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Street Talk: Boat Shoes

When it comes to their boat shoes, men shopping in New York are after fashion over function.

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Boat shoes have become a summer fashion mainstay in the men’s market. But are the nautical looks being embraced by landlubbers, or the many sailing enthusiasts?

Footwear News tracked down shoppers on the busy streets of New York’s Soho neighborhood to find out if boat shoes have become more than just a sailing necessity. While some guys said they wear their boaters for their intended purpose, the majority admitted they choose the look for its comfort, versatility and style.

1. Avery, 19
Residence: Manhattan
Wearing: Sperry Top-Sider
Fashion or function? Fashion. “They’re comfortable and I like the color. I can wear them without socks and not get blisters.”

2. Rob, 27
Residence: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wearing: Timberland
Fashion or function? Fashion. “My dog chewed up the leather laces, but I still wear them because they’re so comfortable.”

3. Vaughn, 22
Residence: Queens, N.Y.
Wearing: Ben Sherman
Fashion or function? Fashion. “I love Ben Sherman, and these are so easy [to wear].”

4. Tony, 72
Residence: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wearing: Sperry Top-Sider
Fashion or function? Function. “I buy my boat shoes at West Marine. I have three or four pairs of them to wear when I go boating.”

5. Kiel, 20
Residence: Manhattan
Wearing: John Varvatos
Fashion or function? Fashion. “I don’t go boating — [these are] purely for fashion.”

6. Ryan, 36
Residence: Manhattan
Wearing: Sebago
Fashion or function? Both. “I bought them at some old-man’s store down the street to wear sailing, but I wear them all the time now.”

7. Evan, 26
Residence: Connecticut
Brand: Sperry Top-Sider
Fashion or Function: Both. “These are my first pair, and I wear them everywhere.”
 
8. Ed, 38
Residence: Manhattan
Brand: J. Crew
Fashion vs. Function: Both. “I don’t slip while wearing these, so I would say about 90 percent fashion, 10 percent function.”
 
9. Aaron, 17
Residence: Dallas
Brand: Vans
Fashion vs. Function: Fashion. “[I bought these] definitely for the look.”
 
10. Zev, 22
Residence: “Native New Yorker, born and bred.”
Brand: John Varvatos
Fashion vs. Function: Both. “I’ll actually wear these to the boat and then I’ll change into shoes I don’t like as much.”

11. Tony, 24
Residence: Manhatttan
Brand: Sperry Top-Sider
Fashion or Function: Fashion. “I don’t go boating, but I went to the University of Florida, where boat shoes are a fashion statement. I moved to New York, and I still wear them.”