Gadling Gear Review: Birks? Really? Yes

A long stint in central Europe (and residency in the crunchier regions of the Pacific Northwest) means that I don’t look twice at someone in big wooly socks and a pair of battered “Birks.” But I do not suggest them as a travel shoe; it’s a bit too much like recommending a pair of bedroom slippers. (Sorry, Birkenstock.)

There’s a spinoff line from the old standard – Birki’s – that have some broader utility and some cute new colors and styles. Setting aside any conversation about fashion for a minute (sorry again, Birkenstock), they’re really comfortable. They’re great for driving, for slapping down to the pool deck, for padding through the hotel lobby to get coffee, for that lunch stop at the roadside diner – they’re just easy for knocking around in. They’re shoes that feel like you’re on vacation – seriously.I got my last pair of Birks ten, maybe 15 years ago. They last a very long time. They’re now available in purple suede and fuchsia and lime green and a bunch of fun colors; they’re not just your natural leather anymore. There’s a new sport line (I checked out the Salina) – they’ve got a spongier foot bed and the uppers are water resistant. They’re pitched as a “recovery shoe” so if you’re off to do something sporty, it’s nice to leave a pair in the car for after your day on the trail.

But the style I’m totally digging is the Skipper, a slip on that’s got some lazy style. They’re great for airports and planes, easy to get in and out of, and comfortable for wearing for long hours. They’re made from a tough canvas and have a bit of a rough finish. They look and feel like your favorite old beat-up pair of shoes almost right away.

Traditional Birks set you back some bank; this line runs just a little more affordable. They list the Skipper for about $120.00 and the Salina for about $80.00. They make a great pair of comfortable knock about shoes that will serve you as well at the airport bar as on your walk to the swim-up bar and are a good addition to your travel wardrobe. I was surprised; I didn’t think they’d make the cut for more than taking out the garbage, but they’re great and I’m wearing mine for my next road trip.

Top 5 travel fashion trends for summer 2011

speedo fashion trends travel summerWith summer just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at what travelers will be wearing as temperatures rise and vacations abound. Before you know it, schools will be out, beaches will be packed and road trips will be in full effect. So, what are the hot fashion trends for tourists and travelers alike? We attended fashion shows from Milan to Albuquerque so that we could report back on the styles that will have everyone looking chic, sassy and, of course, functional as they hit the road for summer fun. Grab some sunscreen, a good book and your camera because we’re going to have you looking your best. These are the Top 5 travel fashion trends for summer 2011.

1. Mankinis
Long the style in Europe, swim briefs are ready to hit the shores of the good ol’ US of A. They dry fast, allow your thighs to breathe and their snug fit keeps sand away from all of your naughty bits. While most American men used to shy away from these skimpy briefs, sensibilities have changed over the years and the time has come smuggle those Yankee plums.

socks sandals travel fashion trends summer 20112. Socks & Sandals
For years, Germans have understood the secret to comfort during travel. Finally, however, their fashion-forward ways have caught on in the States. Sandals can cause blisters, awkward tan lines and injuries to exposed toes. By adding a sock layer between your feet and the sandals, you eliminate chafing, create one easy-to-manage tan line and protect yourself from injuries. Beyond that, a fashionable pair of socks can dress up any sandals when it’s time to transition into your evening affairs.

3. Fanny Packs
Whether you’re out for a day of sightseeing, on a hike or just hitting the hottest clubs, you’ll want your hands free to take pictures, keep your balance or grind with anonymous dance partners. Fanny packs (or bum bags to many of you) are convenient, practical and suit any fashion sense. There are rugged lumbar packs for hiking, exquisite designer fanny packs from Louis Vuitton for formal occasions and styles for everything in between. Your passport, money, hotel key and map will fit perfectly in a handsome fanny pack and you’ll turn any sidewalk into a fashion runway.

4. Shirts emblazoned with the name of the place you’re visiting
People love to get souvenirs but most of what we bring home is just schlock that takes up room in our homes. The most practical souvenir is the one that you can wear at any time – including during that very trip. That’s why fashionistas the world over are sporting stylish shirts purchased at airports, gift shops and amusement parks. Showing off logos and name brands is so passé. Today, it’s not about who you’re wearing, it’s about where you’ve been. Do you love NY? Then show it off! Been to DisneyWorld? Let the world know! Checked out the Anne Frank House? Good for you.

5. Everything that these ladies are wearing

travel fashion trends visor bathingsuit