The term “smart casuals” is synonymous with men’s footwear, but brands at Project Sole in New York City highlighted some of the sharpest looks yet. Brands presented their Fall ’17 collections, placing an emphasis on tall boots, plush linings and athletic influences.
Hush Puppies added a technical feel to its athleisure assortment with the Expert, a modern navy suede lace-up with a sporty outsole and color contrasting neoprene sock liner. The new style complemented the brand’s range of suede slip-ons, Chelsea boots and lightweight leather brogues. The brand used white outsoles as a key ingredient (and indicator) in the casualization of these traditional styles.
Like Hush Puppies, Trask relied on navy and grey to add a fresh look for fall. Highlights included a range of double monk strap shoes made with waxed suede and monochromatic suede sneakers with tall bottoms.
Trask also expanded its repertoire of boots, adding tall boots lined with double faced shearling and dressy chukka boots with brogue detailing to its collection.
The brand played with texture further by sprucing up lace-up boots with crosshatch textures. The embossed leather treatment was carried into a new line of leather joggers—a style that has begun to appear across several men’s brands.
Johnston & Murphy touted hand-burnished Italian leather joggers in their growing athletic collection. New to the U.S., German shoe brand Shoepassion featured the retro silhouette in its deep range of casual and dress footwear. Meanwhile, sportswear brands peppered their small footwear assortments with black and white joggers, offering an alternative to the cupsole and vulcanized kicks that have dominated athleisure collections for several seasons.
Crepe was Johntson & Murphy’s biggest story at the show. Flexible and comfortable natural crepe outsoles were applied to chukka boots, wingtips, and athletic-inspired styles. The heritage brand’s side zipper boots garnered attention from buyers, as well as a shearling lined boot with the reverse of the hide integrated into the design. The result was a traditional lace-up boot with ultra-soft panels around the ankle.
For cold regions in the U.S., Shoepassion promoted dress shoes lined with lamb fur and winterized dress styles with Goodyear welt soles. The company’s director of sales, Marc Schiefelbusch, said the brand is on to U.S. consumers’ desire for comfort. For its U.S. debut, which produces footwear in Spain, Italy and Portugal, “Americanized” some of its styles by using EVA outsoles, soft deerskin uppers and a memory foam footbeds.