If you were to draw a Venn diagram with one circle labeled "fashion insiders" and the other "ultra runners," the first brand to come to mind must be Salomon. (The second may be District Vision, which for the record, released a truly perfect collab with Salomon in 2018.) From Kilimanjaro to front row (and on the runway) at Fashion Week, from Francois D'haene to Dev Hynes, Salomon holds secure footing on the unlikely ground where the style world has embraced technical sneakers, and the legendary French sportswear company's XT-6 is an excellent example of why.
First debuted in 2013, Salomon created the XT-6 for ultrarunners—extreme mountain athletes who take to the trail sometimes 50 miles at a time, and often with thousands of feet of elevation to climb. To help their bodies weather such a storm of activity, Salomon built the XT-6 with enough cushioning to handle more than a day's worth of trail terrain in a sleek, weather resistant design that's protective enough for the inevitable stumbles yet plenty lightweight to keep stride through sundown. Burly outsole lugs and Salomon’s instantly recognizable Quicklace system provide traction and security throughout, even on steep descents and brutal climbs.
None of this is why, in 2019, GQ named the XT-6 its Sneaker of the Year. But maybe, all of it is? After all, the best streetwear is functional too—there’s plenty of rough terrain, steep stairs, and testing weather in NYC—and a piece can’t reach iconic status if it isn’t consistent and reliable in its purpose.
More recently, Salomon’s fashion footwear dominance has only grown, taking on the maximalist sneaker market with the Predict Hike Mid GTX and hitting collab home runs like the And Wander XT-6 and Palace Speedcross 4, among many others.
People in cities were already wearing the Speedcross, a super-rugged runner with deep lugs for muddy, rocky trails. And the XT-6 has a similar aesthetic but more asphalt-friendly features that make it an ideal choice for wherever wear. What once surely felt counterintuitive, it’s the very technical, performance-first form of Salomon shoes that make them ideal candidates for high profile collaborations and the wild color updates that attract an increasingly GORP-obsessed audience.
With winter approaching, once again we begin to reach for our most functional items in the closet, regardless of where that closet may be. Thanks to Salomon, form need no longer be sacrificed for function.
The XT-6 is available in various unisex colorways for $190.