Crocs or Merrell Hydro Mocs out and about, so why not a boot version?
5. Track Sandal
When you see me wearing these with white socks picnicking this summer, mind your business.
WILD is the best word to describe the Defender. If you ever needed verification that Demna has no chill, look no further. It's a yes from me...driving in a pair of these would be a nightmare, though.
The IKEA flatpack instructions for this silhouette reads – attach tire to Runner.
7. Track 3
Spring/Summer 2022 saw the arrival of a new member of the Track family in the Track 3. The third iteration of the popular model is significantly more stripped back than its predecessors, removing a large majority of the layered details across the midfoot, and focusing on the overall shape of the sneaker and its iconic distressed sole.
I'm not super keen on the colorways that have been presented so far, but there's not a lot to hate here.
Would I wear these? No. Can I appreciate the design? Absolutely.
Although the upper doesn't introduce anything particularly new design-wise, the X-Pander's suspended heel design demands attention. Somewhere between an Olympic sprinter on the starting blocks and RoboCop; you could tell me these were designed by the costume department on a Neill Blomkamp movie and I wouldn't doubt it.
9. Track Hike
The Track Hike is what happens when you take the good parts of the original Track silhouette and turn it into a high-top boot. Although you'd probably want to skip wearing these on your next hike up the trails (I'd instead recommend Adsum x Merrells MOAB 2), you could at least pretend to look the part while you browse Selfridges.
Even though I'm a self-confessed hater of the original Track sneaker, we'd never have the Track 2 without it, and for that alone, it's deserving of praise.
These are essentially the Track 2 with its heavy-duty sole removed, leaving behind an upper that looks like a dystopian take on the Lonsdale Benn Low. That probably isn't a good thing, but throw that chunky sole back onto these and you've got a beautiful sneaker.
12. Speed 2.0
The infamous Sock Runner. I think it's fair to say that this slip-on sneaker had the world in a chokehold for a while, leading to some of the most outrageous fakes you'll ever find of a shoe (maybe second only to the YEEZY 350).
Personally, I'm no fan, but I can (somewhat) understand what made them so popular.
13. Speed 2.0 Lace-Up
Somehow, adding laces made this silhouette worse. Skip.
14. Plarform Crocs
This is another case of Balenciaga just having fun. Sure, they're outrageous, but can you really be mad at them for doing something new with Crocs?
If you're one of the few people that thinks, or knows, that they'd be able to walk in these, I salute you. As someone that's broken their ankle before, I think the Triple S is stacked more than enough.
There's not too much to be said about the Phantom. If you're looking for a pretty basic-looking runner with the Balenciaga label attached, it does the job – but toe-to-toe against the brand's other runners? There's no chance it'd take a top spot.
16. Crocs Madame 80mm
You have two choices – wear your heels and take a pair of crocs in your bag for when your feet get tired or wear these. Spoiler alert: option one.
17. Race Runner
These are the first pair of Balenciaga sneakers that I ever saw, and at the time, I probably thought they were pretty cool. Unfortunately, they're painfully basic and remind me why it took so long for me to acclimatize to luxury sneakers.
If anything, the streamlined Race Runners now serve as a testament to how far forward Demna has brought the brand – especially where its no f*cks given attitude towards sneakers is concerned.