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Pebble-Grain Shoes Are Menswear’s Latest Subtle Power Move

Time to consider texture.
Doc Martens X Engineered Garments Monkey Church Contrast Monkey Boot ($259)

Doc Martens X Engineered Garments Monkey Church Contrast Monkey Boot ($259)

Source: Dr. Martens

While women’s fashion lives and dies by large swings of the pendulum—hems sweep floors, then barely graze knees; one season, stilettos are all the rage, and the next, it’s sandals—menswear is a much subtler affair. For proof, one may merely look at the finely drawn details that pass for a style revolution in the world of men’s shoe design. 

Take, for example, the recent, barely perceptible trend that’s making big waves below the ankle: classic footwear silhouettes made from pebble-grain leathers, in which treated cow hides are embossed or pressed to give a raised, bumpy finish, either to camouflage imperfections in the material or purely for stylistic purposes. The subtle swap instantly imbues traditional lace-ups, slip-ons, and boots with a textured, slightly rustic look—somehow simultaneously casual and refined. Brands ranging from staunch traditionalists (Church’s and Salvatore Ferragamo) to swaggering trend-chasers (Gucci and Dries Van Noten) are standing behind the look.