Five years ago, the cult-loved Parisian retailer The Broken Arm teamed up with the Italian mountaineering label Salomon on a pair of ultra-functional, high-top sneakers. The shoe, a technical style designed for snow sports, was remixed ever so slightly to make it suitable for everyday wear—and then dressed up with hype-worthy flare. The bold orange accent at the heel made it look more like a limited-edition Nike designed by Errolson Hugh than something you’d see trudging through the snow. Sneakerheads and menswear fanatics went wild. A few years later, the duo released another bonafide smash in the form of a rainbow-colored XT-4. Now, The Broken Arm and Salomon are back again with a sneaker that feels even more tech-forward than any previous collabs.
Even without the co-sign from a cool French shop, the stock of Salomon sneakers has been rising steadlily for years. If you’re wondering why a large majority of today’s coolest sneakers look straight off the trail, you can trace that back to Salomon. (And Nike ACG, too.) You don’t get the Demna Gvasalia-designed Balenciaga Track sneaker without The Broken Arm helping thrust Salomon into the fashion ecosphere years back. So it’s nice to see the two parties reunite again.
The collaborative XA-Alpine combines khaki and black materials into a sleek, weatherproof shoe that still feels pretty fashion-forward. A protective gaiter keeps away water and debris, but can stay open when you want more breathability in dry conditions. And like most of Salomon’s offerings, the shoe comes outfitted with a tough-as-nails sole that features varied lugs so it can take on snow, mud, or rocks with ease. (Something tells us it can handle a coffee run or stroll in the park just fine, too.)
A few years back, an outdoor sneaker like this one—I mean, it has a built-in gaiter— might have been too technical for the fashion crowd. But, the limit for how rugged a sneaker can be continues to move: the more tech-heavy, the better. Just last month, New Balance, Snow Peak, and Tokyo Design Studio teamed up on a pair of kicks designed for outdoor fishing that managed to win over the hearts of sneakerheads everywhere. Give it a few more years, and we all might be wearing footwear fit for climbing Mount Everest.