Acouple of years ago, a trend emerged that combined specialist performance outerwear with an abundance of facial hair. As a look, it suggested a readiness to do battle with the elements, but although the gear was technically up to scratch, it was really all about a certain urban style – and one that, until now, was lacking in the footwear department. That’s been put right this autumn with a collection of hiking-inspired boots and shoes and, frankly, they look just as great on the clean-shaven as their bearded brothers.
Marc Hare’s Mr Hare Hannibal (£495) is a prime example: deftly restyled hiking boots in brown or black vachetta leather with a lightweight white sole to provide a sturdy platform. A second pair of laces – in red – is included for those who want to make a feature of the hooks.
Z Zegna’s take on hiking boots (£520) in rich brown or black calfskin with ribbed fabric padding at the ankle, plaited laces and a shock-absorbing rubber sole have a burnished patina to the toe, which looks great with classic denim jeans. A ski strap appears on Berluti’s Brunico (£1,660), in black Venezia leather or mossy green suede, based on a vintage ski boot made for silent-movie star Rudolph Valentino. For more streamlined styling, there is the Brunello boot (£1,310) in glazed leather with a suede panel under the laces.
In a footwear category that often bristles with extra features, the pared-down brown or navy-blue matte-effect calfskin Mountain boots (£695) by JM Weston feel like a special departure. A simple line of eyelets has the elegance of an old-fashioned ice-skating boot, with lace detailing at the back and a welted sandwich sole.
Another elegant take on the theme is John Lobb’s Alder Derby boots (£1,190) in fine calfskin with a waterproof finish, a subtly padded ankle, a streamlined rubber sole and palladium lace hooks. These come in distinctive colours such as plum, new gold or navy and would create a certain military swagger worn with a long, engulfing coat.
A military interpretation is also in evidence at Santoni, where a richly textured ink-grey calfskin ankle boot (€1,450) is a smart hybrid of a riding boot and a hiking one with a raw-edged leather, stirrup-like detail, soft lambskin-lined nappa leather at the ankle and finely punched holes and waxed-cotton laces.
More experimental still are Louis Vuitton’s deep-blue combat-style Land boots (£915) in Taiga textured leather with a rugged black rubber sole and leather toecaps, and blue cotton laces. Jimmy Choo also pushes the envelope with its black leather Dimitri trekking boot (£795). A giant shearling tongue is restrained by statement D-rings and the semi-translucent rubber sole has playing-card symbols embossed in the treads.
And in a brilliant hiking-inspired fashion statement, Louis Leeman has created Italian calfskin lowtop trainers (£475) in collaboration with Carlos Campos, with a flash of gold hardware in the form of lace hooks. While a gleaming white pair really shows off the gold, they are available in black or matte brown leather too. Leeman has also introduced hiking-style hooks to a classic punched-toe lace-up Oxford (£595) in burgundy or brown leather.
Acne Studios’ hiking/work boot hybrid, Daniel (£330), comes in textured cotton canvas and suede with a single-piece moulded rubber sole and toecap and is typical of the Swedish fashion brand’s leftfield aesthetic. The boots have a utilitarian feel and come in black with buff and chocolate. Rather more formal is Tod’s classic tanned and hand-waxed calkskin brogue boot (£550) with a light sole with extra grip.
For a more traditional take, O’Keeffe has a pair (£650) with an over-strap ski boot-style detail, in washed leather with tooled wooden Norwegian-welt soles and French nappa-leather lining. And Canadian brand Viberg’s handsome chestnut-brown boots (£560) come in Chromexcel leather with a one-piece upper that, along with a Goodyear welt sole, makes them naturally waterproof. Brass D-rings and leather laces add vintage authenticity.