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10 Years of Salomon XT-6: From the Trails to the Streets

Salomon celebrates the 10th anniversary of a legendary trail running shoe and, now, fashion icon like the XT-6. Discover how the silhouette took over the streets and the fashion world starting from the trails.
Salomon XT-6
Image via GQ

How many things happened in 10 years? Wireless headphones are the norm. You can buy a house in the metaverse. Runners TikTok influencers exist. You are more likely to spot a pair of Salomon XT-6 at the Starbucks down the road than on your local trail.

The time has come. The Salomon XT-6 celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023. The French brand pays its homages to the silhouette that made it what it is now: a fashion brand. The XT-6 10Y releases this week in top-tier fashion retailers where the brand is sold together with the Guccis of this world. The shoe comes in the iconic fiery red, which recalls the original prototypes worn by Salomon's top athletes when testing the new model before release, which brings us back to the past when Killian Jornet and Francois D’Haene were battling for the title of the best trail runner in the world wearing the XT-6 - a rivalry that still goes on in 2023.

Francois D'Haene Salomon XT6
Francois D'Haene wearing the XT-6. Image via Salomon

The Salomon XT-6 is a direct emanation of the Salomon Wings, the dynasty created by Patrick Leigh, in charge of Salomon’s service-to-athletes program in footwear at the time. The XT-6 is the final evolution of the previous models, from 1 to 5, drawn by Benjamin Grenet, Salomon’s Lead Designer for Footwear. The XT-6 is a light trail running shoe perfect to explore soft trails and that will last for a long. The sole provides a lot of grips improving its versatility. Even though in 2023 is very hard to find a shoe review on Youtube that focuses on trail running and not on how to style the XT-6 was initially born as the ultimate performance shoe.

It was a good compromise between stability, protection, and performance, making it the best shoe for ultra-trail running! Francois D’Haene, Elite ultra and mountain runner

How much it was praised for its functionality, and the cutting-edge design made it more fashionable than any other trail running shoe. The strong colors adopted at the start, red, black, and white, were muted into pastel tones as the years passed and the silhouette fell under the S/LAB umbrella. The change in colors and the countless iterations are what made the shoe perfect for any outfit on the streets.

Salomon XT-6 Gore-Tex KITH
Salomon XT-6 Gore-Tex KITH Campaign

Athletes running fast and a catchy design was not enough to generate the global phenomena we are seeing right now. In this sense, everything started in 2015 with the Parisian store, The Broken Arm, and a limited edition of the Snowcross. From that moment, Salomon entered the fashion industry. The performance brand played very well in the years after working with a curated selection of partners, ranging from the XT silhouettes to ACS Pro and Cross Low. Now, we will try to prove the goodness of the Salomon marketing and product teams' work by naming all the partners - in no specific order - which put their hands on a Salomon shoe: The Broken Arm, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Palace, KITH, Slam Jam, MM6 Maison Margiela, Beams, and Wander, COMME des GARÇONS, GR10K, Dover Street Market, L’Art de l’Automobile, Carhartt WIP, Pas Normal Studios, Wood Wood, Hidden NY, Bodega, END. Clothing. We hope we haven’t missed anyone.

Salomon XT-6 10Y Fiery Red
The Salomon XT-6 10Y Fiery Red are limited to 804 pairs with a unique serial number on each shoe. Image via Up There

The XT-6 is our showstopper, it’s the shoe that put us on the map. George Egan, Salomon North America Director of Sportstyle

The first high-end collaborations and the design put the brand and the XT-6 on the fashion radar and in the right place when the Gorpcore era started a few years after 2015. The XT-6 transitioned from the trails to streets and from performance to Sportstyle, while its role of go-to performance shoe was taken from other Salomon silhouettes with new technologies. The XT-6 became the item carrying the Sportstyle business unit’s growth, which has been doubling its sales targets each year recently. The XT-6 was also nominated as sneaker of the year in 2019 by GQ - not bad for your favorite trail running shoe. Even on Salomon’s website, the XT-6 now sits under the Sportstyle category - the days on the trails are long gone.

If Ryan Sandes ran Leadville 100 and the Fish River Canyon in a pair of XT-6s, nowadays the XT-6s are nowhere close to the starting line of a trail race. We are used to seeing them every else: runaways, fashion week street style recaps, on the tube, at the office. At this point, it is worthless stating that celebrities embraced the Salomon functionality as much as they could, from Emily Ratkaoiski and Bella Hadid to Pusha T and Dev Hynes. The peak for Salomon arrived at this year's Super Bowl’s Half Time Show where Rihanna wore a pair of Maison Margiela MM6 x Salomon Cross Low. The Internet went crazy for high-end collaboration and Salomon fostered its role in the fashion industry even more. According to the sneakers resale marketplace StockX, Salomon was the fastest-growing brand on the platform in 2022 growing by 2,277%.

We’re not putting guardrails around what Sportstyle is. We’re not trying to shy away from our performance heritage, but we’re also letting consumers know of the performance benefits in your daily life. George Egan, Salomon North America director of Sportstyle

The Rihanna moment felt like the end of a journey that started in 2012 when the XT-6 was born, 10 years during which Salomon conquered the trails and then the streets remaining true to its performance nature. The French brand is still one of the big guys in trail running, with the best athletes and producing top-class gear. The product remained true to its nature featuring high-quality materials like Gore-Tex uppers embracing the streets without being elitarian towards generalist consumers wearing the XT-6 during their coffee walks on the weekend. But if you think you were a trendsetter when you wore the XT-6 in your everyday life remember that Francois D’Haene was there first in 2012: “I wear these shoes every day because they are so comfortable!”


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