this thing’s incredible

These French Sneakers Are Like Converses, Only Cheaper and More Flattering

The author in her charmingly filthy white Bensimons. Photo: Alice Gregory

Efficiency comes in many forms. Drafting emails on the train, listening to podcasts at 2.5-times speed. I like to think I save a cumulatively significant amount of time by refusing to wear shoes I have to tie. Maybe a solid ten minutes per week, which I then get to invest in all sorts of mind-stimulating, soul-restoring activities like texting parody magazine headlines to my friends or searching eBay for novel display cases for tiny chunks of the Berlin Wall.

Anyway, shoes that you don’t have to tie. Tricky if you’re also a person who walks a lot. Dansko clogs are good for long distances but smell horrible almost immediately; men’s espadrilles work for short distances but might as well be thrown in the bin if it rains. Sneakers are the obvious solution, but not for a person unwilling to waste any of her life hunched over clawing at dirty string. It’s why I wear Bensimons. Twenty-two pounds with a (very important) flatteringly low vamp, FRENCH, and floppy enough that you can just shove your foot into them and flip up the heel. They do in fact have laces, but you can keep them loosely tied enough that your feet can easily slip in and out without bothering to undo them. Like all the best products, Bensimons look like they were issued by a toppled authoritarian government.

The brand has a billion stores in Paris, but they’re also available on Amazon, a fact I unfortunately learned only after filling up half a suitcase with them. They come in beaucoup colors, all tres jolie. I’m partial to white, which get charmingly filthy very fast, but I also have them in black and a coral/clown color that I’m still unsure about. You have to be careful and only buy the ‘Lacet’ model. There’s one that looks dangerously similar but have secret elastic tabs along the tongue — avoid!

More Strat-approved white sneakers

‘I grew up in a sports-fanatic family; always playing, watching, talking about sports and sports culture,’ says Michelle Silva, co-founder of the Con.cept. When it comes to sneakers for Silva, she tells us, ‘Comfort is the way to go. You can’t move slow on these New York streets, or waste time in uncomfortable shoes.’ And while she says she chooses her sneakers based on her mood and whatever is inspiring her that day, her go-to pair is a classic Air Force 1. “Their versatility makes it a staple piece in my closet,” Silva says. “Always keep a clean pair in your closet.”

In the words of our always opinionated columnist Chris Black, “The only all-white sneakers I genuinely stand behind are Vans. The perfect summer shoe. Understated, durable, eternally cool.” We might disagree on whether they’re the only shoe, but Vans are pretty great.

Artist Shantell Martin told us that while she’s a bit biased after designing her own line of sneakers for Puma, she still turns to Converse for her ‘staple go-to sneaker’: A pair of canvas monochrome Chuck Taylor high-tops. ‘They’re easy to travel with, super-comfy, and the perfect work sneakers for when I’m doing big jobs outside.’ (Converse high-tops are a favorite of many a Strategist editor and writer, as well.)

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These French Sneakers Are Like Converses But More Flattering