If you plotted out footwear styles from the past few years on a Venn Diagram, you would find the relationship between sneakers and dress shoes has become more and more involved. Not long ago, brogues, saddle shoes, bucks, longings and cap-toes were everywhere. Then dress shoes and sneakers started to merge together into what many saw as the best of both worlds. Things seemed to be led by the menswear magazines, Pitti street style and comfort-loving guys everywhere. It seemed perfectly normal to wear sneakers with a suit. More than that, it felt stylish and right. Then boom, this past month Alex Williams in The New York Times declared sneakers the new black. Sneakers are the new dress shoe and, as it happens, sneakers are the new everything. To further prove that they look good with (almost) anything, I recently spent a few days in NYC wearing the new Converse Jack Purcell Cross Stitch collection all over town.
Leather shoes are all about potential. The real appeal of a pair of leather soles lies not in how they look today, but how they’ll look tomorrow. “Character,” is that intangible factor that compels us to purchase a pair of shoes based at least partially on its ability to age along with us. Japanese footwear label Hender Scheme is driven by this notion, as their collection of raw leather shoes are distinguished by their promise of an incomparable patina. Unlike most leather sole labels though, Hender Scheme isn’t best known for dress shoes (although they have recently begun to enter into this market), instead they focus primarily on sneaker silhouettes. These shoes, much like paying a visit to your hometown as an adult, are at once both familiar and unknown.
At the Pop Up Flea this weekend, Red Wing Heritage is launching two new and exclusive (never before sold in the U.S.) styles. Inspired by Red Wing Heritage’s style no. 101, known as The Postman. Originally developed to meet U.S. Postal Service requirements, The Postman style is probably best known for being featured in an iconic advertisement by Norman Rockwell. After many years of status quo, the Postman shape is getting a much desired update. and just in time for summer.
More details about these two new Red Wing styles:
For the first time since 1954, Red Wing is expanding this style. The new Postman are built with the same features as style no. 101, including a dog tail, blind eyelets and Goodyear Welt. They are crafted with premium leathers made at Red Wing’s own S.B. Foot tannery. The cushion crepe outsole gives these boots as much comfort as the original shoe.
It began with a smile.
More even than the man himself, the Jack Purcell line is best represented by a smile. Not everyone can recall that Jack Purcell was a Canadian badminton player, but we can guarantee that most people can recognize that subtle black “smile” that’s stamped on the front of his signature sneakers. And now nearly eight decades after Jack first took to the court in those white plimsolls, Converse is taking the brand to new heights thanks to that smile.
Converse has transformed that upturned line into a logo, stamping it proudly on a tee alongside their straightforward, unflappable message, “Smile.” That t-shirt is just the start of the brand’s newly formed apparel collection, which includes a polo (again with an all-over print smile motif that is almost reminiscent of waves), a lightweight blazer, and a unique barn jacket/blazer mash-up. Of course, the sneakers are still the most extensive part of the collection, adding a premium edge to the iconic silhouette, most notably on an indigo colored pair that features the wavy smile pattern.
Like a Wes Anderson movie, the Diemme story does not have one true main character, rather it’s an ensemble cast, that comes together from across the world to create Diemme’s unique line of casual footwear. The shoes are manufactured in Montebulluna, Italy by Calzaturificio Diemme, with the help of two design and sales companies, Blender Agency from Norway, and GMT Tokyo in Japan, as well as MnO International, a Swedish distributor. At the heart of the Diemme project lies two brothers, Dennis and Maico Signor, who have been manufacturing boots under the Calzaturificio Diemme name since 1992.
A decade ago if you asked anyone what they thought of Birkenstocks their answer would’ve probably included some contrarian remark about either dead heads, frat bros, or both. For at least some of us though, these connotations are now a thing of the past, as we have entered into a new era in which Birkenstocks are not only acceptable, but dare we say stylish.
First produced in Germany in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, the brand’s signature slip ons have been celebrated for centuries as some of the world’s most ergonomically advanced footwear. When they were introduced to the U.S. in the sixties, they were immediately polarizing, as those that adopted Birks praised their comfort, while those that disparaged the shoes wrote them off as being plain old ugly. The shoes outdoorsy fans could care less about their critics, and Birks became an integral part of this culture, which in turn actually helped to make the shoes fashionable as mountaineering style has become popular during the past few years.
The current New Balance mania that’s cutting through the sneaker world like a Vibram soled tornado has all the makings of a lost Malcolm Gladwell case study. What exactly was the tipping point that launched NB’s from average schmo staple to fodder for the insatiable menswear masses? I’ll leave that one for Gladwell’s next book, but I will say that New Balance has done an exemplary job at embracing their new-found market. Sure, those old school, all grey sneaks that the Costanza’s of the world used to wear still remain their most popular models, but over the past couple years NB has revamped their classic running shoes to create some damn fine, and for that matter, flashy, designs. It seems that every week New Balance seems to drop another “banger” (that’s what sneakerheads are saying these days right?) so we decided to round up the eight best releases of the past year.