The success of neo hiking boots

This year, hiking boots are blooming on the catwalks as well as in the street!  So that city dwellers can stroll comfortably and with style, technical hiking brands are renewing their historical models. Zoom in on some of these French brands.

by Ophélie Francq

Embellished with colored laces for Prada, black for Miu Miu and Moncler, canvas for Céline or 100% cotton for Jacquemus (whose collection was called “The Mountain”); hiking shoes have come down from the mountain peaks to the urban pavements. To the delight of technical brands.

North Face is now collaborating with Gucci and in the street, the influencers are wearing Pataugas and Téva in a relaxed way.

Even Arthur, a young man in his thirties from Corsica, has finally fallen for them: “I bought a pair of Salomon shoes 4 years ago to go hiking, and for a few months now I’ve been wearing them in Paris to go to work.  Before, I thought they were too big, but the trend must have gotten under my skin!

The trend of “hiking boots” is not new. In 2009, the Canadian Arcteryx launched its Veilance line of technical hiking clothing in a more urban design. In 2017, the New York Times had even put a word on the phenomenon: gorpcore! Gorp stands for “good, oats, grapes, peanuts” (the hiker’s favorite energy mix) and core stands for hardcore.

A style that sacralizes the sporting attitude and draws its “DNA” from the panoply of high mountain guides: fleeces, pants, waterproof parkas and hiking boots, all with technical labels (Patagonia, North Face, Columbia, Quechua…).

If 2021 has re-launched the hiking boots boom, perhaps it is due (once again) to this strange period. The successive confinements have caused a need for nature and comfort. And for that, what better than the hiking boot as a symbol of freedom? According to the Paraboot brand, born in 1905 and historically linked to technical mountain and climbing shoes, the trend is part of a broader phenomenon: “The eco-responsible discourse is at the center of fashion today.

People are increasingly looking for authenticity and durability in products. But this type of shoe is made to resist over time.

A trend that comes at the right time: “We have to deal with the rise of the sneaker market,” says Paraboot. For the past two years, sales of their iconic models -the Avorias and Yosemites- have been climbing and requests for collaborations are pouring in! “Because our history makes us legitimate on the market. 

Pairs designed in the 70s at a time when the brand takes advantage of the rise of leisure to make real mountain boots (hiking, skiing, after skiing …).

This year, it’s the Yosemite model – originally designed for rock climbing – that has been revisited for a collab with the Walk in Paris label; in a “Dream of Yosemite” version, offered in velvet fir green, equipped with yellow laces and designed with rubber coating strips on the front and back of the shoe.

“We styled it and lightened it for Parisian sidewalks because originally the model is not made for walking. But the pair remains sturdy!” Most of the brand’s shoes are handmade in Isère with the use of Norwegian stitching.

A technique that is rarely used, because it is complex and time-consuming: “But it allows for a solid and flexible assembly at the same time. It also makes the shoe waterproof and makes resealing possible…”

Revisiting technical shoes for city dwellers is also the bet of the French brand Le Soulor, born in 1925. Initially, this Béarn-based company made work shoes for shepherds: “Sturdy but they hurt your feet,” Philippe laughs, beret screwed on his head.

This lover of the region took over the company 5 years ago. Since then, the concept has evolved: “We simply ask each customer: ‘What are you going to do with your shoes?

Depending on whether he wants to raise sheep, go for a walk to pick mushrooms or ride his bike on the banks of the Seine, we will choose the thickness of the leather, the counter and the type of sole… The shoes will thus be more or less supple and thin”, explains the man from Béarn. The customer can then choose the color of the pair before receiving it two to three months later. A responsible approach to avoid surplus! Each pair is also designed by hand (with the same Norwegian technique). “We requisitioned craftsmen from the Compagnons du devoir or from major brands such as the one whose name begins with a large H. Very talented people paired with older ones. The transmission of knowledge is essential.

At Le Soulor, sales of soft shoes are now equivalent to those of the more rigid ones: “Logical because the market for shepherds/lumberjacks/carpenters is non-expandable unlike that of urban dwellers. “Already distributed by stores such as Le Vieux Campeur, Le Soulor has just opened its first Parisian store in the heart of the Marais!  But shepherds will never be forgotten, Philippe promises.