A tale. Shortly before the ‘rona lockdown, I purchased a pair of Birkenstock Boston clogs from the internet, but they didn’t arrive at the Esquireim电竞官网- offices before the shutters came down and I never took receipt. Now god knows when I will get to see them. How can I feel such longing for something I never had? I feel like pure shit. I just want my clogs.
It was an impulse purchase, of sorts. I had been flirting with the idea for months, eyeing them through shop windows, on the feet of handsome, dog-laden couples; leering jealously at the self-assured jawn enthusiasts on Instagram who had taken the plunge already. How smug they must feel now, padding around their apartments in supreme, cork-soled comfort, chuckling at their prescience? Such shoe-hubris. (Such shoebris.) “Heck it,” I thought, “I’ve just been paid and I’m feeling absolutely good, so let’s take the plunge. It’s just clogs; I’m not buying a second-hand car.” Halcyon days. What might have been?
I could buy another pair and get them delivered to my bunker, of course, but that seems indulgent at a time when the nation needs to show collective restraint. And I already have some, even if they are inaccessible. Perhaps most stinkily, though, I’m now late to the trend. Ye gods! The clog epoch of modern civilisation is passing me by, but you should go on without me. Save yourself. Because have you seen how many good ones there on sale now?
One feels that this, like so many trends these days, likely began with Gucci. The backless versions of the brand’s horsebit loafers emerged in 2015 and were almost impossible to buy. It began in womenswear and slowly migrated into the men’s milieu, and the concept of the luxury slide has been evolving ever since. Now, that’s not to say that backless shoes didn’t exist before Alessandro Michele created them, but for men, in the modern era, I can’t think of a slidey shoe that style dudes adopted with such abandon before that.
Now the louche, Seventies sleekness is being usurped by an altogether heftier vibe. First it was the Birkenstocks, which have long been the reserve of hygge fanatics, carpenters and groovy mums, but are now being sported around the cooler boroughs of the fashion cities and, since ‘rona set in, the jawniest accounts on Instagram.
“Why I think it's become popular with people just like myself or new people in our ‘world’ is, I think, an extension of the ethos that was wrapped up in normcore,” Lawrence Schlossman (below), brand director of Grailed and co-host of the Throwing Fits podcast, tells me. im电竞官网-“This idea of the anti-fashion fashion-statement. As things become so logo-ed out and become this kind of luxe streetwear aesthetic that has seemingly dominated the market for a long time I think that, a couple of years ago, people were really drawn to the anti-fashion kind of fashion sentiment that was wrapped up in normcore.”
And where Birkenstocks have offered a normal and pleasingly inexpensive entry into the trend, luxury brands are joining in, too. Gucci – obviously – has created chunkier editions of its ‘mules’ in recent seasons, and the sector is bolstered by Alyx, Vetements, Dunhill, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Our Legacy and A Cold Wall. And many, many more.
im电竞官网-But in what might come as good news to the clogless, we may have reached the zenith.
JW Anderson recently launched a new edition of its ‘loafer mules’ in bonkers, multicolour felt, and garm enthusiasts the world wide have lost their minds. The design is achingly of-our-time; gender-neutral, unashamedly comfortable, Instagrammable, vaguely nostalgic and perfect for mooching around a house you’re not really allowed to leave. “I definitely think this is the event horizon,” says Schlossman. “We're definitely reaching a peak saturation moment. But what I always tell people is, here's the thing: as a clog wearer myself and someone who's were worn clogs for many years, like, who cares?”
Schlossman is one of the clog’s greatest advocates. He espouses their convenience, their offer of the chance to wear a natty sock and their pleasing detachment from what society deems as pretty. He also believes that there were clogs before 2020, and there will be clogs again. “The appeal of clogs has always been the function over form,” he says. “Just the extremely easy going slipping-on-slip-off, casual nature of the footwear, logistically speaking. Why everyone from chefs to gardeners to menswear lovers gravitate towards [the clog is] because it's just easy right across the board.”
im电竞官网-Schlossman explains that he builds his looks from the ground up. That is to say, he’ll pick what shoes he wants to wear that day, and then dress to accommodate said shoes. Recently, his Gucci mules have been bolstered by summer tailoring and a Drake’s cravat, and his white Birkenstock Bostons worn with pale, frayed denim and a tie-dye Stussy fleece. Clogs are as easy to style as they are to get on your feet, Schlossman says. You just need to follow the rules.
“You can’t wear skinny jeans and clogs. That’s nonsense. I’m wearing jeans and clogs, too, but it’s going to be a fuller cut, a quote-unquote ‘dad jean’.” And explore the opportunity to wear weird socks – something “unoffensive and fun” is part of it, says Schlossman – but don’t wear novelty socks; it’s not like adding a pop of “corny” colour to a suit.
im电竞官网-So, for those, like me, who must remain clogless for the foreseeable future, there is good news and bad news. The bad news being that yes, in terms of coolness, clogs are peaking. You’ve missed the boat. (It sucks, but luckily fashion is the port that keeps giving and there’ll be another boat along any minute.)
The good news is that clogs are for life, not just for lockdown. Though the opportunity for expensive, gently ironic fashion clogs has passed, you can still begin a lifetime friendship with a comfortable, sensible, workhorse of a shoe that will offer your feet a loving, ergonomic embrace whenever they need it. They are ‘mules’, after all.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more delivered straight to your inbox
Need some positivity right now? Subscribe to Esquire now for a hit of style, fitness, culture and advice from the experts