In an industry that seems to be unrelenting in its pace, it’s been disappointing to note how slowly the footwear trends have developed over the past few seasons, particularly when it comes to the men’s market.
Where clothing themes change quicker than you can say film-noir-sports-luxe-neo-grunge-orama, shoe and boot styles have not seen nearly as much development.
Men’s footwear has always been grounded in tradition, especially in the UK, where we have the weight of Northampton-based history to bear, and the old-school brands have done very well in recent years. Monk straps (single or double), brogues and derbys have all been reinvented for the modern man, to look pretty much like they always have. Similarly, trainer trends have looked to the past and gone retro. So where is the innovation?
Well, as it happens, it’s on the catwalk. In a very atypical unmanly way, the men’s fashion weeks have
given rise to their own version of the It shoe. Prada in particular has been at the forefront of this, as hybrid mash-ups and a truly refreshing thinking have led to some really interesting, covetable styles. With clothing there’s
a well-worn path from high end to high street as trends make the transition with ease. Sadly footwear isn’t treading that track with quite the same confidence, which leaves us in a situation where too few mid-market and high street brands and retailers are taking risks and pushing things on.
Familiarity breeds contempt, so while the addition of an EVA sole here, a reissue of an old retro style there might keep innovation just about ticking over, it feels to me like we’re due a watershed moment where bravery
will outweigh traditionalism and the industry looks to the future instead of the past.