Trusted by sailors, caught by frat-boy types and uniquely indicative of WASPs, the humble boat shoe fell out of fashion favor long ago. But, finally, the time has come to redeem the sea slacker.
The charge begins, as it usually does, with the always avant-garde Miu Miu. Prada’s achingly powerful sibling launched flat boat shoes as part of its Spring/Summer 2024 collection, giving its models the selfless, vivid ease of salty burnThey are preppy loser kids.
Miu Miu is a solid weather vane for the way the fashion winds blow, so it’s important that these pre-crushed boat shoes are a centerpiece of Miu Miu SS24, even anchoring the brand’s cute name and nautical tint “Miu Crew “. “Tokyo pop-up.
While Miu Miu’s ivy-filled beach bags and Breton-striped tops were the clearest ode to commercial influences on the Spring/Summer 2024 runways, its boat shoes are a natural evolution of contemporary footwear styles.
The first fashion highlighted Mary Janes; Then came the loafer and ballet flats. Boat shoes were the next logical progression, in terms of bringing back high school footwear.
You can sniff ivy-like themes in other SS24 shows: Marni’s hallucinatory paintings were a psychedelic evolution of madras paintings; Bally’s sophisticated office wear was an urban evolution of the Wharton grads’ uniform, but Miu Miu specifically is putting the best foot forward in boat shoes.
However, you are not necessarily alone.
Every season, designers as diverse as Off-White™, Dries Van Noten, Loro Piana and Tod’s repeat the boat shoe. It’s a constant staple in Aimé Leon Dore and J.Crew lookbooks, where prep is always in style. Miu Miu is not the first to tackle the silhouette, far from it.
But that boat shoes are receiving such a decisive boost from the most important brand in fashion? There is something there.
Miu Miu alone doesn’t create a trend (well, sometimes it really does), but add JW Anderson to the mix and the boat shoe plot thickens, literally.
The bulbous boat shoes that LOEWE’s creative director debuted for Fall/Winter 2024 are a heavy remix of the typically low-profile lace-up ones, taking things in a completely different direction than Miu Miu’s flat-bottomed girls.
They’re weird, sure, but they’re also cool. And they’re indicative of how designers can truly redeem the boat shoe through an adventurous redesign.
Growing up in Florida, I saw boat shoes on a daily basis, typically worn sockless and tattered by pickup truck drivers for whom the trend peaked with Vineyard Vines (no problem, they’re almost certainly happier than I am).
But the end result of seeing all these worn-out boat shoes was that they took on a mindset inextricably associated with a feeling of going out of style. They are the footwear version of cargo shorts.
It’s a shame because they are one of the quintessentially great American shoes and many manufacturers, including OG Sperry boat shoe brandproduces quality iterations at a national level.
As such, there is always a place for boat shoes within the grooming inclinations of the post-#menswear panoramaespecially the thick tracks made famous by the collaborations of Timberland’s GH Bass and Mark McNairy.
But, perhaps because they come with more cultural baggage than their school peers like loafers and Mary Janes, boat shoes have yet to escape their comfortable but narrow niche in men’s fashion.
As such, it’s up to women’s wear designers to finally redeem the boat shoes.