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An 80-Year Old Outdoor Company Is Getting Into the Sneaker Game

Columbia is best known for winter jackets and hiking boots, but its new SH/FT footwear release is geared toward urban use.

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Traditional sports companies as well as fashion and streetwear brands have caught onto something: outdoor gear is in style. And as Nike widens its trail-dedicated ACG line, fashion brands like Calvin Klein and Acne Studios are embracing outdoorsy looks (often with a nod to vintage gear). The gear companies themselves have taken note too. Columbia, a company with an 80-year heritage, is the latest example: it just announced a new line of footwear called SH/FT that blends on-trend urban styling with the tech specs you might find in a hiking boot.

The first SH/FT shoes are a far cry from the earth-toned, heavy-treaded hikers that Columbia is better known for. They come in mid- and low-top models, all of which colorfully blend mesh, leather and foam in a silhouette that calls to mind Adidas’s Yeezy Boosts quicker than Keen Targhees or Danner Mountain Lights. But the SH/FT do pack aspects of the functionality that you’d more closely associate with those latter shoes; its mesh upper is breathable but equipped with Columbia’s OutDry waterproofing, and its rubber outsole has trail-worthy lugs.

According to Columbia, SH/FT is a reaction not just to the increasing adoption of outdoor style by urbanites, but also to the rise of Millennials and Gen Xers who harbor a desire for versatile products that work for a range of activities and uses. The Grammy-winning DJ and producer Zedd is the face of the first SH/FT drop and one of Columbia’s early wear-testers. Zedd, who is on the road for roughly half the year, claims to be a light packer and mentioned that he often only travels with two pairs of shoes. For him, the SH/FT is ideal because he can wear it in transit and also on stage (where he might be jumping on those foam midsoles for 100 minutes or more).

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