The Ganni x Levi's rental-only capsule

They’ll travel in droves by bike and on foot. When offices and schools reopen over the course of this fall and winter, a cohort of urban commuters will journey to work above ground — avoiding overcrowded subways in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

These commutes — more physically taxing than riding aboard a train or bus — will have an undeniable effect on the way many city-dwellers dress, from warm layers to roomier handbags to carry a day’s worth of provisions. One hero style in particular could take precedence in the wardrobes of this new COVID-19 landscape.

Enter the commuter shoe — shaping up to be a standby in the COVID-19 workplace economy. Early indications from an NPD Group study released in July show that performance footwear is outperforming other categories in the sector. Commuter shoe styles, like fun sneakers and sturdy boots, have already long taken hold in Scandinavian cities like Copenhagen, where bicycle commuter traffic outnumbers cars on the streets. Homegrown brands like Ganni and Saks Potts have put out styles that answer dual calls of high fashion and function.

Now New Yorkers could usher in the next wave of this emerging category of shoe. Regarded for their ability to meld a sharp street sensibility with louche comfort, the city’s fashion-focused residents are already showing interest in commuter shoe-type styles. Before the weather has even turned cold, vintage stores and resale sites have begun quickly selling through archival Prada and Prada Sport styles with Vibram performance lug soles.