This Is the Trend That Continues to Dominate Men’s Footwear, According to Retailers

The sneaker trend shows no signs of a slowdown. Specialty retailers shopping the recent Project Sole show in New York have athletic styles on their shopping lists for fall ’18.

Vendors are prepared with plenty of sneaker options, putting the focus on styles detailed in dressier leathers that complement a softly constructed sport coat or jeans. “Dress shoes are a difficult classification. It’s all about the sneaker,” said Danny Marsh, owner of Sy Devore in Studio City, Calif.

Golden Goose is one brand that has proved to be a best-seller for Marsh. Several seasons ago, he tested the collection, which retails at $500 a pair, and sold them out. “I can’t get them fast enough,” he said. “I didn’t think [customers] would spend [this much].”

George Wilder, owner of The Locker Room in Montgomery, Ala., agreed that sneakers are growing in popularity, although he noted it took his customers longer to embrace the trend due to the store’s location in the more conservative South.

Wilder said he plans to buy lace-up styles on cup soles that work with sport coats. “Guys don’t want to wear ties,” he said of today’s casual lifestyle. “They also don’t want to wear [basic] tennis shoes but want to be comfortable.”

Jacob Antebi, director of sales for Brooklyn-based Marc Joseph New York, said while sneakers continue to be strong for the brand, the demand has been for styles in luxury leathers. “True athletic looks will fade,” he predicted, referring to core sneaker brands, while he said dressier versions will keep performing.

Johnston & Murphy 1850
A slip-on sneaker from Johnston & Murphy 1850 fall ’18 collection.
CREDIT: George Chinsee

Although athletic looks continue to gain momentum, retailers are rounding out their fall assortment with tried-and-true classic Chelsea boots, chukkas, monk straps and Alpine looks.

Jim Ockert, president of Khaki’s in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., said these styles are popular with the store’s diverse tourist trade. Boots on lug bottoms, wingtip monk straps and split-toe lace-ups were among the top performers.

Like Ockert, Michael Malouf, owner of Malouf’s in Dallas and Lubbock, Texas, said chukka boots and lace-up styles are on his radar for fall. “I’m also going to buy some fashion hikers from Diemme,” he said.

Robert Talbott boot
Robert Talbott fall ’18 chukka boot.
CREDIT: George Chinsee

Although his customer base is more traditional, he is considering some directional styles from Right Bank Shoe Co. of New York, such as offerings with color contrasted underlay designs. “They’re fashion-forward looks you don’t see repeated anywhere else,” he said.

At The Locker Room, Wilder said, traditional shoes round out his mix for fall, which includes ankle and chukka boots in addition to double-monk-strap styles.

To give classic looks a fresh point of view, brands such as Stacy Adams are playing up the color story. “Color in dress [shoes] is selling,” said VP David Polansky, citing cranberry and navy. “Men are not averse to having some vibrancy in their footwear.”

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