Clogs are the new sneakers
A footwear report on how mules, slides, clogs, and slippers are popping off.
We’re in a post-sneaker era (?)
FT and Wall Street Journal dropped pieces on the topic last week, and earlier this year, I wrote about it too.
I think it’s (partly) true, but not for the reasons you might think it is (but it’s good clickbait for publications!).
First off—it doesn’t mean that no one likes sneakers anymore. What I think it means is that sneakers are no longer the de-facto shoe of choice for cultural self-expression right now.
I have a few thoughts on why this is happening. Over the last decade, the commercialization of streetwear and sneakers has created hype cycles that aren’t sustainable.
Consumers are burnt out.
Some of it’s been awesome to watch and participate in, and some of it also feels hopeless. The rush and crash of endlessly buying hyped-up kicks has become so plug-and-play with the big brands (also SNKRS app is still trash!) that the communal joy in acquiring and wearing things is tainted.
In lieu, one style shift I’ve noticed in the last few years that’s starting to really pop is how clogs (our catch-all word for mules, clogs, slippers, slides, and loafers) are damn-near everywhere.
Collabs + customization
I think people are having fun with these types of shoes right now because footwear is a huge ass market, and there’s a piece of the pie for everyone. The ceiling for collaboration and imagination is through the roof when you don’t have to depend on the sneaker oligarchs (Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and maybe ASICS).
But with clogs, there hasn’t been a culturally dominant shoe on the level of other sneaker brands outside of Birkenstock, so the creative optionality is endless (as you’ll see below).
Self-expression and mixing genres
This is a fascinating one to me, and it’s reflective of where menswear is currently at. The idea that “style” has historically been siloed by genre is no longer the dominant theme.
Menswear feels genreless in many ways.
It’s a mix of prep, vintage, tailored, sneakers, and sometimes all together.
Here’s a breakdown of 3 buckets where I’m seeing a lot (and I mean A LOT) of experimentation happening.
Some of it’s good, some of it’s great, and some of it’s bad, but you can judge that for yourself.
Clogs + Mules
Of course, we pay our respects to Birkenstock, the best to ever do it. No amount of TikTok girlies wearing the Boston slides can ruin that beloved shoe for me!
They will outlive the trends.
Still, the clogs and mules have become a shoe with a hot ticket shoe for independent brands to develop and collaborate on. Here are some I’m seeing…
Simple Shoes is a reborn 90s brand that’s been making a wide range of sneakers under the mantra of being… simple. Most of their stuff is ok to me, but the pony hair clog they designed honestly feels like their best one yet.
Muleboyz is an incredible Instagram research account curated by Nordstrom’s Jian DeLeon and Macy’s Noah Thomas.
They feature the latest and greatest mules in the market, and this year they even dipped into the collab world with Birkenstock and Norsdrom, designing these smurf-blue Birks.
As a Clarks desert trek patron, this made me happy to see. They finally made a mule. Clarks as a brand culturally, along with their product quality, is unbeatable, and this felt like a natural extension/use of their classic desert trek.
I love what the Japanese brand is doing with the traditional clog. Such a simple silhouette. Feels versatile, comfortable, and sturdy.
Feit Direct is similar to the Simple brand (footwear-wise). They make somewhat practical footwear, but FD has done an excellent job with slides and garden clogs too, and I love going with the Vibram sole on these ones. Heavy duty.
Paraboot + The North Face
A lot of folks are hating on this collaboration, and I can understand that. But there’s a fascinating undertone to this collab that’s worth pointing out, and it’s the genreless era we’re living in with menswear (what I alluded to earlier). Paraboot—a French workwear shoemaker—partnering with a legendary outdoor apparel and expedition equipment company is so on the most for where we’re at.
Blackstock & Weber
While we’re not focused on loafers in general, Docs Martens, Paraboots, or other shoes with larger lug soles, what Blackstock & Weber has done with reimagining loafers is not to be ignored. Chris has done penny loafs, bit loafs, denim loafs, croc skins, hell, he even made MULES?!
It’s been fun to watch these integrate into menswear.
This brand continues to crush it; everything they do is thoughtful and well-designed. They came out with a suede option too, and it’s just as sexy. Shoutout to Andrew and Johan for creating more heat!
Ok, these Marni slippers are a little extra, in my opinion, but it’s reflective that there’s a play here for higher-end and luxury brands, too.
This is a brand that I know little about, but they’ve gotten my attention recently with these artisan-woven slippers that have a nice shape to them. Similar in aesthetic to the huarache shoes that Nisolo, Knickerbocker, and Huckberry have been known for.
The Sabah Dealer x Imogene + Willie
Ooph. This is a fun one. The Sabah Dealer has blown up the last few years making traditional Turkish slippers with some modern elements, and he teamed up with denim brand Imogene + Willie to design a limited-run shoe made from archived jeans previously worn by customers.
Slides + Stompers
This bucket is where I’m seeing the most overlap with streetwear. Of course, Kanye had his foam runners and Swiss cheese shoes from 2018, but this corner of the footwear game has been blowing up over the last 12 months especially.
Suicoke x bodega
Bodega is one of the best retailers in the game, and they’ve made a technical/functional shoe with Suicoke, a Japanese brand that’s known for making some of the best-in-class slippers and sandals. Here are a few drops they’ve done together.
While Clearweather has traditionally been a hiking+streetwear shoe brand, they recently came out with a line of these colored slides. Nothing crazy; just adding to the noise.
Crocs x Salehe Bembury
If there’s a shoe lately that’s gotten the most as a sneaker, it’s what Salehe’s done with the Crocs brand over the last year. He’s done multiple drops already (in between his New Balance collabs), opened a pop-up shop in Paris this summer, and has generally cemented the designer to keep pace within this genre right now.
And he even has an admirer. Albeit the Suicoke stompers (above) look similar to Crocs’ regular shoes we all know and love (or hate), these just really feel eerily akin to Salehe’s silhouette—just minus the back strap. Just saying.
Did you honestly think Nike would let these independent brands have all the fun while they sit back? There’s a handful they’ve dipped into recently, one of which was with, surprise: Bodega. The other two are yet to release, with Givenchy’s Matthew Williams release coming at the end of the month, and the Nike AF1 clogs (which have gotten a considerable amount of hate!