It will be interesting to read about the current era of mens fashion in twenty or thirty years. Although it’s difficult to put an exact date on it, something that I think is particularly worthy of investigating and praising is the rise of designer footwear collaborations. Whether or not this is a trend or a shift in menswear remains to be seen, but I am capitalizing on its benefits while I can.
As I mentioned above, dating the rise of footwear collaborations is hard. For me, I was first exposed to the phenomenon through Band of Outsiders retooling some of the classic Sperry Top-Sider silhouettes. The first seasons they had classic boat shoes, but over time they’ve also done chukkas and boots (seen below) as well.
I succumbed to the genius of Scott Sternberg on multiple occasions. Thanks to the rise of some other great things for thrifty shoppers (Gilt Groupe anyone?), I’m on my fifth pair. Once you own a pair, it’s hard to go back to other boat shoes – the details are that good. What’s not to like about a unique taste on the iconic offerings of Sperry?
Take the particular pair above (which I coincidentally own). Laces have been replaced with safety pins, hemp is used and the leather is top notch. While most of the models are changed with only reversed details (notice the tongue) and better materials, they all come in at a very reasonable price – $150 to $200 region for most pairs. In my opinion, this is fair considering the materials used and the designer influence. While other designers might charge a couple hundred dollars for their version of a boat shoes, you get the best of both worlds with a Band of Outsiders x Sperry shoe. My eyes are currently set on the shearling pair of boat shoes:
If boat shoes aren’t your style, enter my most recent obsession – Mark McNairys collaborations.
While Mark McNairy’s line of shoes isn’t all that expensive, they’re still an “investment” for most people who aren’t used to dropping $350 on a pair of brogues. As a college student that doesn’t wear dress shoes all that often, I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on shoes I’d only wear a handful of times during the year. What I really was hoping for was casual shoes that I could wear to class, that wouldn’t necessarily break the bank.
Enter in Keds. Not a brand that was on my radar at all, but I’ve been paying attention every since they got “McNasty” to do some collaboration work. The first collection was with the Royal CVO, redone in suede with a red brick sole:
With Mark McNairy New Amsterdam shoes coming in around $400, I think the collaboration with Keds are a steal at $100. Seeing as how they weren’t very popular, I know of at least a few ways to get them for cheaper (as low as $40/pair). Regardless of what price you pick them up at, they
I bought the navy pair (swap out those white laces and use the navy ones) and I’ve turned plenty of heads. I never thought I’d see the day when a pair of Keds is responsible for turning heads.
The bottom line is designer shoe collaborations are a great thing. I can’t help but hope that this isn’t a trend – that Scott Sternberg and Mark McNairy won’t be the last but rather the first of designers to properly transform classic shoes and reinvent them. If you’ve got the money, Band of Outsiders clothing is fantastic (I can attest) as is Mark McNairy mainline shoes (as I hope to attest to soon). But sometimes you don’t need to be dressed up, and these great collaborations with Sperry and Keds fit the bill.