These Retro Deck Shoes Restored My Faith in Sneakers


Looking for more deck shoes, or a different pair of easy-going spring kicks? Start here.


For years, I’ve tried to dress like the guys venerated in certain corners of the menswear internet: soft, weathered tees, stiff, rugged denim, faded leather belts, and, above all else, hard-bottom shoes. If only, I’d wistfully think to myself, slipping into another pair of sneakers. If only.

A few fortnights away from 30, though, I’ve finally come to my senses: I have lots of boots, plenty of loafers, and my fair share of funky in-betweeners, but I’ll never stop wearing sneakers. An innocuous enough statement, to be sure—unless you spend any time in the neighborhoods of the web I frequent. On those blogs, forums, and subreddits, the idea of a post-sneaker society—a blister-free utopia where boots don’t torture your feet, and loafers don’t burn through your heels—is all-but-imminent. To which I say: hogwash. A post-sneaker society isn’t real, and probably never will be, for one simple reason: sneakers are too damn comfortable.

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Photos courtesy of Evan Malachsoky

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If you’re wholly committed to your objectively painful shoes, consider just how many sneakers exist before jumping down my throat. Ignore the cursedly algorithmic joints favored by tech bros and LinkedIn “thought leaders”. Swipe past the splashy, ankle-cradling kicks Adam Sandler wears on the regular. You can even skip past the retro Jordans Seinfeld used to favor, too—the sneakers I’m talking about here, and the ones I plan on wearing into the ground this summer, are a heckuva lot older. They come from the Japanese brand Moonstar, which has been cranking out handsome vulcanized-rubber kicks in one way or another since 1873, straight from the rubber industry hotspot of Kurume.

Moonstar isn’t exactly a household name, but the deck shoes it released a few months ago in collaboration with California’s Buck Mason are as classic as it gets. The silhouette traces its roots to the ‘40s, a faithful homage to the US Navy-issued version guys like Paul Newman swore by. (Back then they were made by Sperry, when the brand was owned by one-time footwear pioneer US Rubber Co.) Not to get all “reject modernity” on you hard-bottom devotees, but isn’t an undying appreciation for the classics your whole shtick?

Buck Mason

Herringbone Moonstar Deck Shoe

Buck Mason

Herringbone Moonstar Deck Shoe

Unlike those hard-bottoms, though, Moonstar’s deck shoes are so comfortable I’ve been wearing them with just about everything this season—and I’m cursed with the widest, flattest feet I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t hurt that the few tweaks Buck Mason did make to the silhouette, like swapping the usual plain uppers for a dressier herringbone twill, serve to make it far more versatile than pedestrian canvas beaters. The twill here is softer and more ornate than it has any right to be, but it’s also a lot more sophisticated, which has made it easy for me to sub them in for loafers, Oxfords, and huaraches—and wear ‘em with an overshirt and jeans, or just a simple tee and shorts.

If you’re reading this blissfully unaware of the forces conspiring to separate you from your favorite kicks, you’re probably sold on these already. But if you’re a forum-roving menswear buff with more hard-bottoms than close friends, allow me to pose two simple, earnest questions: 1) Who hurt you? and 2) Given the chance to harness the retro cool of the exact mood board stalwarts you venerate, wouldn’t you rather be comfortable, too?

Sneakers, my long-suffering friends, aren’t going anywhere—not in the society I live in, at least.

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Photos courtesy of Evan Malachsoky

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