Fashion Men's Fashion

Embrace the Humble Water Shoe, 2020’s Weirdest Trend

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And where Yeezy goes, the rest of menswear is sure to follow. When Palace Skateboards unveiled its latest collaboration with Adidas, it was a pair of vibrantly colored water…sneakers? Whatever you want to call them, they were the item that everyone seemed most excited about. Nike’s “Canyon” sandal, inspired by the brand’s All Conditions Gear sublabel, features a beefy outsole, a plush foam midsole, and a product description stating it was designed for both “cityscapes” and “river banks.” Hoka, makers of innovative running sneakers, debuted its own amphibious style: the Hopara, which looks like it could have been designed by Jun Takahashi or Errolson Hugh. Even Gucci sells an outdoorsy closed-toe sandal that looks fit for a romp in the river.

So: Why the water shoe? Is nothing sacred? Start here: They feel pretty good to wear—far cozier, to be sure, than the dress shoes we no longer need to wear. Water shoes subscribe to the contemporary notion that fashion footwear should provide style and function in equal measure.

A yellow and orange nylon water shoe by Palace

Palace’s take on the style.

Courtesy of Palace

There’s more to it than that, though. “I think that clothing designed for an actual purpose is having a moment in general,” says Ciongoli, whose own brand’s durable fleeces and meant-to-be-baggy cargos also carry an aura of functionalism. “With people stuck at home for so long, the idea of buying things that romanticize the idea of being outside and exploring things is really appealing.” 

Ultimately, the appeal is multilayered: a bit of fashion defiance, a blurring between sportswear and city wear, a quarantined summer that calls for a rethinking of the house shoe. But whether you’re on your third pair of Hydro Mocs or have sworn off the idea entirely, consider yourself lucky. It could be worse, after all: We could still be arguing about Crocs

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