I was recently asked by UK shoe retailing heavyweights ‘Size?’ what I was expecting this year in footwear trends and I could honestly reply based on what I have observed behind the scenes. This year I’m happy to see clean forms, designed with focused research. We are focusing less on heavy branding, giving the spotlight to materials, design, and reference. So expect progressive design to flourish, as we play with the best technical and traditional materials. Think of the ongoing Converse x Nigel Cabourn collaboration that this season saw the release of his cameraman jacket in footwear form. Fireman clips, ventile and wool didn’t just jazz up a classic pair of cons but cleverly MADE the shoe. I have experienced on first-hand Nigel’s deep respect and admiration for the work of Mihara Yasuhiro who iconically spliced shoes to create a line of high-end and high-concept line, continuing to create work that beautifully balances wrongness with cleverness in a poetic Japanese way. It’s loudness in its subtle differences.
I think we are transcending trend-based fashion into a more exciting, earth-conscious future. I’m already seeing lots of textile paneling and developing that idea of “new and old” into a more refined product. My go-to closed toe shoe in warmer weather would undoubtedly be the canvas sneaker. So let me explore this in a very simple form. I’m taking you over to the most basic of materials, canvas, to talk about how the wonderful fabric can shape the most hard working shoe.
Vintage PF Flyer Low-Tops
What a classic. These were born when canvas footwear pioneer BF Goodrich patented the Posture Foundation insole, an innovation in comfort and performance, and began adding the new technology to its action shoes. This was America during the 1930s where industry was growing but we have the 40s and 50s to thank for bringing the shoe out of the sports club and onto the streets. The PF Flyer was a perfect candidate indeed. The Posture Foundation had its own posture correcting insole and they cleverly named it the PF wedge.
The Hill-Side Japanese Denim Low-Top.
These shoes are another great shape. They’re a narrower width though I don’t mean to ward off folks with wide feet but they are a superbly constructed shoe, made by the Moonstar factory in Japan if I were to hazard a guess. These guys have made one of my favourite go-to sneakers and earn big stars to me.
The Vietnam War Era Jungle Combat Shoe
These are made for those with wide feet! In all seriousness they were peanuts to buy and super comfortable. I found them in an open market in the Burmese countryside. A lot of this stuff passes through the country but I wonder if they are in fact remnants of the British military occupation in Burma during the WW2. Their soles made them perfect for tracking through the equatorial scrub while light enough to carry in your pack.
Pro-Keds Re-Issued High Tops
A Modern release that has recently made me happy are these Pro-Keds. They’re back in production after such demand for the originals in dead stock supply all over the world. Their soles are cushiony but not as dreamy as I thought, though they were a dream to break in without a blister in sight. I look forward to using them to death this summer.
Sperry’s Canvas Boating Shoe
Finishing with some super comfy candidates, the Sperry Canvas Boating Shoe is soft, forgiving, and come with suede laces that will never need tying. Their elastic inner tongue keeps any pressure off key points of the shoe while Sperry have done a splendid job of maintaining a trueness to their brand.