Fashion

Innovative new takes on classic men's shoes

Converse revamps classic Chucks, Adidas makes a running shoe from ocean trash, and more.

Converse took a big risk by updating its most famous sneaker, the Chuck Taylor All Star. Converse took a big risk by updating its most famous sneaker, the Chuck Taylor All Star. Converse took a big risk by updating its most famous sneaker, the Chuck Taylor All Star. (Photo: Converse)

It appears that everything old is new again in men's footwear. Fashion brands seem to be remaining moderately uncomfortable by continuing to innovate in order to keep connected to their loyal consumers. Even if it means daring to reinvent a classic.

These footwear brands are doing anything but subscribing to the adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” with their unique and innovative twists to three classic men’s shoes.


The Street Sneaker

JFK, the Ramones, Kurt Cobain, and James Dean are among the many icons that have been known to rock a pair of Chucks through the years.JFK, the Ramones, Kurt Cobain and James Dean are among the many icons that have been known to rock a pair of Chucks through the years. (Photo: Converse)

The much-hyped debut of the Chuck Taylor All Star II was unveiled this week – a new, improved version of the classic Chuck Taylor. The old-style Chucks hit the scene in 1917 and since then, they have been worn by icons, professional athletes and rock stars alike. The Chuck is that rare product that has managed to remain a pop-culture mainstay for decades. They also happen to be one of the best-selling shoes of all time, with more than 1 billion pairs sold, and still account for a majority of Converse's revenue.

So why now, 98 years since their inception, did Converse decide to redesign their Chucks? Richard Copcutt, vice president and general manager of Converse All Star, says it’s simply to provide consumers with a better, more innovative shoe.

“We listened and took it to heart that people love their Chucks and want sneakers that are built to enable them to do more," said Copcutt. "The Chuck II is the full expression of this consumer obsession, staying true to the DNA of the original.”

Rest assured Chucks didn’t receive a total redesign – the upgrades are primarily in the shoes' materials and construction to make for a more comfortable experience. The Chuck II features all-white foxing, a Nike Lunarlon sock liner and perforated microsuede liner, a foam padded collar, and a tongue that shouldn’t require straightening.


The Oxford

Classic footwear styles paired with modern accents are a signature of Tel-Aviv based Arama Shoes. Classic footwear styles paired with modern accents are a signature of Tel-Aviv based Arama Shoes. (Photo: Oded Arama)

If you’re a guy reaching for a pair of shoes for work or a wedding, chances are you’re looking for a pair of your trusty Oxfords. Men typically gravitate to a classic black or brown Oxford which is a safe bet, but rather mundane. Now you can kick your shoe game up a notch with designer Oded Arama's colorful twists on the classic Oxford that are anything but boring. All of Arama's shoes are made in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he oversees everything from design to sourcing to production.

“Collaborating with other artists and designers helps me grow as a designer," Arama told Etsy. "It allows me to step out of my comfort zone and find a new perspective to my work.”

Arama wants you, too, to step our of your dress shoe comfort zone. The designer plays with unexpected pops of colorful accents and high-quality materials, and each collection is handmade by craftsmen.

We find Arama's use of vibrant colors in his shoes' piping to be handsome, yet not overdone. You'll stand out from a crowd walking in a classic, without looking like you even tried.


The Running Shoe

An Adidas running sneaker upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste.An Adidas running sneaker upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste. (Photo: Adidas)

German apparel giant Adidas is known for its athletic sneakers, apparel and gear, and celebrity endorsements – such as Dwight Howard, Robert Griffin III and Andy Murray – but perhaps not for incorporating reclaimed materials into its products. But that’s changing.

Adidas just released a new prototype for a sneaker woven entirely out of ocean trash. The sample shoe was unveiled at the United Nations Parley for the Oceans event and is made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets. The nonprofit Sea Shepherd retrieved these nets after a 110-day expedition tracking an illegal poaching vessel.

Adidas is knitting the shoe using the same innovative technology they use to create Primeknit shoes with zero waste. Eric Liedtke, an executive board member of Adidas Group's global brands, says knitting eliminates waste because you don’t have to cut out the patterns like on traditional footwear. Adidas uses what they need for the shoe and wastes nothing, according to Liedtke.

Adidas says the sneaker, which is slated to be released into the market later this year, will perform just as well as the sneakers Adidas athletes have come to rely on. They're just made with more responsible, innovative materials so its consumers can run with piece of mind.

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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