Seishou's Boat Shoes, Hopkins Camouflage is perfect for an outfit at the beach

Boat shoes: is this trend back again?

Each year, once outdated fashion trends often come full circle. Boat shoes are often associated with preppy attire and a lazy attempt to style an outfit, but they are now making a triumphant return to the forefront of fashion. During the last Fashion Weeks boat shoes have made a return to the catwalk, redefining their status as a timeless and classic wardrobe staple. For example, Miuccia Prada with Miu Miu did this in its spring / summer 2024 collection presented in Paris.


Boat shoes from Miu Miu's 2024 S/S Collection in Paris
Miu Miu - Spring / Summer 2024


This particular type of shoe has conflicting opinions from the public where some consider it uncool, bad style, and strictly for middle-aged men, while others define it as a unique trend with character and personality.

The public would confidently agree that Prada has succeeded in making these shoes trendy, and above all making them an attraction for young women. 

The return of boat shoes happened in conjunction with a big trend: "quiet luxury" and "preppy" style, the timeless style stemming from students of private Ivy Leagues. Preppy style, which had its golden years in the eighties, is characterized by trousers, polo shirts and sweaters in styles associated with Ralph Lauren, moccasins, and of course, boat shoes. Boat shoes once replaced the sneakers worn by men in high status and exclusive destinations. 

The creator of the first boat shoes is Paul Sperry. Grew up with his grandfather who was a ship builder, Sperry enjoyed sailing ever since he was a child. Then, in the thirties, he invented shoes that contained slip-proof traction on wet floors. These innovative shoes are also known as "deck shoes" because they have rubber soles to prevent sailors from slipping on the ship's deck. The upper class, who enjoyed sailing, soon fell in love with these shoes, and later the U.S. Navy adopted them as official boots. Boat shoes spread throughout Europe right after World War II, and made the preppy look more widespread than ever.

In 1979, Timberland demonstrated that boat shoes don't have to be worn only on board. They introduced casual boat shoes with white stitches and  lug soles. Boat shoes, which reached their peak success in the 80’s, and have since become a classic with an intellectual mood. Timberland is still releasing boat shoes with various designs and colors.

Today, boat shoes appear in every season of the Men's collection. They create an active and casual aesthetic. Of course, the shape was altered to become more trendy and elegant as the Men's collection moved to Ready-To-Wear. Miu Miu decorated the leather with an embossed logo or worked the leather with an intentional bleached effect to create a vintage mood. Bally's relatively unique front nose was created in the shape of a long, delicate curve as if it were a pump, adding to its feminine charm. Miu Miu's boat shoe model targets the preppy casual look, while Bally's attracts attention from office workers.


Miu Miu's Boat ShoesMen's Plume Leather Boat Shoes from Bally
Miu Miu (Left) / Bally (Right)


Loewe's creative director Jonathan Anderson also boosted the trend by posting a boat shoe with a wide, round front nose and flat design on his Instagram account. It is perfect for matching loose socks or leg warmers that fall on your ankles to add a preppy mood, or for wearing bare feet to create a cool sporty mood.


Boat shoes design from Loewe's creative director Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson's Instagram


Boat shoes add a touch of formality and a twist on a classic pair of sneakers. Now with boat shoes at the forefront of footwear in runway shows, their new designs and aesthetics might become an attraction once again. This won't be the last time a once hated trend will come back to the surface. Designers are constantly reimagining pieces of the past, and creating an innovative twist to classic styles.

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