The Hottest Men’s Shoes & Boots Trends For 2023
From throwback military boots and chunky soles to new takes on the loafer and deck shoe, here's how to get on the front foot this year.
There are no two ways about it, fashion trends are difficult to keep up with. Unless you’ve got your finger on the pulse and pay attention to the runway shows each season, chances are you’ll constantly be chasing them, struggling to keep up with the never-ending cycle.
Luckily for us, footwear trends tend to move a bit slower. That might be because there’s only so much you can do with shoes; deviating too far from the tried-and-tested designs can quickly make them unwearable. It could also have something to do with the fact that proper leather shoes are designed to last, unlike the often disposable world of fast fashion. Either way, neither we nor our bank balance is complaining.
Whether you’re looking to freshen up your shoe rack or simply inject a bit of life into your seasonal attire, these are biggest footwear trends for 2023. From chunkier silhouettes to all-black colourways, here’s how to get on the front foot.
Chunky rubber soles are nothing new. They’ve been utilised in functional, outdoorsy silhouettes forever – think commando soles on military boots and Vibram versions on hikers – due to their rugged durability and grippy qualities which keep the wearer surefooted no matter the terrain.
For a number of years brands have been bolting them onto Derby shoes too, creating designs that retain an element of smartness but offer a practical upgrade over their thin, leather-soled counterparts. However, for 2023 chunky soles are everywhere – found on everything from penny loafers to desert boots.
Much like with Derbies, a thicker sole makes these classic shapes look much more contemporary. Try a penny loafer with a commando sole, for example, to bring a modern twist to your prep-inspired outfits, or a thick rubber-soled boat shoe (see below) to add an edge to your summer attire.
The loafer, evolved
Often overlooked in favour of laced designs, loafers don’t tend to get the love they deserve. These multifaceted slip-ons are comfortable, easy to style and will inject an instant dose of relaxed cool to a wide variety of looks.
From substantial commando sole takes (see above) to soft suede Belgian designs, there has never been more variety when it comes to this perennial summer shoe. But for 2023 a number of brands are going even further, subtly tweaking classic loafer shape and helping breathe new life into this underrated genre.
There’s new takes on the penny, with leather uppers combined with woven fabric vamps; loafer/espadrille crossovers that make use of vibrant coloured suede; and timeless silhouettes updated with lightweight crepe soles that make them even more comfortable to wear for extended periods.
If you’re going to invest in just a single shoe trend from this list, it’s this one.
The deck shoe, reinvented
The canvas deck shoe is the sneaker in its most humble form. Originally invented in 1935, specifically for use on boats, its simple design is traditionally made up of an undyed canvas upper attached to a siped rubber sole, which gives it the extra grip required when navigating the deck of a ship.
Practical and durable, deck shoes could withstand plenty of abuse and performed purely as functional footwear, with little adornment or extraneous detailing. Due to this, they were typically only worn by those who required such a shoe – until Vans came around. The Californian brand began producing its own takes on the style in the 60s, adding subtle branding and eventually marketing them to skaters.
The original style has remained incredibly popular since but is undergoing somewhat of a transformation as late. While the traditional, low-profile silhouette remains, brands are again experimenting the sole and fabrications.
For summer 2023, keep an eye out for chunky-soled versions, which offer an edgier, fashion-forward look that’s ideal for wearing with jeans or wide-legged chinos and a hoodie for that new prep aesthetic. Elsewhere, more luxurious takes are being crafted from soft suede, nubuck and leather, which are great for dressing up with unstructured tailoring.
Black leather shoes have long been chastised as boring. Perhaps because of their connotations with school uniform and corporate boardrooms, or the fact they’re the de facto choice for funerals.
But, depending on the shoe, black is an incredibly versatile option, and one that deserves real consideration. The trick is to avoid formal styles such as Oxfords and dress slippers and instead seek out more relaxed silhouettes like chunky Derbies, driving shoes and rubber-soled loafers.
Pay attention to the leather itself, too: swerve high-shine hides and opt for matte, textured options like tumbled, roughout and durable suede, which tones down the formality of black and makes it infinitely more wearable for a wide variety of occasions.
For example, consider a pair of Dr. Martens in washed black nubuck – these will work with raw denim jeans and a T-shirt, but look equally cool with a navy unstructured suit and knitted polo. They can be dressed down on the weekend and worn all year round, but can also be your daily office shoe if required.
After years of men playing dress-up – combining advanced tactical boots with things like utility vests and combat pants, a look pushed in streetwear circles by rappers such as Drake and Stormzy – for 2023 a more wearable take on military attire has advanced to the front line.
When it comes to footwear, the best military boots today boast a throwback WWII-era feel – think above-ankle Derby silhouettes crafted from waxed leather with double soles. These clean, minimal designs are not only able to withstand anything you can throw at them, but will slot straight into your fall/winter wardrobe, working with everything from jeans to chinos to suit trousers.
For extra style points, wear them with things like sleek tailored cargo pants, luxurious suede bomber jackets and lightweight linen field jackets to create outfits that reference their military heritage in a contemporary way, without looking like you’re playing soldiers.
This isn’t so much a ‘shoe trend’ as a ‘how to wear your shoes’ trend. Traditionally within menswear, it’s been dictated to us that smart shoes should be worn with smart clothing, while sneakers should be worn with equally relaxed clothing. Yet this is far too restricting. Some of the coolest, most interesting outfits combine casual pieces with more formal clothing, resulting in an interesting contrast that often looks far better than if you restrict yourself to one end of the spectrum.
Take your favourite pair of kicks, for example: instead of dressing them down completely, try adding a couple of typically smart casual pieces into the mix. Wear them with some tailored chinos – rolled at the hems – a hoodie, chore jacket and baseball cap for a look that combines the best of tailoring (in the trousers), workwear (the chore jacket), and the casual garments you’d typically wear with sneakers (hoodie and baseball cap).
Alternatively, try wearing penny loafers with light-wash jeans, a logo tee and waxed jacket for an unusual mix of sharp and laid-back attire.