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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’ve seen the many Nike, Reebok, and New Balance shoes lined up on walls upon walls at the various shoe retailers in outlets and malls everywhere.

However, the shoe business is very diverse. There are a TON of independent shoe brands worth checking out on your next in person or online shopping search.

This is just a partial group of the much larger landscape of lesser known, high quality shoes, but hopefully you’ll be able to narrow your search a little bit next time you want some new sneakers.

APL (Athletic Propulsion Labs)

Founded in 2010, the “Load ‘N Launch” technology of these athletic shoes caused a stir when they were actually banned from use in the NBA because of an “unfair competitive advantage” with their use in the game.

The controversy was actually more of a positive statement towards the ability and makeup of the outsole. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a hoops player or just casual runner.


Encompassing the classic Southern California style and feel of the 1960’s, this style of shoe was actually abandoned in the mid-1960’s but brought back to life late last decade. It self proclaims itself to be inspired by the coolest place on the planet, in the coolest of times.

The brand offers sneakers that look and feel casual. Enjoy the sleek suede on the outside and the enhanced breathability and comfort on the inside.


The goal of this unique brand was to simplify things. Make low-tech, high style, easily obtainable footwear. All selections are pre-treated to be waterproof, and their standout suedes are coated with Scotchguard to repel moisture, dirt, and light staining.

Their comfortable Ortholite shoe insoles support the unique structures of your feet. It combines long-lasting cushioning, breathability and durability.

Generic Surplus 

An an off brand of The Generic Man, this shoe brand was founded in Los Angeles with the goal to continually push the evolution of everyday shoe design while simultaneously capturing the spirit and aesthetic of L.A.’s diverse, modern-day urban landscape.

The understated sophistication blurs the line between sneaker and shoe, casual and dressy, etc. The brand’s designs concentrates more on celebrating the shoe wearers personal identity. You’ll find these shoes are generic in name only. They just keep the designs, materials and prices simple, and go from there.


An answer to Vans and DC shoes, Etnies are a popular stylish skate and street shoe that have been very impactful to the market over the years. Their timeless classics include the MC Rap and Sal 23, among others. Etnies have always been a top choice for BMXers and professional skateboarders.

Under Armor

You know them for their athletic apparel, but the Maryland based company has branched into football cleats and basketball style shoes, and is currently bringing out new entries in the running shoe market, as well as other off-field models.

Other independents in the sneaker market include: White Mountaineering, Android Homme, Lotek, Lakai, IPATH, Creative Recreation, Newton, and Supra. Go in a new direction with any one of these fledgling shoe brands today!