boat shoes

The best men’s boat shoes for summer 2023

28 Jun 2023|By Richard Brown

Once the rubber-soled embodiment of given-up dad style, the beleaguered boat shoe has been the unlikely subject of a high-fashion resurrection

All products are chosen independently by our editors. Luxury London may earn commission on items purchased.

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…

Sebago Portland Hanami boat shoe

Sebago had been doing a healthy trade in penny loafers for a quarter of a century before it launched the Dockside in 1970. It was the hand-sewn, slip-resistant boat shoe, however, that would become the American brand’s defining creation – since seen on the feet of Pharrell Williams, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Kate Middleton. The latest Dockside features a 360-degree bandana collar and colourful bead fasteners. Newman, we’re fairly confident, would approve.

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Polo Ralph Lauren Merton boat shoe

No shoe says ‘Ivy League’ more than a boat shoe. And no brand is more successful at channelling that preppy American aesthetic than Ralph Lauren. Step in (pun intended) the label’s leather Merton deck shoe. With a classic silhouette and traditional lacing, it’s the deck shoe you think of when you think ‘deck shoe’.

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Duke & Dexter Commando-sole boat shoe

Taking the traditional boat shoe and adding a chunkier, deep-lugged rubber sole, Duke & Dexter creates a shoe that needn’t be confined to life on deck. The brand assembles its shoes by hand in London using top-rate Italian leather – in this case tanned blue and paired with contrasting gold-toned eyelets.

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Paul Smith Jago suede boat shoe

Who said boat shoes had to be cut from brown leather? How about khaki-green suede? Look good, don’t they? And that stacked white sole, cool isn’t it? The traditional lacing and eyelets are there, though, making this pair of Paul Smith deck shoes both mid-century retro and bang up to date.

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Vinny's Aztec suede boat shoe

The whole purpose of boat shoes is to stop you scuffing the teak deck while preventing you slipping overboard. These Aztec deck shoes from Scandinavian label Vinny’s look sturdy enough to keep you out of the drink. Those heavy-duty black soles might do some damage though. Perhaps best to stick to the streets with these ones.

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Camper Runner Four boat shoe

Fun fact: global footwear brand Camper is headquartered on the small Spanish island of Mallorca, the company’s grandfather having introduced one of the first sewing machines to the island in the 1870s. Camper embraced environmentalism long before ‘offsetting’ became a buzzword. Hence this orange-soled pair of boat shoes being made from 98 per cent recycled cotton.

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Thom Browne boat shoe

Boat shoe, but make it fashion. In the case of Thom Browne’s latest deck-ready slip-on that involved adding a fringe to a traditional grosgrain loop tab at the heel, brogue detailing at the front, and a sole with a unique rope-design. Mission accomplished.

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CamperLab lace-up leather boat shoe

CamperLab is to Camper what Moncler Grenoble is to Moncler. Or Brabus is to Mercedes-Benz (sort of). It takes Camper’s mainline and supercharges it. And so we get this beefed-up camel-brown boat shoe with an oversized sole and a special leather that scores bronze, silver and gold. A deck shoe on steroids, if you like.

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Sebago logo-embossed boat shoe

If you associate Sebago with preppy types to whom ‘port’ is a Portuguese fortified wine, and not the left side of a ship, then, well, yeah. But Sebago is also the real McCoy, beloved by captains and crews across the seven seas. The brand has also crossed the cultural divide to make waves in the world of fashion. Thanks, in no small part, to fun, irreverent footwear like these logo-heavy yellow deck shoes.

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Timberland colour-block boat shoe

It may be best known for its six-inch boots, but the other footwear that helped put Timberland on the map was its three-eyelet boat shoe. A mainstay of the brand since 1978, Timberland’s slip-on is more rugged than conventional deck shoes, thanks to a ridged rubber sole and padded ankle surround. The standout from this year’s cohort? This colour-block pair in charcoal, grey and yellow. Punchy.

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