Normal people have been wearing them for years, but now and again the fashion crowd picks up on them - that might be what's happening now. It's no bad thing - I liked the sleeker lines some designers introduced in their versions of the boat shoe a few years ago. I don't think you'd need to spend 200 bucks on boat shoes. My Paraboots were about €80 and you can get good US brands for even less. They're meant to be treated fairly roughly - they're going to be soaked in sea water, sand and so on, which is murder for leather, but spotless boat shoes look suspicious.