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Boat shoes are making a re-appearance in this season’s footwear collections, with designs that run the gamut from the ultra-conservative brown or tan to edgy two and three-tone combinations and smart but sassy plaid variations. These are deck shoes for (almost) all seasons, with stain-resistant, water-repellent uppers, great traction in wet as well as dry conditions, and a comfortable, cushioned fit.
In fact, boat shoes never really went away. They’re a timeless classic for a reason — as practical for active wear as they are stylish for dress-down Friday or a weekend trip. Men and women have been finding excuses to sport this favored footwear for the better part of eighty years, even if they never set foot anywhere near the deck of a yacht.
The story goes that in the 1930s, Paul Sperry – founder of the shoe company that bears his name today – was looking for shoes that would not skid on a painted boat deck, wet or dry. Finding that there were none, he set about experimenting to design his own, and finally found an idea from his cocker spaniel dog’s ability to run without slipping on the winter ice. The natural pattern of cracks and crevices on his dog’s paws gave birth to the notion of a siping pattern on rubber soles that inspires deck shoes to this day.
The quintessential look of the boat shoe owes much to the design of the native American moccasin, formed from a single piece of soft leather with stitching at the top. Modern deck shoes retain the comfort of soft leather that has been oil-treated to resist water, and many designs feature hand-sewn seams, an all-round lacing in rawhide or similar material and brass eyelets. You can also find slip on versions.
While part of the attraction of deck shoes is their versatility in combination with different styles of clothing, many style gurus maintain that it is cooler (in both senses of the word) to wear them without socks. Wearers appreciate the qualities of the design that let the foot breathe while being supported by a cushioned midsole.
From their invention as a working shoe to their popularity as modern fashion icon, boat shoes have gained a wide following and a secure place in the hearts and leisure wardrobes of men and women around the world.
write by Azura