I hate having zippers on my pants, but I love them on my shoes. My go-to causal footwear these days are side zips – an ankle height, usually plain toe style that features a zipper running up each of the medial sides. Without any of the straps, buckles, or elasticated gussets you’d find on jodhpurs or Chelseas, they have a sleeker and cleaner look. I like them for their slightly rockstar vibe, even if my life resembles any thing but.
The great thing about side zips is that, although they’re a little more interesting than traditional styles, they’re surprisingly versatile. The key is to pay attention to certain details. The cleaner, more minimalist versions have concealed zippers and thinner soles (although some have Cuban heels, I like mine to sit closer to the ground). You can find these from brands such as Robert Geller, Tom Ford, Story Et Fall, and Maison Margiela. Mine, pictured above and below in grey and black, are from Margiela. Note, to get that lower profile, the soles typically have to be glued on, rather than stitched. I don’t mind so much, but it does mean they can’t be resoled as many times.
These sorts of side zips pair well with contemporary brands such as Robert Geller, Stephen Schneider, and Lemaire. I like them with more casual pieces – a zippered cafe racer from Margiela, for example, or hooded coat from Stephan Schneider – but for a night out on the town, you can try them with a topcoat and some slim trousers. It’s a slightly dressier look, but one that feels laid back.
For something less dark and moody, check out Stoffa’s lookbooks. They pair them with brighter suede jackets and pleated pants (the shy pleat kind, like Ambrosi’s). It’s a classic-contemporary take on European style that I think sits better with guys who gravitate towards stores such as Magasin, rather than Totokaelo. Stoffa is great for these sort of clothes, as is Eidos.
If you want something a little more rugged, try a side zip with chunkier, exposed zippers or a heavier looking silhouette. These go well with more creative takes on workwear, such as what you’d get from Visvim and Kapital. You can find them from Nonnative, Unused, Armando Cabral, Belstaff, and (soon) Viberg. Mine, pictured below with the RRL cardigan and Lock & Co hat, are from Kapital. They’ve been overdyed with fermented persimmon juice to give them a slightly aged look. I like them as an interesting alternative to roper boots.
My favorite thing about side zips: they’re easy to put on, easy to slip off, and a great way to make any outfit feel a little more bad-ass. Maybe not for strict traditionalists, but great for anyone who’s considered wearing jodhpurs or Chelseas in a more contemporary way.