A decade ago, you could easily spot your fellow dirtbag mountain-climbin’, bike-ridin’ buddy in a coffee shop just by looking at their feet. He wore burly hiking boots covered in mud; she wore clunky, thick-soled sandals. But with subtly fashionable lifestyle footwear debuting at Summer Outdoor Retailer, crunchy mountain guys and gals will don sophisticated footwear that still pampers feet.
Footwear manufacturers are prioritizing clean, modern silhouettes and delicate, chic designs for women. “We were determined to build a women’s line that combined on-trend, feminine styling with incredible step-in comfort,” Teva’s Lorie Pointer said. “It’s not often that you get style and comfort in the same product.” Teva appeals to stylish outdoorswomen with the new Avalina and Arrabelle collections, both of which include mixed materials like leather and webbing reminiscent of Teva’s original line. Teva and other brands know that women are over those uncomfortable stilettos that sink into the grass — the wedge is here to stay. For example, Timberland’s new Roslyn collection crafts a feminine, edgy and outdoorsy shoe with wedge heels made from full-grain leather (left raw for a rustic-modern look), antique brass hardware, exposed stitching, and comfort-forward features like an anti-fatigue footbed that absorbs shock and a rubber lug sole for added traction. Bonus: The leather is sourced from a tannery that wins in water and energy conservation.
Keen delivers both flat and wedge shoes for women via it’s new Dauntless Collection. The Dauntless Posted (MSRP $110) nods to Keen’s outdoor performance elements like a bungee cord heel strap, a PU and leather footbed, and a non-marking tread with city-friendly styling like brightly colored accents.
“Geared toward the younger consumer, the Dauntless collection tells a story of sustainability and comfort,” said Keen’s Joanna Koeberle, who adds that “dauntless” means bold and fearless. “Here we’re borrowing from the outdoor category to target both existing Keen fans and a younger demographic.” Also check out the beautifully crafted Dauntless Strappy (MSRP $120), Dauntless Ankle (MSRP $120) and the brand’s Good Jean Project Mary Jane (MSRP $90) — a sweet, round-toed shoe that uses recycled jeans as a unique and fashionable material.
Similarly, Chaco expands its offerings of leather sandals with the new Women’s Sansa (MSRP $90), a well-designed shoe with a delicate toe thong grounded by a sturdier arch strap. Perfect for meeting friends for cocktails or a casual wedding, the fast-growing leather sandal category can reach new consumers who ordinarily wouldn’t buy Chaco’s indestructible rubber sandals.
Both outdoorsy women and men are attracted to footwear suitable for more than just one activity — a common trend throughout other categories like lifestyle apparel and accessories. “They want a pair of sandals that can transition between environments and activities, footwear that fits their entire lifestyle, not just one aspect of their day,” said Kelly Santos, vice president of Bogs. “Softer, muted colors remain popular in the women’s footwear category for styles that can go from day to night, and be worn at work or on the weekend.” Check out Bogs’ Red Rock (MSRP $160) for men and women, a gorgeous lightweight, leather hiker that also works for casual day activities; DuraFresh and Max-Wick technology keeps feet dry even under sweaty conditions.
You’ll also spot muted colors and pared down, clean lifestyle footwear styling on the show floor, exemplified by Freewaters’ new offerings that also reach consumers seeking outdoor functionality with surfer/climber/backpacker-cool aesthetics. “If you see a rock climber hanging out drinking coffee, it’s hard to tell him or her apart from a surfer,” said Eli Marmar, co-founder and vice president of marketing at Freewaters. “This is fun because it allows a design that easily crosses over between the casual lifestyle and the athletic lifestyle.” The brand’s Sky Slip-On (MSRP $60) for men and women is a classic shoe in SmartSuede, a supple microfiber that looks like leather but is breathable, non-scuffing and non-staining when hit with ocean spray. This shoe contains just one seam for a sleek, clean appearance with tiny perforations in the forefoot for subtle design accent. Lowa’s new San Francisco GTX WS (MSRP $225) for women is a nubuck travel shoe engineered for stability, support and breathability thanks to Gore-Tex Surround technology that provides 360 degrees of temperature regulation.
Also adopting modern silhouettes and unfussy materials, both Sperry and Mammut offer canvas lifestyle shoes with added functionality. Sperry’s low-profile Sayel Away Canvas (MSRP $65) for women features untucked styling, easy slip-on design a and non-marking rubber outsole. Mammut’s Sloper Low Canvas (MSRP $79) for men and women is a multi-purpose canvas shoe with a folding heel that converts to a slide — perfect for post-crag pizza.