The Best and Worst Men’s Trends of 2016, According to Designers

From the sneaker craze to military looks, high-end men’s designers cast their vote for the best and worst footwear trends of the year.

Scott Patt, head of innovation and design, Cole Haan

Least favorite trend: “My least favorite footwear trend became my favorite. A beautiful men’s oxford is always important to have. If you’re lucky enough to find a good pair, they’re often unfortunately heavy and uncomfortable. In 2016, we [designed] a dress oxford on the outside with the comfort of a sneaker on the inside: The Grand Revolution Washington.”

Archie Hewlett, director, Duke and Dexter

Top trend: “Embroidery. It’s a huge trend for clothing and now a mega-thing for shoes. The Gucci slip-on has been instrumental in promoting it, and a lot of key designers are following suit. It’s popular from a bespoke tailoring point of view and also from a funky exclusive-design concept.”

Least favorite trend: “The Kanye West sneaker craze [due] to [its] commercial factor. [Stores] had to hype up the release of each of the Yeezy collections, but were given so few pairs. It reflected [negatively] on them.”

Paul Andrew, CEO and chief creative officer, Paul Andrew

Top trend: “I love the look of a thick lug sole, like that of my Samson shoe. There’s something enticing and unexpected about a shoe that’s rugged in a tailored way.”

Least favorite trend: “Cowboy boots. They’re just not my taste.”

Jury Artola, co-founder, Artola — The Brooklyn Footwear Co.

Top trend: “Military inspired high-top boots with brogue and wingtip details. It’s a tailored military look that’s sophisticated. Any guy can wear them and feel they’re wearing a modern trend.”

Least favorite tend: “Mules. [However], we sell a lot of classic penny loafers on updated lasts in the Middle East, where [customers] ask us for mules.”

Noah Waxman, founder, Noah Waxman

Top trend: “I didn’t become a shoemaker to make sneakers. But no one can deny sneakers are huge right now. It’s been fun to play with the sneaker and athleisure trend. For fall ’16, we introduced our Essex sneaker, a unique spin on a tennis shoe. We used an uncommon ghillie lacing structure and mixed suede and vegetable tanned vachetta leather. I’m pleased with the result, and customers are digging it, too.”

Least favorite trend: “One I’m hoping moves on fast: the bling-y shoe. I’m drawn to timeless design, distinctive materials and details.”

George Esquivel, founder, Esquivel Shoes

Top trend: “As a product of the ’90s — music and fashion — I like the Creeper sole. It was the second wave of punk with [bands such as] Social Distortion wearing Creepers. I incorporated the [bottom] in my fall ’16 [line] and [moved] it into spring ’17. Mine are a nod to the look — a Vibram bottom with thicker heel and classic uppers.”

Least favorite trend: “I’m not a big fan of mules for men. I do them for women and they look attractive, but it’s not very flattering on a man’s foot. [While] it’s been working well for high-end designers, it’s not who I am.”

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