In the roundtable of warm-weather footwear, the usual players include canvas sneakers, loafers, sandals and boat shoes. But a more recent trend might have you considering a new option: the mule.
What is a mule? Essentially, it’s a closed-toe slip-on shoe that’s backless. It’s a style that dates back to ancient Rome, though it didn’t come into vogue until the 1500s where, throughout Europe, it was mostly a bedroom slipper. If you have a pair of closed-toe house slippers, those are mules. The style would evolve and venture from the home to the street, with the addition of leather soles and heels.
Today, it’s a popular style in women’s fashion but has more recently made the circuit to menswear. Many an entry point for men’s mules has been Birkenstock’s iconic Boston shoe. Viberg and Feit had both introduced their high-end, streamlined versions of the summery shoe while funkier style enthusiasts clamored for Troentorp’s wooden clogs and even Crocs.
And it’s not just traditional shoemakers producing mules. Sneaker brands are also backing the backless loafer with mule versions of their classic shoes. Adidas just released its Stan Smith mule while brands like Superga, New Balance and Sperry have mules of their own. Vans reinterpreted its Authentic sneaker as a convertible mule years ago, leaning into the fact that many wearers would simply stamp the heel counter flat as an easy way to slip into the shoes. It might look like a half-baked idea, seeing a pair of tennis shoes missing an entire section (I’m not saying it’s not) but it’s just another way clothes have adapted to meet the consumer where they are. And in a time of quarantine, where the divide between work and home has crumbled, these sneaker-mule chimeras could be the succinct shoe of the moment.
Whether your style leans more chic, a bit hippie, or anywhere within, there’s a mule worth checking out. Here are a handful for you to slip into.
Boston by Birkenstock $145
Realtree Camo Clog by Crocs $35
Cotu by Superga $65
OG 43 LX by Vans Vault $69
Stan Smith Slip-On by Adidas $70
Chanclas by Sperry $100
Monet Bit by Needles x Troentorp ~$135
Mule by Viberg $520
Crog by Yuketen $550
Calf Raised-Sole Grained-Leather Mules by Guidi $723
Papillon Velvet Mule by Needles ~$349