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Men’s footwear opts for casual direction

Men’s footwear brands are strengthening their casual element for spring 09 as designers introduce styles that work with the burgeoning smart casual look for men.

Boat shoes, loafers and moccasins are key to this shift in direction. Ben Sherman global footwear brand manager Graham Gordon said: “Versatility is a key attribute in footwear styles now as men need to buy pieces that will team with both jeans and with tailoring.”

Ben Sherman is introducing loafers with fringing and leather laces as it splits its footwear for spring 09 into separate casual and formal ranges.

A spokesman for Loake said: “There is a move towards more casual looks. We have introduced a tassel loafer, a driving moccasin and boat shoes.”

Vicky Haddon, design director for Hudson, said: “We’re known for formal styles, but there is a casual feel for summer in the mainline Hudson range.”

Haddon added that premium range H by Hudson is treading a similar path: “The casual element of the range is upped in H too – we have included an updated espadrille in deckchair stripes and printed fabrics.”

Pete Winkworth, promotions manager at Base London, agreed. “It’s more casual for spring 09 and boat shoe styles form a key part of that. We have also introduced more hybrid styles – all teamed with bright blues and lime greens,” he said.

Winkworth added that Base London’s formal side is also developing its palette. “It makes sense to up the casual side of the range in the summer, but on the formal side we have bolder looks including gold as well as black and white combos,” he said.

Becky Dixey, marketing executive at J Shoes, underlined the current appetite for more colour, and said J Shoes has introduced brighter versions of its carry-through styles, including duck egg blue on its Tudor brogue style.

Other casual elements at J Shoes include a soft suede slip-on and lace-up moccasins in natural shades including stone.

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