Boat shoes are back, baby. Of course, the moccasin-toed, non-mark slip-ons never actually disappeared. They certainly never went extinct from the stands of Twickenham during the Summer Internationals. Nor did they become hard to spot on the riverbanks of Henley come Regatta. Indeed, for their anti-scuff credentials, we’re pretty sure that solidly-made soft-soled deck shoes never fell out of favour with, you know, actual boat owners.
Still, it’s hard to remember a time when that most barbecue-friendly of fair-weather footwear ever bothered the style pages of glossy fashion magazines (see the bit about Twickenham and Henley). Boat shoes were never HIGH fashion. They were never street. Well, turn the ship around. Because now it seems the humble, wear-with-anything slipper is both hip and, as we’ll see below, increasingly square.
For proof that the boat shoe is now bona fide cool see a recent collaboration between Queens-based streetwear-supernova Aimé Leon Dore and iconic urban bootmaker Timberland. Earlier this summer, Timberland invited ALD to let loose on its chunky-bottomed three-eye-lug boat shoe. Three exclusive colourways were chosen. Gold hardware was added. Like most Aimé Leon Dore collaborations, the collection made waves (you can still bag yourself a pair, should you own some freakishly-sized feet).
It was the second time that Aimé Leon Dore had modified Timberland’s best-selling boat shoe, the first rework dropping in 2021. That initial collection, a sell-out, arrived a few seasons after Prada sent models down the runway in thick-set deck shoes (and, er, deerstalkers) in Milan. Since then, Brunello Cucinelli, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik and Loro Piana are just some of the names that have jumped on board, joining the likes of traditional boat shoe-makers – Rockport, Sebago, G.H. Bass and the OG of deck shoes, Sperry – in offering contemporary reboots of your old man’s favourite summer slip-on.
These are the other most shipshape boat shoes of summer 2023…