Much has already been said about the casualization of men's fashion, especially in the office. It's impossible to flip through a Sunday supplement nowadays without catching a glimpse of at least one article evangelizing some form of the "new" business casual, from wearing designer sneakers in the boardroom to the end of office dress codes altogether. It's enough to make even the most reluctant Casual Friday participants trade in their loafers.  

But as a young person fortunate enough to grow up in this "casual revolution", these new office dress standards are simply - pun alert - business as usual. You still have to project effort and consideration (ex. your untucked oxford should be freshly laundered), but gone are the days of black suits in July heat. 

So when I got the news I'd be interning in New York City this summer at Luxottica, one of the world's foremost fashion and luxury firms, I had my work cut out for me. While the fashion industry is image-driven by definition, much has happened between now and The Devil Wears Prada. My office dresses "smart casual", but as the Luxury Department Store Sales Intern, I'd have to come prepared to look sharp in case of a client visit. Oh yeah, and then there's the weekends. I couldn't camp outside of NikeLab in broques anymore than I could go to Bergdorf's in runners. In other words: I had to do everything. So, on a May afternoon right before I left home, I got out my footwear collection and set to work. The task: how do I build a versatile, comfortable, and ultimately space-efficient (hello Village apartments) shoe rotation for 9-5 workdays and city exploration alike?

At the end of the day, I had my list. Two weeks in, I've worn every shoe at least once and received compliments both on and off the clock. Below, you'll find collection pictures, styling advice, and notes on why I chose each. I've also linked my past shoe reviews for each pair where applicable if you'd like to learn more.

Without further ado, here's the 8 pair rotation I needed for my summer as a fashion industry intern in New York City:

(left to right)  Top:  Common Projects BBall High/Nike SFB/Nike Flyknit Racer/LL Bean Signature Blucher Moc.  Bottom:  Greats Royale/Vans Sk8-Hi/Cole Haan Cambridge Wingtip/Nike Zoom Odyssey.

(left to right) Top: Common Projects BBall High/Nike SFB/Nike Flyknit Racer/LL Bean Signature Blucher Moc. Bottom: Greats Royale/Vans Sk8-Hi/Cole Haan Cambridge Wingtip/Nike Zoom Odyssey.

1. Common Project BBall High sneaker

My very own bonafide "dress sneaker." This handmade Italian high-top comes from New York's own Common Projects. Their luxurious, minimalist take on the Air Jordan 1 is shaped by the street, but crafted by the same artisans who make some of Italy's most famous dress shoes. To the uninitiated, this is a black leather boot with panel details and some gold numbers on the heel. Within the fashion world, however, Common Projects is so much more. I could wear these confidently to the office 9-5, then to a gallery opening that night without so much as a blink.

2. Nike SFB (Special Field Boot)

My all-weather workhorse. Nike's Special Field Boot is an AR-670 combat boot with a reinforced Free outsole. This combination provides ankle support, weather resistance, and maximum mobility on any terrain, all without sacrificing comfort. Lately, the SFB has even become a streetwear darling thanks to da gawd Shia LaBeouf. I wear these for mountain hiking, foul weather, and SoHo visits alike. That being said, they'll never see the workplace. Check out my full review here.

3. Nike Flyknit Racer

My favoritest shoe. The Flyknit Racer is an Olympic marathon shoe moonlighting as the coolest Nike shoe of the current era. With a two-tone "Orca" colorway, Zoom midsole, and ultralight construction, this is the F-15 of runners: featherweight, high-tech, and dressed to kill. This is my go-to sneaker for the weekends. Check out my review of the Flyknit Racer here.

4. LL Bean Signature Jackman Blucher Moc

My beautiful compromise. The Jackman Blucher Moc is a handstitched, Made in Maine moccasin shoe that's comfortable enough for a walk in the woods. It's also made of thick, premium leathers and open-laced with handsome boot strings. If you think it looks like an oxford boat shoe, you're not entirely wrong. It can - and should - be worn casually. I typically pair my Mocs with chinos and an oxford when I have to look presentable off the clock. Unlike your Sahara Leather Sperry 2-Eye Authentic Originals, however, there's no throat lacing and the pebbled sole means four season traction where smoother options fail. This is my business casual shoe of choice. 

5. Greats Royale

My two days out of seven. The Royale sneaker is Made in Italy luxury sneaker from Brooklyn's own Greats Brand, and is perhaps the best value in sneakers today. Simply put, it goes with everything. It's a minimalist white low-top I can wear from 9am Casual Friday through the end of the weekend. Best of all, it's less than half the price of the Common Projects equivalent. If only Greats made a triple black basketball shoe... regardless, this is my most-worn sneaker. Check out my review of the Greats Royale here.

6. Vans Sk8-Hi

My "cool kid" table stakes. I love my Royales, but got damn, are these sweet. The Vans Sk8-Hi is the rare high-top that can hold its own with shorts, and among the street style cogniscenti, holds a special significance straddling both grunge and fashion alike. Above all else, they're canvas: the material congruence alone makes these an excellent pairing with a t-shirt and jeans. I wear these at least once a weekend, especially if I'm downtown. Check out my review of the Vans Sk8-Hi here.  


7. Cole Haan Cambridge Wingtip

My dress shoe. I typically don't dress up past business casual, but when it's time to act remotely professional, these are top shelf. I chose a brown shoe to match both my grey suit and navy blazer, then scrolled through literally hundreds of candidates to find one with the right vamps, sole thickness, and level of broguing to match my budget. Sure, Alden makes a mean equivalent, but eating three meals a day is cool, too. I don't do much #menswear here so I'll likely never publish a full review of these, but for now, just enjoy the pictures. I wear these whenever I have to make an impression. 

8. Nike Zoom Odyssey

My workout shoe. After putting 400+ miles into a pair of adidas Supernova Glide 7's, I sought out a similarly-responsive runner but with a bit more stability for my overpronating step. I've only just started breaking these in, but with 5 boroughs and dozens of major parks all accessible by foot, I can't wait to burn NYC miles in these Nikes. I wear these when it's time to pretend I'm athletic, or maybe just when the weather could ruin my other pairs.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more from this summer's internship adventures as the program really gets moving in the weeks ahead.

What are you wearing this summer? What would you swap out if you were interning in a New York fashion business? Reach out either on here on the Facebook page and tell me what pair to buy next.


AS RAKESTRAW | The personal site of Alex Rakestraw.