Justin Sullivan/Getty

  • For many of the Valley's elite, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power and nonchalance, creativity, and exclusivity.
  • With help from the team at the sneaker marketplace Flight Club, Business Insider compiled some of the most fashionable, expensive, and downright wild sneakers worn by tech founders and CEOs.

The inhabitants of Silicon Valley are not exactly known for haute couture.

It's a land where jeans, T-shirts, and hoodies reign supreme, and where sneakers are the footwear of choice.

But don't let the pedestrian fashion item fool you. These sneakers can be as rare and as status-defining as the fine watches adorning the wrists of Wall Street bankers or the designer handbags clutched by elite art dealers.

For many of the Valley's elite, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power, nonchalance, creativity, and exclusivity.

With help from the team at the sneaker marketplace Flight Club, Business Insider compiled some of the most fashionable, expensive, and downright wild sneakers worn by tech founders and CEOs. The Flight Club team helped confirm the brands and styles and provided expert commentary and analysis.

We did our best to find photos of female tech executives wearing sneakers, but our search didn't yield many results. Women such as Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer wore low heels, flats, or loafers, which says something about how much freedom women have to dress down in the corporate world.

If you dream of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, lacing up a pair of these sneakers probably won't get you very far. But at least you'll look the part.

Check it out:

Mark Zuckerberg: Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 in Wolf Grey

Getty / Drew Angerer

Since Nike's Flyknit franchise was introduced in 2012, Flight Club says it has seen resale values in "the hundreds, and some well over a thousand."

The Wolf Grey sneakers favoured by Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, aren't currently sold in stores, but you might be able to find them on eBay.

Price: A similar pair costs $110. (about R1,500)


Satya Nadella: Lanvin Suede & Patent Leather Low-Top Sneaker

Justin Sullivan/Getty

When the Microsoft CEO took the helm in 2014, it quickly became clear he was stylish. So it's no surprise he opts for a more fashion-forward take on sneakers, with a pair from the French high-end brand Lanvin. Even sneaker lovers on Reddit have inquired about Nadella's kicks.

Price: $525 (about R7,500)


Sundar Pichai: Lanvin Men's Cap-Toe Leather Low-Top Sneaker

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Nadella isn't the only one who likes Lanvin. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wears them too, but he prefers an all-black version.

Price: $513 (just shy of R7,400)


Larry Page: Lanvin Low-Top Sneaker with Contrast Heel

Kimberly White/Getty

Perhaps Pichai is giving fashion tips to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Page also favours Lanvin sneakers, though his are a bit harder to find - the style is currently sold out.

Price: About $300. (R4,300)


Jack Dorsey and Susan Wojcicki: Rick Owens Island Dunks and New Balance W890v4

Getty Images file: Jack Dorsey (right) speaks during The New York Times 2017 DealBook Conference .

Dorsey, Twitter's CEO, is known for having a more advanced fashion sense than some of his Silicon Valley peers, so his sneakers by the avant-garde designer Rick Owens certainly fit his style. Owens' shoe line is something of a cult favourite in the sneaker world, but he has also collaborated with Adidas on a line.

Price: $1,185 (about R17,000)

Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, opted for a bright pair of New Balance running shoes to complement her athleisure look at Sun Valley in 2015.

Price: $35, down from $110. (about R500, down from (R1,500)

Rick Owens

New Balance

Sam Altman: Puma Blaze of Glory

Getty Images

The president of Y Combinator is known for his casual style and penchant for wearing sneakers. In fact, he was once kicked out of The Ritz London for wearing his Puma Blaze of Glory shoes.

Here's what Flight Club says about the vibrant sneakers:

"The Puma Blaze of Glory was a retro model from the '90s that Puma has brought back with a vengeance. We've seen this model be reinvented time and time again over the last three to four years. [Puma has] sustained popularity with this model by collaborating with streetwear brands such as Kith, Alife, Stampd, Staple, Bape, Sneaker Freaker, etc. The model has been a popular sell through among a few 'sneaker heads' buying the hyped collabs."

Price: These shoes can resell for $257 to $325, according to Flight Club. (R3,700 to R4,600)


Tim Cook: Nike Roshe Two Flyknit

Stephen Lam/Getty

Cook, Apple's CEO, is the lead independent director of Nike's board, so it makes sense he'd choose Nike kicks.

"For Nike, the Roshe run has performed really well over the years," the team at Flight Club says. "It was first spotted overseas in Asia, and then it hit the States in 2012. We have witnessed the Roshe run sell by the hundreds in the secondary market ranging from $109 to $300 (R1,500 to R4,000) , depending on popularity. The demand for this model and return upon investment are undeniable."

Flight Club says the most popular colours for Roshe Runs are Triple Red, Calypso, GPX Tiger Camo Pack, Yeezy, Rainbow, and Santa Monica Pier.

Price: The original pair is sold out, but you can get V2 for $50 (just over R700), down from $130 (R1,800).


Here's Cook in another pair of Nike shoes.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Cook was spotted in Nike Roshe Ones at the grand opening of an Apple Store in Palo Alto.

Price: $75 (about R1,000)


MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos: Ash Bowie Wedge Sneaker and Converse Jack Purcell Low-Top

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Novelist MacKenzie Bezos favours wedge-heeled sneakers by Ash, while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wears more affordable Jack Purcells.

The Jack Purcell was designed in 1935 as a badminton shoe - Purcell himself was a Canadian badminton player - but Converse bought it in the 1970s.

"Converse has stepped up the model by doing cool collabs with men's contemporary brands like rock designer John Varvatos, Neighborhood, WTAPS, and Comme des Garcons. Also, let's not forget the annual Missoni collab," Flight Club says. "For those interested in finding rare, dope spins on this model, we've seen the best executions of these models come out of Japan."

Price:  (MacKenzie) - about $210 (R3,000), Jeff $65 (R930). 

Ash/Neiman Marcus

Jack Purcell

Daniel Ek: Nike Air Force 1 '07

Michael Loccisano/Getty

Ek, the CEO of Spotify, has "one of the most iconic shoes" to come out of Nike, according to Flight Club. Nike introduced the Air Force 1 in 1982 and sold an estimated 12 million pairs during the shoe's peak in 2005.

"Over the years, the model has become iconic and part of the very fabric that makes Nike so great," Flight Club says. "The Air Force franchise has left a historic impression not only on sports culture, but it has been a hands-down pop-culture staple. Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, Air Forces have been a staple in streetwear fashion - especially the beloved white-on-whites."

While Ek sports the basic version of the shoe, Flight Club says it has seen high-end and rare versions of Air Force 1s "flip for the thousands."

Price: $90 (just shy of R1,300)


Ek is clearly a fan of white sneakers — he has also been spotted in a pair of Adidas' best-known shoes.

Michael Kovac/Getty

Ek is wearing Adidas Superstar Shoes.

Price: $80 (R1,400)


Evan Spiegel: Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers

(Getty Images)

Spiegel, CEO of Snap, is a longtime fan of the high-end sneaker brand Common Projects. In fact, he told GQ he has worn the brand since high school. But they don't come cheap - an average pair of Common Projects costs $400, according to Flight Club.

"The all-white pair of Achilles is the most popular colourway for the brand," Flight Club says. "Some may ask why would you pay so much for such a simple shoe. The answer: craftsmanship. These shoes are hand-stitched and usually made out of Italian leather. Also, they look great with your everyday look."

Price: $415 (almost R6,000)

Common Projects

Kevin Systrom: Lanvin Classic Leather & Suede High-Top Sneakers

Mike Windle/Getty

Systrom, Instagram's CEO, is a yet another tech CEO who favours Lanvin shoes.

"I'm a sucker for Lanvin sneakers because I have big feet and they fit me really well," Systrom told The Wall Street Journal. "It's hard to find a day where I'm not wearing them."

Price: $452 (around R6,500)


Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is known for his eye-catching shoe choices. In fact, there's a Twitter account, @BenioffsShoes, dedicated to his footwear. Here he is in a more demure black crocodile pair ...

Steve Jennings/Getty

Source: Twitter

... but he wore this pair of "cloud walkers" by the high-end-shoe designer Christian Louboutin in 2013, and he has had several other cloud-themed shoes made for events like Dreamforce, Salesforce's huge customer conference ...

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Source: Twitter, Business Insider

... like this custom pair, also by Louboutin. Here's the signature red Louboutin sole.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Men's Louboutin high-tops can cost between about $950 (almost R14,000) and $1,995 (R17,000), although a custom pair would likely have cost more.

Aaron Levie: Asics Onitsuka Tiger California 78 OG

Alison Buck/Getty

The Box CEO is known for always wearing sneakers - he doesn't own a pair of dress shoes, according to The New York Times.

"Sneakers help me walk faster," Levie told The Times. "Plus, it reminds me that we're fighting for the end user - the consumer - because they wear sneakers, too!"

Levie favours Asics shoes, like these Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. Onitsuka Tiger is an Asics label that focuses on a more vintage style, according to Flight Club. While Levie's blue and orange pair is sold out, other colours are still available.

Price: You can't buy Levie's exact pair, but a similar shoe will cost you $90 (about R1,300).


Brian Chesky: Gucci Ace Leather Low-Top Sneaker

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, is another stylish exec, and he often chooses unique - and expensive - footwear. The Ace sneaker has been a popular model for Gucci, and the brand has recently seen a resurgence in the fashion world, according to Flight Club.

"The last and current season has been trending on the blogs and among celebrities," Flight Club says.

Price: $580 (R8,300)


Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk

Mike Windle/Getty

It turns out all three Airbnb founders have a strong sneaker game. At Airbnb Open in 2016, Chesky, left, wore a SeaVees Maslon Desert Boot Wintertide; Gebbia, centre, wore a Reebok Pump Omni Lite; and Blecharczyk, right, wore a Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6.

Prices, from left: $108; between $90 and $180; $75. (R1,500, R1,300 to R2,500, and just over R1,000)




Sean Rad: Saint Laurent Signature Court Classic SL/18H Fringed Sneaker

Steve Jennings/Getty

Rad, the founder of Tinder, has high-end taste when it comes to shoes. His fringed high-tops are sold out on Saint Laurent's site, but you can likely still find them on eBay or buy the grey version on Spring.

Price: A similar pair is $385 (R5,500) on eBay.

Saint Laurent

Elon Musk: Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG

Lily Lawrence/Getty

It's hard to be sure, but Business Insider and Flight Club think Musk, the Tesla CEO, is wearing the Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG, a shoe created by the renowned design trio of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker. These shoes are hard to find - not to mention expensive.

Price: A similar pair costs $1,540 (R22,116) on Flight Club.


Sergey Brin: Vibram FiveFingers Classic

While he doesn't exactly have stylish taste in shoes, Brin - a Google co-founder and the president of its parent company, Alphabet - certainly has unusual taste. Brin has been known to wear Crocs for public appearances, but his most serious fashion faux pas may be his preference for Vibram FiveFingers, the wacky, sock-like shoes that have space for each of your toes.

Price: $80 (R1,100)

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