Menswear is often an afterthought in the world of fashion. And not surprisingly so considering how men are not applauded for their desire to spread their plumage like a peacock. (How ironic that it is the males that show their colors and put on a display in the avian world!) It is a courageous man who steps outside the societal norms to express himself. Not only is the weight of cultural opinion against him, but he faces the potential ridicule of his peers.
With these things in mind, I was having a discussion with a clog designer recently on how she might make clogs that would be more appealing to men. For some reason, here in the U. S. the style is seen as more of a woman's shoe. Which is odd when you think about it. There's nothing particularly dainty or prissy about the basic clog. Maybe it has something to do with the perceived vulnerability of an open heeled design. Or simply that women were the ones who responded most to the clog craze in the 1970s. My clog making friend and I talked about the different design touches that could transform a simple Swedish clog into something more masculine in its appeal. Was a more rugged look all that was needed? Or what about straps or buckles or other traditional shoe hardware? Would closed heel or clog boots styles be more appealing? It suddenly occurred to me: who better to put the question to than an assortment of male readers of this blog and then open it up to the rest of you for your insights and input. So for today's post, let's consider the question of clogs for men. What would you like to see on a guy's feet when it comes to clogs? What would you not want to see?
British Army High Boot Clogs--army boot upper on a wooden clog base--available through Denbigh Army Surplus
German Para boot--German army boots fitted with a clog sole--currently out of stock through Denbigh Army Surplus
Here's what a number of my male readers had to say. (I've color coded each contributor's responses. These opinions represent the views of men from three different continents.) Feel free to react via the Comments link below.
1. Do you favor open heel or closed back design?
Normally open heel. Work shoes? - Closed.
I would say open back.
Open-backed – but also with a back strap!
I prefer open heels. I like the way the clogs look and feel, of course, and the slip-on ease is wonderful (given my habit of sitting cross-legged, being able to take off my shoes easily is always a plus).
2. Do you prefer wooden midsoles that are light or dark...or stained black?
That really depends. But I do favor light stained wood.
Depends on leather colour - but generally I prefer dark soles.
Dark midsoles, black with black leather, brown with brown.
Definitely lighter. I have a pair of black-stained clogs that disguise the woodiness of the sole. However, black-stained is best for camouflaging clogs (heaven forbid!)
Since my personal colour palette starts and ends with black, with either grey or sanguinary colours in between, I lean towards dark woods and stains. However, I have seen clogs with light-coloured alder wood footbeds that I would gladly wear because the uppers look great and the alder wood provides a nice contrast.
3. Which of these upper materials would you prefer: Leather? Suede? Nubuck? Canvas? Denim?
I like leather, suede, and nubuck. Canvas/Denim not so much....
Leather for sure.
Only pure leather.
As an approximate vegan, I am wary of animal products. While I'm not closed to the idea of leather, I'd love to see clogs made from non-animal, non-plastic materials - it's just better for the environment all-around.
4. Are there any special design additions that turn you off? Strap over the instep? Strap and buckle? Cap toe? Two tone colors? Harness (such as on a traditional Dingo boot)? Fur trim? Faux laces?
Not a big fan of two-tone, depends on the style I guess....
No, I am open to any of these accessories.
Two tone, no. No fur or laces.
Two –tone, fur trim, and faux laces are no-no’s.
About the only addition that would turn me off from the get-go are fur trims and animal print designs.
5. Are there any that you would enjoy?
Steel or brass toe plate. Something rugged looking that gets better with age and wear.
Hmm, too many to mention - I like variety :-)
Cap toe, maybe. Straps or buckles could do it. Harness style is cool.
Yes! Straps, buckles and possibly a harness.
There's a fine line between the ornamental and the baroque, and while womenswear designers have no fear about skirting that line, let alone utterly obliterating it, menswear seems afraid to get within sight of it. Without crossing into the baroque, I would love to see designers have more fun with ornamentation.
6. Would you like a clog boot design more than a clog?
I do like both. Depending on the time of year, sheepskin lining & trim are major plus.
Not "more", but I would also like a nice clog boot design.
Clog over a boot for sure.
No, not more, but would appreciate having the choice –would love a pair –why not?
Without the ease that comes with wearing clogs, and with too much of a visual departure for my tastes from the clog look, I take the view that when I want a boot, I'll stick with my Corcoran field boots, and when I want a clog, than I'll stick with the shoe style.
7. How would you feel about clogs with lug soles?
Absolutely. Very masculine, like a work boot. Pratical too....
I prefer a thin rubber/plastic layer under the wood sole only (regular clog sole).
Lug soles would be cool.
Hate them – how would they SOUND??? There should be as little separation between the wood and the ground as possible!
I like them.
8. What would make a clog something you'd feel more likely to purchase and wear as a man?
I like the sound and wear of a wood base!
If it has a rough look, e.g. western or biker style.
I would say a substantial wood sole with more platform. Shaped more like a traditional clog, but stockier.
Brilliant marketing –celebrity endorsements by (say) football players, macho actors, etc. – not feeling like being the only guy on the planet wearing clogs.
If I were to sketch out a future direction for men's clog design, I would have to say that I would be most interested in clogs that are imaginative without flamboyance. The rest is marketing and showing men how clogs can work with their wardrobes and personal style.
Men clearly want and need men's clogs to look like men's shoes before they'll feel totally comfortable wearing them. And I find it heartening that there is indeed a market for men's clogs. It's just that the available supply isn't addressing their wishes and desires. Though as Frédérik Sisa, the blogger at The Fashionoclast suggested when I raised the subject with him,
My advice to men who might be interested in wearing clogs but are wary of looking "femme" is to consider that how one looks doesn't typically depend on a single accessory like footwear or jewelry. It's the overall look that counts, along with a good posture and a good dose of confidence.
What more can I add, but, "Here! Here!"
But what do you think? Weigh in via the Comments below and I'll follow up on your reactions in a future post.
[On my feet today: Had to run out to the western 'burbs on the day after a significant snowfall here, and my Lindsey clog boots from Multnomah Leather Shop were perfect for whatever walking surfaces I would have to encounter.]