ROA is an Italian hiking brand with a focus on producing modern and progressive designs that don’t betray their number one goal: function. That is, function over everything. If it looks good but doesn’t work, what’s the point?
“Functionality is our top priority in developing our shoes,” declared ROA to Highsnobiety several years ago. “We try to make them as attractive as we can for everyday use, in any environment. Our aim is to help citizens of the world to conquer all the trails, peaks and streets in style.”
Since then, ROA has gone from strength to strength. These Teri Hiking Sneakers let their neoprene upper and central zip do all the design work, feeling both minimalist and futuristic at the same time.
Neoprene, or as it was first manufactured, DuPrene, was used consistently in the Second World War as the world’s first successful synthetic rubber. It eventually found its way into wetsuits and later on, shoes. Several designers wrestled with the idea that a foot-hugging shoe could be made of pure neoprene – imagine a mold of the foot – but these ideas were largely abandoned. The first commercial release of any real weight was Tinker Hatfield’s 1991 Air Huarache, which featured neoprene uppers. From then on, the entire ACG department went neoprene crazy.
The same is true for central zips. By no means new, ACG pioneered their use from early on in the 90’s, and Reebok’s recent Zig 3D Hydro Storm received universal acclaim for its tent-based central fasten design.
Despite the semi-success of Reebok’s Hydro Storm, this ROA Teri Hiking Sneaker feels a lot more effortless. It’s far from a moon boot, but it does look like you’d wear it in space. It’s the sort of slick shoe that Ryan Gosling might’ve worn in Blade Runner 2049; one neoprene foot on a dust covered Martian mountain, the other on the face of neo-capitalist technocrat. There’s something radically appealing about that.
The ROA Teri’s are on discount at John Anthony right now, along with a more extensive and less futuristic range.