How Vibram’s Mountaineering Soles Became A Staple Of Modern Sneakers

by MR Magazine Staff

Over the past 18 months, the world of menswear has been dominated by two overlapping trends: bulky, oversize footwear, and apparel that blurs the line between hyped-up streetwear and ultra-sturdy workwear. Call it the second wave of normcore. (Or maybe the first wave of utility-core?) Whatever it is, one thing is clear: The new vibe in menswear finds style in utility. And no brand seems to be benefiting more from this uptick in tactical gear than Vibram, an Italian company that has been producing top-of-the-line rubber soles since 1937. Today it’s become a favorite of well-dressed dudes and fashion designers alike. Whether it’s appearing on Alyx’s low-top hiking shoe, Our Legacy’s chunky running sneaker, or Margiela’s new steel-toe-capped trainer, the Vibram outsole is everywhere. “Vibram is timeless quality and function,” says Matthew Williams, the creative mind behind the rising New York label Alyx. At 32 years old, he can already count clients and collaborators like Kanye West, Nike, and Supreme and accolades like being named a finalist for the LVMH Young Prize for Young Fashion Designers. Williams uses Vibram soles in a number of his designs: the satin Low Hiking boot, the strappy low-cut Chef Daddy shoe, and the carefully weathered Washed Hiking boot. He recalls wearing Vibram climbing shoes as child, but his first “real” introduction to the Italian company came back in the late aughts, through a collaboration between Russell Moccasin and Nom de Guerre. “I bought it when I was very young. It was my favorite shoe,” says Williams. “I still wear [them] to this day, even ten years later.” Read more at GQ.