Cole Haan’s ZEROØGRAND Oxfords Are Built for 10,000-Step Days

Don't fret the sneaker-shoe discourse. We're living in these things.

Cole Haan's ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxfords, which aren't exactly dress shoes, but a hybrid sneaker-shoe. Here's our full review.
Welcome to the era of hybrid shoes, whether you like it or not.
Cole Haan

Some of the most dedicated workweek walkers I’ve known like to keep a spare pair of shoes under their desk.

These designated walking shoes are meant to A) protect nicer shoes from wear and tear and B) hold their owners accountable. There’s no excuse: they’re well-equipped to sneak an extra 3,000 steps in over lunch.

If you’ve got a system like this, don’t disrupt it on account of me. But lately, I’ve been wearing a shoe that I think efficiently (and fashionably, believe it or not) streamlines this entire process: Cole Haan’s ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxfords.

What’s in a Wingtip?

Cole Haan is one of the leaders in a recent explosion of sneaker-shoes and dress sneakers, or hybrid shoes — footwear that employs typical dress-shoe silhouettes (with leather uppers to match), yet armed with the pillow-like footbeds and breathable tech of running or hiking sneakers.

The movement makes sense: offices were trending more casual well before the pandemic, and after years of WFH, many employees started favoring a dressed-down aesthetic, or, at least, a comfort level that allowed them to leave the house and complete an errand in a pinch.

But now that many U.S. employees have returned to the office, there’s a growing market for midway footwear and apparel. Cole Haan’s sneaker-shoes are similar in execution to the performance pants (from brands like Duer, Mack Weldon and Rhone) that look the part in a meeting, yet also offer four-way stretch.

Not everyone is extremely excited about this trend, by the way. Last year, The New York Times ran a piece titled “Do Dress Sneakers Belong in the Oval Office?” And X’s resident menswear commentator, Derek Guy, tweeted, “Dress sneakers are bad bc they’re neither here nor there. Commit to a look — formal or casual. They are also just another step in this slow slide toward a business casual aesthetic that doesn’t have the flattering effect of tailoring or the expression possible in casualwear.”

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Why We Love Them

The murky rules of menswear aside, I think there’s opportunity in this micro-revolution for more active days. If you’ve followed InsideHook’s fitness beat (or subscribe to our wellness newsletter, The Charge), you know we’re endlessly going on about the importance of walking: Why it’s important to walk after eating, why it’s beneficial to walk quickly on your commute, etc.

Hybrid shoes are perfect for this purpose. And Cole Haan’s ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxfords are ideally suited for the task — the brand used to be owned by Nike, and earlier iterations of its plush wingtips included Nike’s Lunarlon foam technology. After the brands parted ways, Cole Haan developed its own system, ZERØGRAND. The remastered version of the technology is an EVA midsole made with 25% dandelion rubber.

You can head here to read more about the specs, if the spirit moves you. It’s mostly fluff to me. What I can tell you, confidently, is that I’ve tested these shoes on my typical Central Park loop and returned very impressed. The balance is spot-on, the traction is excellent and the broguing is mud-resistant. Five stars, zero blisters.

After a long day last week, I got home to find a heavy package at the bottom of my fifth-floor walkup (new desk). It was the wingtips’ final test of the day, and they delivered, offering a stable base as I went full functional fitness. I can’t say I’d have ever dared lift that much weight up flights of stairs in a pair of typical dress shoes.

On the fashion side, I’ll say this: Cole Haan has leaned into this shoe’s versatility by offering some wacky color combinations. I’m not personally a fan of permutations like Tornado Gray-Cloud Blue, but I won’t fault you for adding it to cart. I favor the black, which has the easiest job of performing undercover.

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