After a year of evolving restrictions, doom scrolling and copious amounts hand sanitizer, we have one main takeaway from 2021: There is only so much that we can do to prepare ourselves for the inevitable ups and downs in life. But when it comes to climbing those proverbial mountains, fashion people know that you can at least dress the part – which explains why the hiking boot trend has officially reached its peak.

The lockdown made nature look better than ever. This ripple effect spread quickly to wardrobes and social media. First, the nap dress hit the style scene in 2020 in all its tiered and frothy goodness, made for afternoon snoozing and forest frolicking alike. Then, as temperatures dropped with the dawn of a new year on the horizon, what became known as cottagecore morphed into cabincore, another comfort-oriented aesthetic that favored chunky knits, tartan, quilted fabrics, and the footwear to boot: durable, lug-sole shoes designed for adventure – and now, adventurous dressing.

pair of brown hiking shoes

The appeal of living in the woods is still strong, even as we get out our shoes and slip into neglected party frocks to welcome in 2022. It’s even infiltrating other areas of our wardrobes, with performance footwear leading the charge.

I think that the trend of hiking boots is very trendy because of the casualization in fashion for winter. Shopbop Fashion Director Caroline Maguire says that people are prioritizing comfort in their style. This is why the idea of wearing a “mountaineering outfit” and pairing it with boots like this is so popular. These boots aren’t your typical backpacker’s shoe. Maguire highlights fashion-forward upgrades that raise these boots to statement-piece status. These include translucent platforms by Montelliana and Gia Borghini’s padded cuffs, as well as Larroude’s Jordan style speckled laces, and stitching.

Marina Larroude is co-founder and chief creative officers of her footwear brand. “They come with both colorful and neutral laces, so that the customer can create his own style.”

Paule Tenaillon, co-founder of the Parisian brand Nomasei, has a similar vision for the styling potential of her label’s Slalom shoe, which she describes on the site as “all-terrain boots” inspired by her grandmother’s glamorous ski attire in the ’70s. This boot can be worn with a two-toned, double lacing pair or with a casual outfit for a weekend getaway. The boot has a nostalgic feel to it, a tribute to Tenaillon’s grandmother as well as to her happy childhood memories in the mountains. They were first made available to purchase in late 2019 and quickly became a top seller.

Maguire concurs, stating that she has seen shoppers gravitate towards versatile boots that can be worn from day to evening. The hiker shoe, like the Balenciaga chunky dad sneakers, is stylish enough to wear with any dress, but not too ugly to add intrigue to the most basic outfits. The resulting vibe is footpath-turned-catwalk.

This year’s fall/winter ’21 shows certainly paved the way for the rise of pragmatic footwear with a twist. Stella McCartney and Givenchy leaned into outdoorsy apparel in the form of heavier, weather-proof shoes that were styled with sleek blazers, plunging necklines, asymmetrical dresses, and knitted skirt sets. Thanks to Chloe, the Parisian streets of Saint-Germain-des-Pres saw the return of the early-aughts Moon Boot, much to the delight of Y2K-loving Gen-Zers. Models at Miu Miu literally trudged through the snow in heavy-duty (designer) gear for the task, while Loewe released a film for Eye/Loewe/Nature featuring upcycled garments worn with multicolored hiking boots, all set against an ultra-urban backdrop. The hybrid hiking shoe, which is part-sneaker and part-boot for summer, was paired with barely there bikinis by Loewe for the Paloma Elsesser capsule. The trend was then reinterpreted by Jacquemus in various variations, including one Kendall Jenner lounging in a hammock. The French brand’s fall ’21 collection is appropriately titled “La Montagne”, which means “The Mountain”. It demonstrates that the outdoors are still very much in fashion.

brown leather lace up shoes

If you follow this trend back a little, Bryan “Bryanboy” Yambao’s daunting and eminent adoption of the look in the summer 2018. He walked into Paris Men’s Fashion Week wearing hiking boots and thick black socks. He wore thick black socks and hiking boots, and he turned up the style dial with a button-down, cargo-style shorts, and a few accessories. It was only a matter time before this look became mainstream. The appeal of #cabincore helped accelerate its rise. Four years later, mountain-ready footwear is everywhere – from Prada to Ganni, and everything in between.

This month’s back-to-back, high-profile drops prove that the hiking boot is now the hottest shoe trend in winter. Moncler, a swanky skiwear brand, teamed up with HOKA to release a high-performance shoe that can be used in both urban and mountain environments. Canada Goose, the luxury outerwear brand, launched its Journey Boot last week. It is inspired by alpine and arctic boots, but has “variable features that make it equally useful for city adventures,” according a press release. The hiking boot is a style icon of Himalayan proportions, thanks to such prestigious brands.

Let’s remind the unsuspecting of the vice-like hold that athleisure has held on fashion. The combination of comfort and cool is what has kept the hiking shoe relevant. You can feel like you’re in Catskills, even though you’re back to Brooklyn-Manhattan. It’s a call to action after too many months of barefoot living on the couch.

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