What you wear at the end of your legs is unlikely to change dramatically from season to season. Of course, we’re not advocating wearing flip-flops in December; rather, we’re talking about the trends in men’s footwear, which have more in common with the tortoise than the hare.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t any difference at all. Subtle changes in the rest of your wardrobe (and the weather) do spur some movement south of the ankle, so it’s important to get up to speed if you want to put your best foot forward. Fortunately, we’ve done the leg work for you – here are five styles you should consider adding to your shoe rack for AW17.
Call them ugly (because really, that’s what they are), but big, bulky trainers are ‘fashion’ AF right now. In a clear signalling from the menswear gods, every brand from Clarks to Nike and even Common Projects (yes, maestro of the stripped-back sneaker) has released a chunky-profiled model for the months ahead.
For inspiration, Mr Porter buyer David Morris suggests looking to the 1990s. “Sneakers continue to be key for autumn/winter with chunky, maximalist soles taking focus. Available in bright or monochromatic colour-combos, this nineties-inspired look is modernised by exaggerating the footwear shape in hefty proportions.”
When it comes to styling, avoid wearing these with skinny jeans, which will make you look like you borrowed someone else’s shoes. Instead, opt for heavier weight denim worn with a turn-up or straight-cut trousers.
If five-kilo clunkers feel a little too, well, corrective footwear, rest easy because there’s still no end in sight for the sleek sneakers that have dominated the footwear game for years.
“In contrast [to the chunky maximalist soles], luxe sneakers are also still on trend this winter,” says Morris, who adds that there is a sporty feel to more recent models. “Clean, classic running-style shoes [are back] with a focus on quality and craftsmanship using opulent, luxurious materials such as rich suede, tonal leathers and nylon.”
The best low-maintenance low-tops for winter come in muted colourways and wipe-clean leathers, but if white suede is what does it for you then you are A) a mad man, and B) required to stock up on plenty of shoe protector to keep them clean.
A perfect storm of camo on the catwalk and moss green having a moment means that this season’s stompers are clumpy, chunky and wouldn’t look out of place on your childhood GI Joe toy (scaled down, obviously).
“The world of military clothing has been an inspiration to civilian fashion ever since the turn of the 19th century,” says Morris. “The high-shine, lug-soled military boot is the latest example of this centuries-old trend that is back for autumn/winter.”
The key to pulling this off is not looking like you’ve fled from a particularly muddy part of enemy territory. They might have their roots in the military, but these are civilian shoes and so should be clean and polished enough to slip under a suit. Think roll call-ready burnished leathers and uppers shined so hard you could shave in them.
As the outside world gets darker, most guys begin to reach for clothing that matches. But it needn’t be a total blackout this season. For AW17, big-name designers showcased head-to-toe colour (emphasis on the ‘toe’, in this case) and the footwear world has responded with shades from every crayon in the box.
Selfridges’ buying manager Luke Mountain says it’s an offshoot of the nineties grunge trend that has started to emerge in menswear. “Bright colours, leopard spots, checks and even distressing are coming through more and more.”
Rocking a tonal outfit that includes footwear in a similar shade brings a whole new meaning to “matching the carpet to the curtains”. But if bold colours are a little too much, the trend can also be adapted for an all-green-errthang or even camel look. Just kick off the boring black shoes and embrace some (any) colour.
If there’s one thing that nearly all of this season’s designs have in common, it’s a thicker than average sole – whether it’s on the base of boots, with treads that could double up as tyres; or shoes, in the form of crepe-sole Derbies.
“The return of older, vintage styles has been rising in popularity, with most brands now jumping on board with easy-to-wear incarnations [of all kinds],” says Mountain, referring to the trend for wearing old school sneakers, before all the advancements in tech helped streamline soles without sacrificing comfort.
As well as the obvious practical benefits of providing added traction during wet and icy days, the look is good news for Bilbo Baggins and pals too, as these shoes should see you jump in stature by at least an inch. Who needs lifts, Tom Cruise?