Sneakers vs. Shoes: What Are the Differences?

Sneakers Shoes

Last updated on November 28th, 2023 at 07:17 pm

The current market for sneakers is worth $79 billion. Even more importantly, though, it’s a symbol of culture and society in the 21st century. It shows that we value comfort and ease over other considerations, which has led to the development of fashionable sneakers.

But what is the difference between sneakers vs. shoes? That’s what we’re going to dive into here today. Read on for some facts about sneakers that differentiate them from other kinds of footwear.

The Basics of Sneakers vs. Shoes

“Shoe” is a general term referring to any type of footwear. Shoes have been evolving forever because they keep the feet warm, protect them from outdoor elements, and stop ankle and arch pain. Today they’re primarily made from synthetic cloth, plastic, rubber, and industrial adhesives.

Professional flats, heels, and loafers are all shoes. Pumps and high-tops for casual fun are shoes. Sneakers, like all of these other footwear types, are also a subcategory within the larger concept of “shoes.” This is similar to how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares. All sneakers are shoes but all shoes are not sneakers.

Sneakers are also called gym shoes, running shoes, and tennis shoes depending on where in the US you are. This is because they’re made for athletic and active applications. They first came onto the scene in 1892 because of the higher demand for comfort during exercise.

What Makes a Sneaker?

The main characteristic of a sneaker is that it’s entirely made up of rubber soles. Other materials like plastic and cloth are not used on the sole of a sneaker. The soles of a sneaker are long-lasting, comfortable, and make a squeaky noise when you run on a gym floor.

They are usually paired with other materials that aren’t on the sole. Synthetic materials, soft fabrics, hard and durable plastics, and breathable mesh will cover the rest of the foot. Most people refer to all kinds of rubber shoes as sneakers, but this isn’t true. Other rubber-soled shoes will use multiple sole materials and will not give you the same level of comfort during activities like running and sports.

Comfort and Cushioning

Yeezy Foam Runners have added comfort because of foam padding and a softer sole. People are constantly looking for new ways to make sneakers easier to run around in! Regardless of your sneaker type, comfort and cushioning is one of the core things that differentiates a sneaker from a shoe.

Shoes can be heavier and uncomfortable and make moving painful if you do too much of it. Of course, comfortable shoes do exist, but they’re expensive, few, and far between. Sneakers are inherently lighter than other shoes because they use lightweight and breathable materials.

They’re specifically designed for active individuals who do a lot of walking and standing. They also keep your feet cool during exercise to stop sweat-related discomfort.


Sneakers, unlike shoes, aren’t made for all occasions. You generally can’t wear them to work unless you have an extremely beautiful and expensive pair. You also can’t wear them to formal events like cocktail parties and weddings.

Sneakers are different from other shoes in that they’re purely casual. They’re perfect for running and other active pursuits, but they also are made for meetups with friends and everyday errands. 


While it isn’t a visible facet of a sneaker, the purpose of a footwear’s design is a core part of separating sneakers from other shoes. Shoes are made for a wide range of purposes including fashion, professionalism, class symbolism, and comfort. Sneakers specifically are made for walking, running, and training.

They are plain athletic shoes made specifically for athletics. Because of this purpose, they are comfortable and flexible. If a shoe was designed with physical exertion in mind, it is likely a sneaker.

Styling Your Sneakers

One of the best things about sneakers (as opposed to shoes) is that they’re super easy to style. A nice pair of sleek white, black, or gray sneakers goes with literally everything. This includes shorts and dresses assuming that you choose the right pair!

Colorful sneakers are also available in a huge number of bright colors. These are awesome when adding a pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit. Pair bright yellow or pink Yeezys with an all-black outfit and a scrunchie or watch in the same hue as the shoe.

Styling sneakers for everyday wear is also possible with short jeans. If they’re cuffed and have some ankle exposure, this is going to make your tennis shoes stand out as much as possible. You can put a bracelet or cuff around your ankle for an even more intense fashion statement and some additional eye-grabbing fun.

No matter how you choose to spruce up your sneakers, it’s important to make sure that you have the right ones. Comfortable high-quality options with arch support are essential, but you also need to pick something you like looking at. After all, fashion is a form of expression, and you’ll be boasting your sneakers in tons of situations.

More About 2022 Footwear and Fashion

While the sneakers vs. shoes distinction may sound unimportant, it’s critical to keep in mind when heading to a shoe store. After all, buying sneakers rather than other shoes is essential when you’re active and sporty.

Check out the “lifestyle” tab on our home page for more information about the best fashion trends coming your way this year. You may also be interested in the “travel” section of our site if you’re looking for some cool places to explore in your new comfy sneakers.

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