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I have a confession: a good 90 percent of my footwear wardrobe is made up of white sneakers. There are more refined boots and loafers from the likes of Weston and Lobb in my closet but still, nine times out of ten, I reach for a pair of colorless kicks. I won’t admit exactly how many pairs, but the options run the gamut from marquee names to good old Adidas and Nike. All of this is to say that I consider myself a particularly well-informed judge on the subject of white sneakers. And when I say that CQP’s are some of the best in my collection, it is no small plaudit.
The Swedish brand was founded in 2014 by Adam Lewenhaupt, a banker and lifelong sneakerhead who was searching for a pair of trainers that looked as good with a suit as they did with jeans and a tee. “To me, shoes are among the defining details of an outfit; they can dress something up or down,” he tells us. “I was looking for something that gave the impression of being custom-made, that could be worn on a day off or at the office.”
After a year of R&D, he released his first design, produced in Portugal using leathers sourced from tanneries in Italy (now, some leathers are sourced from his native Sweden, in a sustainable effort to produce closer to home). Given the ubiquity of white sneakers—most brands that deal in footwear have their own iteration—it is the subtleties that make all the difference. And that’s precisely what sets CQP’s kicks apart: the leather is buttery soft and flexible, there is no superfluous padding (which makes for a clean, streamlined silhouette and allows for greater breathability), the construction is exceedingly thoughtful. The design doesn’t shout but is thoroughly considered.
The style I opted for—the Racquet SR, a classic low-top with a slightly thicker sole—is the apotheosis of Lewenhaupt’s aim to produce a tailored sneaker. The last, a slim almond-toed shape, is based on a dress shoe. Like all of CQP’s shoes, it is constructed with shanks (a concealed structure that is common in more formal footwear but rarely seen in sneakers). This addition ensures that the shoes will maintain their sleek shape, avoiding the rumpled look that inevitably befalls most sneakers after a couple of months of wear. Indeed, after wearing them almost daily for two months, my Racquet SR’s still look smart.
Looks aside, comfort is key to a great sneaker. And on that front, CQP doesn’t disappoint. The outsoles, from Margom and Vibram, are a solid foundation. On my white leather pair, the sole and foxing are a cream color—a clever detail that ages with grace and mitigates that glaringly pristine, brand new look even when the shoes are box fresh. The upper is lined with calfskin of the same, supple quality as the exterior, which allows the shoe to conform to the shape of one’s foot for a glove-like fit. There’s also an unlined version (simply called the Racquet) that’s even more flexible and airy, ideal for the warmer months.
But for a year-round, all-occasion white sneaker, the Racquet SR is a first-rate choice—even for this sneaker snob.