Double-Take: Common Projects Achilles

The sneaker market is flooded with high-tops, embellished uppers, and bright colors. Although I do have a couple pairs of statement-making kicks, there’s nothing better than a no-frills white or black sneaker. Every closet needs at least one pair, and the brand that immediately comes to my mind, for minimalists and fashionistas alike, is Common Projects. Their Achilles sneaker gained cult status thanks to the sleek design and fine Italian construction.

Common Projects was started by Peter Poopat and Flavio Girolami. They introduced their Original Achilles Low model for men in 2004. (Can you believe that was 14 years ago?) The sneakers remained relatively low-key until fashion publications began covering streetwear and menswear. The Achilles gained tremendous traction after being spotted on the feet of countless influencers and celebrities.The women’s line was launched 5 years after the company began making men’s sneakers, and although it was hard to break into at first, business has definitely been successful. The original sneaker has a timeless design: sleek and simple construction, a refined profile, and no logo. Completely understated, yet still capable of making a statement to those who are in the know. Many of us balk at the $400 price tag, but luckily there are some excellent double-takes out there!

Although still pretty pricey, Koio has a beautiful line of minimalist sneakers for a fraction of the cost of the Achilles. Also made in Italy, Koio sneakers are crafted from calf-skin leathers with hand-finished details. They often do collaborations for limited edition styles as well.

But if that pair is still too much for your budget, look for the Kenneth Cole Kam. These super popular sneakers are made in a variety of materials for both men and women. In the same way that Common Projects doesn’t brand their sneakers except with a small embossed serial number, the Kenneth Cole Kam has no identifiable markings other than a small golden strip along the back.

While you can find the current season’s line on their website, your best bet is to check out the many options on Amazon—they’ve got everything from white leather, to suede, to glitter and metallics. The price varies depending on size and material, but any of the Kam sneaker styles will cost you much less than a pair of Achilles. They are also incredibly comfortable due to the Techni-Cole technology they implement. Full disclosure: I have two pairs of Kams and only one pair of Achilles (which I got on sale for a super low price)—can you guess which ones I prefer?