In Prada’s Spring/Summer 2020 menswear campaign, unveiled back in January, Channel Orange superstar Frank Ocean is pictured wearing not only one of the season’s hottest button-down collar Oxford shirt and bolo tie combos, but he’s also sporting a pair of black leather boots that look as though they’d come in useful on the swampy section of a Tough Mudder course.
Ankle height and finished not only with one of Prada’s iconic triangular metal logo plaques but also a pair of ultra-heavy-tread black foam soles, the boots – which first trod ground on the Milanese super brand’s Shanghai runway last June – are as hardwearing and functional as they are aggro and Berghain-ready.
And though Miuccia Prada has her nose pressed firmly to the fashion vanguard season after season, the style of boot she showed is in fact a high-fashion reimagining of the heavy-duty commando-sole boots worn by action men the world over since the early 20th century.
It was Italian climber Vitale Bramani, who, after losing a number of friends in climbing accidents, introduced the tractor tire sole we now know now as “commando” in 1937. Boots with commando soles went on to be worn by hikers and soldiers alike, so practical was Bramani’s design.
So though Prada’s exaggerated commando-sole boots may look all moody and high-fashion insider-y on Ocean (Jaden Smith and Insta star Rickey Thompson have also been spotted wearing commando-style boots of late), they do in fact, as with all good things in the world of menswear, come imbued with that heady blend of heritage and high functionality – a trait which means they’ll last well beyond their solo seasonal shelf life.
It’s not only Mrs P who’s been getting in on the commando action, either. At Church’s, the English shoe brand’s loafers have been fitted with heavy-duty commando soles for the Spring/Summer 2020 season, while at Gucci, the Florentine label’s classic horsebit loafers have been reimagined on chunky-monkey soles, which you could just as easily wear on the streets of Milano as on a sortie.
Here, we’ve picked five of the best, whatever your style...
Loafers by Church’s, $600 at church-footwear.com
Boots by Prada, $965 at prada.com
The loafer boots
Loafers by Gucci, $802 at gucci.com
Shoes by Givenchy, $1011 at mrporter.com
The trainer hybrids
Trainers by Alexander McQueen, $639 at matchesfashion.com