With the continual graying-in of the boundaries between fashion and outdoor gear, we no longer live in a world where style and function are mutually exclusive. Perhaps no brand has benefited from and learned to harness this development more so than The North Face, which might release a technical layer for mountaineering only to see hip-hop stars adopt it as daily wear. The style appeal of a pair of new shoes released by TNF’s Japanese branch isn’t accidental, though.
Called the Velocity Knit, the laceless slip-on shoes come in low- and high-ankle profiles and muted hues of tan, black and grey. The nondescript shoes come with a surprising – and hidden – degree of functionality, starting with their trail-ready Vibram rubber soles. The unadorned knit upper belies the Velocity Knit’s other functional keystone: a waterproof Gore-Tex liner.
Depending on your set of references, the high model might call to mind either wetsuit booties or Chelsea boots, the low a pair of Merrells or Allbirds. But while the boundaries that separate product categories may be fading, geographical lines remain. Those are the ones that might prevent you from getting your feet in a pair of Velocity Knits, which are currently only available in Japan.
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