Gear trends: Winter lifestyle footwear for 2014/15

Fashion forecast: Uncertain snowfall slims downs styles for year-round flair.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 21 – 25. 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.

Weather not only affects trends in performance gear — the past two weak winters also have altered fashion and lifestyle footwear.

“The heavy reliance on products that are only used for winter and snowfall can really be a problem — if it doesn’t snow, you’re out of luck. In lifestyle and performance, we’ve tried to build products that are winter capable, but not winter committed,” Columbia’s lead footwear product line manager, Todd Lewis, said.

Lifestyle footwear is a category consumers perceive they need, so it’s always in demand, said Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports in Kings Beach, Calif. Consumers want something that has great traction and waterproof capabilities, but is stylish enough to wear to the office or out on the town in more than just the winter season.

“Outdoor consumers turn to outdoor brands for lifestyle shoes because they are looking for core performance elements that those brands bring to casual shoes — traction, support, rugged construction and features that work in the elements,” said Oboz Designer Chuck Roth.

Honing in on multi-month functionality, Columbia Sportswear expands the ladies’ Minx collection to five varying heights, including the waterproof Shorty Omni-Heat Print (MSRP $90) with 200-gram insulation. Keen Footwear brings the women’s faux-fur-lined Wapato Tall WP (MSRP $150) and mesh-lined Wapato Mid WP (MSRP $130), with waterproof leather-suede uppers. Salomon has the soft-textile, lace-up HIME High and Mid with waterproof suede-leather uppers and Contragrip soles (MSRPs $140-$160). The Zophia Collection’s (MSRPs $135-$165) traditional shell boots from The North Face include ankle bootie to above-calf heights with 100-gram Heetseeker insulation and TNF Winter Grip rubber outsoles.

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Hi-Tec Sports launches the Cool Season line, including the ladies’ slip-on, durable, textile Thomas Boot 200 i (MSRP $80), Trooper Mid 200 i WP with waterproof leather-canvas uppers, and the Hi-Tec Norse 200 i WP — all with stain and water repellency (MSRPs $110-$130).

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Technical, utilitarian designs also step up style for fashionable, everyday wear.

Oboz Footwear releases the Mendenhall Mid and Low with nubuck leather, a supportive insole and rugged outsole. (MSRP $110-$125). Adidas Outdoorbrings the high-top Trail Cruiser Mid (MSRP $125) and Felt Boot (MSRP $130) with waterproof-breathable compacted-wool felt uppers sandwiched by 100-gram Primaloft.

For ladies, boot-sneaker blends are another option, with the mid-calf Libria Emerald (MSRP $150) and The North Face Ballard Roll-Down (MSRP $100). Patagonia Footwear brings the 100-gram Primaloft-insulated Activist Fleece Waterproof tall suede boot (MSRP $165), while Timberland spreads its Sensorflex technology — a mix of firm and soft layers for comfort and support — into the men’s 8-inch Roll-Top (MSRP $200). The Schazzberg (MSRP $160), also from Timberland, is a waterproof boot with a thick midsole and 200-gram insulation.

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Wolverine delivers waterproof mountain town boots in the men’s Lifty and women’s Crystal (MSRPs $125/$160). Bogs introduces its inaugural leather casuals with the men’s Eugene Chukka (MSRP $125) and women’s Pearl Tall Boot (MSRP $170) with four-way stretch, insulation and antimicrobial protection. And protective yet ultra-packable boots take off with the Activist High Puff Waterproof and lower-cut Activist Mid Waterproof (MSRPs $150-$175) from Patagonia Footwear, with mid-lug rubber tread and waterproof ballistic nylon.

Comfortable, durable slip-ons also are increasingly popular at Winter Market. Patagonia Footwear offers the suede-leather Activist Fleece Mock (MSRP $120). Oboz Footwear debuts the poly-twilled textile Cody with an oiled-suede and leather upper (MSRP $95). Salewa’s leather Capsico Insulated has a moveable heel support for sneaker-to-clog flexibility (MSRP $119).

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An artisan approach to design is another trend worth noting. Classic wingtips recall traditional aesthetics and more models show off chic-tomboy style.

“We’re seeing more leather and some brands expose the outside stitching between the leather and the sole — things that are a throwback in time,” said Sofia Goumas, co-owner of 123Mountain in Lakewood and Copper, Colo. “You can see genuine craftsmanship.”

A good example is heritage brand (but footwear newcomer) Woolrich and its men’s Millwright wingtip ankle boot (MSRP $300), with a full-grain leather upper, felt-flex midsole and Woolrich wool lining. With wool or leather uppers, the ultimate-travel Beebe boot (MSRP $180) is flexible, packable, wool-lined and outfitted with Vibram lugs. The ladies’ Tomboy collection offers the tall Roadhouse zip-up boot (MSRP $350) with cap-toe, lace-front detail and lugged rubber outsole, while the Engineer collection includes the Rockies (MSRP $220), a mid-cut, lace-up leather boot with a stacked leather heel.

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In an urban-outdoor hybrid, Danner broadens the men’s Forest Heights line (MSRPs $260-$285) with the sleek Forest Height II silhouette atop Vibram Mini Lugs. Emulating a brogue wingtip, Timberland displays a rubber-shell toe-front in the men’s lightweight Stormbuck Duck boot (MSRP $160).

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In true tomboy-chic style, The North Face produces the Ballard Rivet (MSRP $130) with full-grain leather upper, medial zip and riveted eyestay detail, plus the Ballard Lace (MSRP $150) with a PU-coated leather upper and wraparound lace detail — both with temperature-sensitive IcePick lugs.

“Consumers are looking for emotional connection to product,” said Woolrich Footwear Creative Director Carl Blakeslee. “Authenticity is a word that gets tossed around a lot, and consumers are ever more on a lookout for this — people are paying more attention to detail.”

--Morgan Tilton

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