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New Year, New Shoe: 10 Practical Pairs For 2019

Find your footing with our rundown of walking boots and trail sneakers to see you through the season

January is considered a month of “self-improvement”. It’s a time when we collectively replace overindulgence with 31 days of frugality and, for practitioners of Dry January, stone-cold sobriety. It’s the most sensible time of year.

So, in the spirit of “being better”, we see your sensible eating habits and exercise regimen and raise you a sartorial counterpart: sensible dressing. Or, to be more specific, sensible footwear. These days, sensible shoes pull off a rare feat: they’re sturdy and stylish. And in some cases, namely trail sneakers, are also extremely covetable and on trend. Read on for 10 picks of the best.


PRACTICAL BUT POLISHED

It’s OK to be wary of the term “walking boots”. It might conjure images of your dad’s camping gear. And indeed, for many designers, that’s entirely the point – the output of Gucci and Maison Margiela, for example, have a whiff of irony to them. But there’s a new generation of practical pairs that marry a functional approach with a sharp design outlook. Our current favourites are from luxury label par excellence Loro Piana. Part of the aptly named “Walk” line, this Laax pair is crafted with one-piece deerskin uppers and set on pillow-like natural rubber soles, making them some of the comfiest pairs we’ve sunk our feet into lately. And that’s before we get to the cashmere collars. We still can’t decide between the chocolate-brown and mahogany pairs, so we’re seriously contemplating getting both. 

ADVENTUROUS TYPES

Footwear scaled new heights in 2018. Chief among the smorgasbord of new and improved styles were hiking boots, a shoe that borrows from traditional alpine styles. There is a proliferation of high-design options to choose from at the moment. Take this Serra pair from visvim, Mr Hiroki Nakamura’s cult Japanese label that specialises in utilitarian and workwear-inspired pieces. With Goodyear-welted Vibram soles, heel guards, cordovan leather uppers and bright-blue laces that add a sporty touch, this pair is more than up to the task of daily treks through the city (and beyond). Then again, if you’re, say, meeting with a client, that’ll call for something at the smarter end of the spectrum. Enter Ralph Lauren Purple Label’s Fidel boots, which come with similar sturdy Vibram soles, but are crafted from smooth, supple suede. We’ll just be particularly careful when navigating puddle-pocked streets.

COLD COMFORTS

According to the weather forecast, we have a long, cold winter to look forward to. We expected as much, which is why we’ve come prepared with the thickest, cosiest pair of socks possible. Shearling is the sartorial equivalent of chicken soup: comforting and just a little bit indulgent. In the spirit of “self-care”, do yourself a favour and invest in some boots lined with the fuzzy stuff. Take your cue from Moncler, responsible for this sturdy Egide pair, and, if we might ever-so-humbly suggest, ourselves. These Jacques boots from our very own Mr P. collection are a cosy pick and are made from waterproof waxed-suede reinforced with a watertight Norwegian welt, so they won’t get soggy when you get caught in the rain.

TRAILBLAZERS

Few designers possess the nous to pull off what Ms Miuccia Prada does season after season: something completely different, yet still familiar. Even when the label revisits its 1990s greatest hits (bucket hats, jazzy prints, nylon bags et al), we’re always in for a pleasant surprise. For its latest trick, the brand is repurposing trail sneakers in its own singular way. That’s right, the sportiest shoe in your repertoire is about to get even sportier. The new mesh silhouette (which comes in both a space-dyed red and grey or graphic blue colourway) is inspired by runners previously only available in the “extreme” section of sporting goods stores. Strap them on – they fasten with Velcro – and you’ll be set to tackle even the trickiest terrain. Or at least look like you mean business.

GOOD SPORTS

Not to be outdone, the sportswear giants are serving up a more literal interpretation of the trail trend. First up, Nike. The latest iteration of the striking Air Presto silhouette – an eagerly anticipated follow up to 2016’s sell-out collaboration with Munich-based streetwear experts ACRONYM – fuses eye-catching neon and graphic elements with signature technical features. In short, they’ll hold up to anything you throw at them. In another collaborative effort, adidas Consortium has enlisted Japanese brand White Mountaineering to create these Terrex Two low-tops. The sleek design plays to the Tokyo label’s strengths, utilising outdoors-specific materials, including Gore-Tex guards and rubber soles to render them much more practical and hardwearing than your standard runners.

Step right this way

  • Brunello Cucinelli Fleece-Lined Burnished-Leather Boots

  • O'Keeffe Austin Suede-Trimmed Polished-Leather Boots

  • Grenson Brady Brushed-Suede Boots

  • Gucci Leather, Suede and Monogrammed-Canvas Sneakers

  • Balenciaga Track Leather, Mesh and Rubber Sneakers

  • Nike Air Max 270 Bowfin Mesh and Nylon Sneakers