Over the last few years, outdoor brand Salomon has been unexpectedly embraced by a crowd that is far-removed and worlds apart from the French label’s genesis in Annecy, at the seat of Europe’s most renowned mountain range, the Alps.
Salomon has become one of the most-watched outliers at Paris Fashion Week, as technical hiking and mountaineering shoes have somehow found their place amongst Maison Margiela Tabis and limited collaborations. The brand became part of the conversation after being tapped by Parisian boutique The Broken Arm, which was co-founded by Romain Joste and Guillaume Steinmetz, who happen to be avid trail runners. Joste and Steinmetz admired Salomon for its balanced function and aesthetics, and had ambitions of collaborating on a Snowcross boot, which hit shelves in 2015.
While this was still perplexing to the fashion-tastemaker crowd, it took further collaborations with Boris Bidjan Saberi, plus a concerted ramp-up of Salomon’s in-line offerings, for the brand to gain an even more stable foothold in the world of limited sneakers, and in the e-pages of Highsnobiety. Within the same time frame, Salomon’s ascent in this new market has been in parallel with the rise of other technical brands like Nike ACG and ACRONYM, as well as other performance footwear rooted in hiking like those from adidas Terrex, Hoka One One, while fashion brands like Balenciaga and 1017 ALYX 9SM have also been channelling hiking cues into their designs.
Within Salomon, Jean-Philippe Lalonde has been working to close the gap between Annecy and the streets of Paris Fashion Week by spearheading new directional footwear projects, and new collaborations. Inside Salomon’s showroom at Paris Fashion Week SS20, where the brand debuted a new collaborations with Japanese designer Fumito Ganryu, we spoke with Lalonde about his role, and how Salomon footwear has been recontextualized in recent years.
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