From hikers to hybrids and fashion to function, the footwear offerings at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market were designed to keep active feet warm, dry, and firmly on the ground. Driven by the multiple requirements of adventurous millennials, urban commuters, comfort-seeking boomers and true outdoor enthusiasts, the athletic and outdoor footwear market, worth $4.6 billion, saw sales advance by 11% last year, according to The NPD Group.
Styling Starts Low and Gets Technical
Winter boot styling has never been better, with low-cut hikers, lace-up street boots and heritage looks such as the duck boot leading the fashion parade. New materials and mixed media uppers included flannels and tweeds at Kamik, Baffin and Wolverine; sweater knits at Kamik and Khombu; and patina’d urban streetwear textures at Danner, Keen and Columbia. There’s more color as well, from rich merlot and burgundy leathers to earthy greens and blues, along with neon accents. Ugg-inspired suede, shearling, and faux furs continued, while knitted one-piece uppers and woven synthetic jacquards ruled the light weight hybrid category.
The Borealis boot from Baffin resembled footwear out of Star Wars. A completely waterproof, shiny thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shell upper was also cut-and-abrasion resistant; while the boot’s interior was ultra-engineered for comfort.
Tall winter boots, particularly lace-up “muk-luks”, haven’t gone away. Inspired by snowboarding, Columbia’s Loveland OmniHeat was designed with all the bells and whistles: it’s waterproof, insulated, and sports serious treads. “Footwear has been taking off; it’s really important for our business,” confided Columbia Director of PR and Communications Scott Trepanier.
Kamik’s smart-looking Pinot muk-luk featured a tweedy-appearance waterproof nylon upper with foam insulation and a waterproof boa lining, along with its waterproof DriDefense bootie construction.
The growing hunting/fishing category, along with military and work boots, employed typically rugged, outdoor styling, with an emphasis on camouflage patterns. The Original Muck Boot Company tapped into the Alaskan zeitgeist with its Arctic line. Designed for hunting and fishing, Under Armour’s tactical Infil Hike GTX stayed true to its military DNA with supportive auxetic foam, breathable Gore-Tex membrane and a Cupron antimicrobial liner.