The roles are reversed. In an increasingly fluid fashion scenario, men’s shoes look solid, but are actually light

[On the cover: Prada, Federico Cina, Philipp Plein FW22/23 fashion shows]

Genderfluid, a recently acquired word in fashion terminology, is a prelude to a new freedom in dressing: it is made up of garments and aesthetics mixed with one another, in it there are no boundaries of gender, functions, or proportions. Taking these trends to the extreme, on the men’s catwalks of Milano Moda Uomo for Autumn-Winter 22/23 there were men with wide knee-length skirts and Bermuda shorts, trousers with applied skirts, down jackets that turned into trousers, extra-large outerwear and knitwear, oversized ski or work suits, pearl necklaces, and pastel colours including pink. In contrast, there were also very tight second-skin trousers in silver knit or jersey. The designers’ gags contrast with the proposals of the companies, as seen at Pitti Uomo, which focus on their DNA, combining tradition and experimentation, tailoring and streetwear, reinventing everyday garments that become interchangeable and malleable – often with an irreverent touch. In short, the classics are no longer what they used to be.

In this panorama of contradictions and fusions, footwear maintains masculine stylistic codes by focusing on solidity, robustness and accentuated thicknesses with rounded volumes and important soles. A robustness, however, that is only apparent: in reality, the soles are super light and flexible and comfort is king.

Traditional models in a contemporary key

Also in this case, classic models are contaminated with sporty soles and vice versa. Lace-ups, double buckles, moccasins with thick tread soles (replacing leather ones) have rubberised toecaps and details that pay homage to work shoes. The ‘wallabee’, a typical model for the male wardrobe, is present in many collections in a leather or suede version.

The boot becomes evergreen

No ankle boot, no outfit. Fashion requires it and companies respond with a wide range of proposals. Beatle or lace-up, hiking or biker, the ankle boot in various heights has rubber tread soles or para bottoms, rounded and often reinforced toes, uppers in treated and used leathers.

Sneaker: from refined, to sporty

For the second millennium dandy, sneakers are chic and refined – and it’s the materials that make the difference: a mix of fine leathers, including python, or wool fabrics combined with deerskin; the silhouettes are simple and the soles are less extreme. Sport-inspired sneakers are, instead, more gritty: the uppers are a mix of natural and technical materials, often with dirty effects, the soles are box or chunky. Of all types of footwear, sneakers are the most virtuous, experimenting with eco-friendly materials for the upper, recycled rubber soles, biodegradable linings, and cotton laces.

Flavia Colli Franzone

Traditional models’ Gallery : Amedeo Testoni, Doucal’s, Barrett, Baldinini, Boemos, Paolo Scafora

Boots’ Gallery : Pezzol, Calpierre, Antica Cuoieria, Premiata, RoccoP, Maritan Verona

Sneakers’ Gallery : Harris, Franceschetti, Brimarts, Lotto, Pantofola d’Oro, Voile Blanche, MonoWay, AmaBrand

Photo credits Gabriele Zanon