MILAN — Sneakers continued to be all over Milan, but brands were also experimenting with ankle boots and buckle shoes. Weekend bags, backpacks and totes came in the softest hides or had a technological spin with the use of nylon. Research and innovation were top of mind to stand out in an increasingly competitive arena.

The Jimmy Choo collection put the focus on technology and utility rather than the usual wild — and unique — patchwork of pattern, color and texture. Sandra Choi, the brand’s creative director, said she wanted to return to the essence of footwear, with shoes meant for movement.

“The primary reason we wear what we wear is for protection and functionality,” said Choi, adding that the collection was about the “visible interplay between the natural leathers and fabrics that are our raw ingredients and the craft, technology and skill that is used to assemble it. These are shoes that move you.”

The brand worked with a lightweight, wear-resistant micro-composite sole, creating styles including a boat shoe/sandal hybrid that can be worn as a slide or a sandal, and sock sneakers and espadrilles made from machine knitted fabric.

There were desert boots, too, made from natural vacchetta and adorned with transparent details, and slides with a safety-buckle detail at the front. Other models, such as espadrilles, had their very functional whipstitching laid bare.

Fans of the more flamboyant Jimmy Choo designs will just have to take a deep breath this season and find the beauty in their technologically advanced boots that are actually made for walking.

A desert suede boot from the Jimmy Choo men's spring 2019 collection.

A desert suede boot from the Jimmy Choo men’s spring 2019 collection.  Courtesy photo.

Zanellato did not veer from its understated style while updating designs and materials. Founder and creative director Franco Zanellato researched a technical nylon material, often flanked by exclusive hides in an all-black color palette “as a starting point,” he said, on weekend bags and backpacks. The brand’s staple Blandine pattern was seen on a canvas tote with a resin patina, and flanked by the softest napa or juxtaposed against raffia — perfect for the summer. A padded, down model was also a standout with a geometric design that formed the letter Z.

A Zanellato padded style backpack from the men's spring 2019 collection.

A Zanellato padded style backpack from the men’s spring 2019 collection.  Courtesy Photo.

Santoni’s double buckle shoes were hand colored and polished in a new palette including natural tones of green, or in suede with a soft and foldable heel. With woven trimmings on the vamp, the models couldn’t look more luxurious.

Santoni’s double buckled hand-painted shoes.  Courtesy photo.

Orciani further expanded its range of belts with the no-buckle belt that fit any waist or the beautiful hand-painted designs with references to the world of rock music or ethnic touches. The bags and backpacks were functional in the softest suede or hides juxtaposed with canvas, enriched with pockets galore.

Orciani’s no-buckle belt.  Courtesy photo.

Giuseppe Zanotti riffed off ready-to-wear and drew inspiration from fabrics a man might find in his closet. Sneakers were made from recycled jeans, canvas came rubber coated to resemble leather and elsewhere leathers were treated with distressing techniques borrowed from the denim industry. Slippers were done in pinstripes and silk jacquards.

A sneaker made of recycled jeans.  Courtesy photo.

Presented in an industrial space based on its factory construction line, Church’s showed new takes on its classics, such as a derby in soft white leather, loafers in Union Jack colors and a new suede and canvas interpretation of the Shanghai boot. It also unveiled a new briefcase line fashioned in the same classic leathers as the shoes.

The "Shanghai" boots from Church's men's spring 2019.

The Shanghai boots from Church’s men’s spring 2019.  Courtesy Photo.

At Car Shoe, a new capsule, dubbed The Unbranded Collection, is proof the label doesn’t take itself too seriously: Its signature driving shoe comes with the words “The Original Car Shoe — Patented in 1963,” screen printed in gold on the vamp. Elsewhere, suede Chelsea boots and moccasins got a sporty update with new runner-style shoes in contrast white.

Car Shoe signature shoes.  Courtesy photo.

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