With these Italian-made hiking shoes, beauty lies in functionality.
Menswear has caught the camping bug—and not the kind that’ll keep you up at night scratching your legs. Fanny packs have seemingly become the new wallets overnight, kicking the stigma of “murses” along the way. Fleece is everywhere. And ugly sneakers are in—and there’s nothing uglier than a hiking shoe. Everybody’s doing it: at the lower end of the spectrum, labels like Patagonia, North Face, and Salomon have never been more popular, while high fashion brands like Alyx and Prada are also feeling the technical outerwear and hiking shoe craze. But when it comes to the hiking-inspired sneakers that occupy the vanishingly thin Venn diagram section between “available at Dick’s Sporting Goods” and “extremely popping on Instagram,”there’s no brand doing it better right now than ROA. You’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of ROA—an Italian brand that proclaims it’s “for mountain enthusiasts, rooted in passion and search for beauty.” Which is music to our ears: they’re approaching boots you wear to climb rocks with the same passion and language that Italian suit makers have been using forever.
And though ROA has a full line of hiking boots and sneakers, info on who founded it or when is hard to come by. (The only thing better than ultra-techy hiking sneakers? Mysterious ultra-techy hiking sneakers.) Here’s what we do know: like Alyx, the white-hot label from sometimes-Kanye West-collaborator Matthew Williams, ROA has an affiliation with Slam Jam Socialism, a store and production company based in Milan. So when Williams decided to make a hiking boot of his own, he tapped the experienced Italians for a collaboration late last year. Williams took ROA’s signature silhouette and Vibram sole, then took it up a notch with a distressed leather upper and new colorways. His added flare also drove up the price—but while an Alyx sneaker made by ROA will run you over $600, the brand’s own “Oblique Rippy” style (the one you see here) is available for under $300. Fine Italian craftsmanship, on-point styling, and an extra-hyped cosign, all for three bills? Not a bargain, but pretty damn hard to pass up.
In a menswear universe that moves by the day in a more practical direction, turning clothes that provide value, function, and timeless style into legit grails, ROA stands out. Though the brand is new, the logo looks like what you’d find a vintage pair of boots. The label dabbles in color pops, but for the most part traffics in the hues that have made hiking shoes so cool for decades—whether it’s the forest green you see here or one of the brand’s tan kudu leather styles with red laces. And this pair’s durable, weather-resistant ripstop upper and oversized mudguard will help you flex in the city—and stay dry, should you ever choose to leave. Listen: you always could go hit up your local outdoor supplier and scoop up some overbaked, neon-accented hiking boots on the low. But if you’re willing to spend just a little more, know that ROA’s “Oblique Rippy” sneakers will get you to wear you’re going, both style-wise and on whatever mountains life throws at you.
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