Gear trends: 2015/16 Lifestyle footwear

These boots are made for walking … and hiking, and shopping, and drinking. Check out the new styles and trends to hit retail shelves in 2015/16.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 20 – 24. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Consumers continue to value versatility in their casual footwear that transitions from dirty trails to the office. Just remind them to scrape their feet.

Lifestyle footwear we’re seeing on the show floor exhibits comfort, superior protection from sludgy winter weather, and eye-catching, stylish details that offer fashion-forward looks.

While most lifestyle shoes won’t see the truly gnarly hiking trails coated with ice, snow and mud, few brands are skimping on the technical details such as waterproof/breathable membranes, warmth and traction. It’s a mark of differentiation for industry brands in a category where they face much more competition from larger fashion outlets.

Columbia’s attractive suede, faux-fur collared Minx Nocca (MSRP $85) for women is a trendy ankle-height bootie featuring performance details like an Omni-Tech waterproof membrane and Omni-Heat reflective lining for warmth without extra bulk. Ecco’s Yura (MSRPs $150-$170), low-to-the ground approach shoes for men and women, are crafted with versatility in mind. Topped with a suede and Gore-Tex waterproof upper, the Yura is “more than just a technical product for the weekend’s outdoor activities,” said Liza Zahn, marketing manager for Ecco. “This will be the choice for the buyer who prefers performance clothing in casual settings as a way to advertise his or her status as an authentic outdoor person.”

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Ranger’s fleece-lined, rubber and neoprene Pike collection of boots (MSRPs $90-$120), and Salewa’s Alpine Trip GTX (MSRP $189) for men and women accomplish similar goals. The Trip GTX features a slim, understated profile with a blend of Italian leather, bright and punchy laces and Gore Surround Technology — the latter upping the breathability with underfoot venting ports that remain 100-percent waterproof.

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“The concept of door-to-summit is the trend that is leading product development,” said Eric Henderson, communications manager for Salewa. Likewise, Ariat’s pull-on hunting boots , such as the Men’s Conquest 8’’ H20 Insulated 400g (MSRP $210), feature attractive camo panels, a Duratread outsole, waterproof leather and classic Western styling.

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But what about the outdoorsy gal or guy who doesn’t want to look, well, “crunchy”?

Enter modern detailing and fashion-friendly materials like natural fibers and interesting leather treatments. Keen Footwear nods to the styles seen at New York Fashion Week with traditional rain boots splashed with exotic, global-inspired prints. Keen’s ankle-height Elsa Boot (MSRP $130) infuses brightly colored textiles with functional details, including a grippy, high-traction rubber outsole, toasty insulation and the waterproof/breathable Keen.Dry membrane. Ahnu’s West Portal Boots (MSRP $185) for women hit slightly above the ankle, and despite their military-esque silhouette (they resemble Dr. Martens), they have luxe details thanks to the addition of embossed-reptile leather and autumnal colors like navy, black, gray and maroon.

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Chaco also hops on the form-meets-function train with the Hopi (MSRP $160), a sturdy women’s ankle boot with 3mm lugs, EVA midsole, and a varieagated wool and full-grain leather upper. A thin adjustable ankle strap, accented with antiqued buckle hardware, adds a delicate touch to an otherwise substantial and durable boot. Bogs’ waterproof Juno Lace Line (MSRP $180) is rated to -20 degrees, yet a quilted upper makes them compatible with skinny jeans.

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Such thoughtful additions elevate rugged winter boots and shoes to truly versatile footwear that keeps water and mud out, and warmth and style in. “Younger audiences especially want to wear a boot that looks cute, while they also stay warm and dry,” said Keen’s brand marketing specialist, Carie Behe. “We’ve dubbed this idea: ‘from trails to cocktails.’”

Brands are also bringing lighter post-workout boots and shoes to Winter Market, if indeed consumers want to make a quick switch after being outside.

Pakems’ Cortina (MSRP $80) boots are meant to pamper cramped, cold feet after skiing. Light and packable (shove ‘em in your boot bag), these comfy, water-resistant boots can also tromp through the snow if need be. An EVA midsole and rubber outer offers traction and comfort.

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Sanuk looks to employ its signature lightweight, rebound footbed in modern fall and winter footwear. The Sun Breeze (MSRP $75) for women features floral accents, side peek-a-boo cutouts, and an adjustable leather strap through a bronze ring. Also, check out Sanuk’s new Alphie collection — inspired by vintage European dance shoes, — which all feature a flexible, cushy footbed. The Penelope (MSRP $80) is a delicate suede shoe with a tie closure.

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--Jenna Blumenfeld

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