Comfortable Hiking Shoes Are The Fashion World’s Latest Obsession

Narjiss Essafi – Madame Figaro


Comfortable Hiking Shoes Are The Fashion World’s Latest Obsession

Hiking boots and sandals are leaving the hiking trails to join the fashion world, as they are coveted by a whole new audience. Hiking shoes are the trend we spotted post-Covid lockdowns. 


Celine Spring 2021


Celine Spring 2021


Created for the fans of outdoor activities, comfortable hiking shoes are is now at the forefront of the fashion scene. Not only they were spotted in street style looks, but also on the runways. We loved the revisited hiking boots at Celine this summer, while Virgil Abloh redesigned the light hiking sandals at Off-White.




Trek Sandals, Off-White


This craze is also noticed at more technical brands, such as Pataugas, Quechua or even Teva, which were the choice of many fashion influencers on Instagram. Here, don't go looking for the uniform of the seasoned "backpacker", because the chunky hiking shoe is seen with floral dresses. Just like the rubber-soled pilgrim sandals are worn straight jeans and a small logoed bag. A new style that is modern, grungy and different. 

To understand the buzz surrounding the hiking shoe, you have to look in the rearview mirror. In 2017, the era of gorpcore (practical footwear for long walks and hikes) is booming. This concept was then theorized by the New York Times which inscribed it in the tradition of normcore, this fashion that draws its codes from the paces of the 1990s. The gorpcore, for its part, is more sporty and has its "DNA" in in the high mountain equipments: fleeces, pants, waterproof parkas and walking shoes, all branded with technical labels (Patagonia, North Face, Columbia, Quechua ...). 


Claire Teixeira 

Claire Teixeira


The utilitarian clothing is practically the uniform of American rapper Asap Rocky and this hiking shoe is the obsession of celebrities among whom artists Jay-Z, Kanye West, or even Missy Elliott. But for the American journalist Rob Walker, author of the book Buying In published in 2008, the arrival of the notched-soled shoe in the urban wardrobe goes back further. It was first popular with drug dealers in New York City who needed a rain-resistant shoe for nights of walking on the asphalt. The massive shoe aesthetic was then taken over by Wu-Tang Clan, the American hip-hop group formed in 1992 that largely helped popularize Timberlands in the underground world.


The Symbol of a rediscovered freedom

In 2021, the walking shoe is back as a big trend. At Decathlon, where sales of products dedicated to hiking have jumped in recent months (a double-digit increase for the so-called "normal" period, without lockdowns), this success is explained by "a primary need for the practice of hiking and the boom in outdoor activities after all the successive lockdowns”. It is true that after months of lockdowns, the time has come for disconnection and a very strong desire to reconnect with the outside world.

"It symbolizes the outside world, escape and evokes everything that was forbidden to us during the social restrictions linked to covid-19," explains Manon Renault, professor of fashion sociology at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle. For her, the chunky and comfortable soles are the symbol of a freedom regained after months of isolation. And above all, want to be unadorned. "The pandemic has led the fashion industry to question itself: should we favor a return to simple things or just lean towards exuberance and whimsical pieces?"

For the sociologist, hiking shoes are part of the ecological discourse based on the advent of sustainable community values. Making them desirable means offering a comfortable shoe that conveys a responsible message while working on style.