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Iconic wingtips stay in step with the times

New twists on classic shoes allow them to be paired with everything from tailored shorts to tuxedos.

Cole Haan Men's ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxford in Ironstone

Cole Haan Men's ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxford in Ironstone Knit, $180 at colehaan.com. Photo Credit: Cole Haan

With summer winding down, it will soon be time to put away the sandals and flip-flops and think about choosing your go-to shoes for fall.

For men who get their kicks from style, at least one pair of wingtips should top their must-have list, fashion authorities say. And ever-growing new twists on this classic offer looks for virtually every age, style and taste — allowing these shoes to be paired with everything from tailored shorts to tuxedos.

David Maddocks, Cole Haan’s chief marketing officer and general manager of business development, says that, particularly for dressier occasions, a wingtip can take an outfit to new heights.

“The wingtip is the essential men’s dress shoe,” Maddock says. “The style itself is timeless.” He points to the brand’s ZERØGRAND collection as an example of how this decades-old look has been kept in step with the present. “We went right after the world’s most recognized style to demonstrate how we could disrupt an industry and modernize an iconic, time-honored style with a unique combination of modernity and tradition.”

Wingtips fall into the “brogue” style category — a term that originated in Scotland and Ireland used to describe an outdoor, country walking shoe made of untanned hide that were worn mostly by men in the early 20th century.

Most brogues are made in one of four cap-toe styles — “wingtip” or full brogues, semi-brogues, quarter brogues and longwing brogues.

“The beauty of the wingtip is that the brogue design pairs perfectly on a dress shoe or a casual shoe,” says Eric Washington, CEO and founder of the Fayetteville, North Carolina-based Washington Apparel Co., which makes a handsome suede and leather wingtip boot. He adds, “In terms of dress shoes, the wingtip is the most decorated and least formal member of the family.”

Aztec and camouflage prints are among the custom wingtip designs made by the Waconia, Minnesota-based Greenwich Vintage that specializes in wingtips with soles in just about every color imaginable, including lavender.

The owner of the company, Tamas Pomazi, 49, says his exposure to wingtips came from growing up around his very stylish stepfather, Robert Rogers, who was general manager of The Custom Shop in Manhattan for many years.

“He was always suited and booted,” Pomazi says of the late Rogers. Pomazi says Rogers was his “inspiration” when he decided to make custom wingtips for Greenwich Vintage by transforming old, used wingtips from customers and other sources into new looks that give the wearer comfort as well as style.

Pomazi, who described himself as a “sneaker head” back in the day, says he wanted to make sure his wingtips looked and felt good after he wore a pair of Rogers’ “expensive” eel skin wingtips to a wedding and his feet killed him. Pomazi says the wingtips he makes are therefore “very sneakeresque” and attract young — and older — buyers.

“What’s happening now is the kids from the '90s are grown up now and they’re going to corporate America where they can’t wear Jordans or Adidas unless they’re running around in the mailroom,” Pomazi says.

Pomazi says the popularity of the wingtip is also part of the current “nostalgia” trend in fashion. He says that most of his customers are “between 25 and 35 years old, or pushing 45,” and they like the wingtip style, but don’t want something “cookie cutter.”

Washington says he believes the popularity of wingtips in both their traditional styles and reincarnations will continue to soar. “The wingtip will continue to transcend time because well-dressed people desire an equal balance of retrospective style and modern flair,” Washington says.

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