I've heard a couple people say this. Maybe it's just because i'm in the south, but i've found boat shoes to always be popular with the preppy/fratty crowd. They were popular when I was in a fraternity in the mid 00's. I think they've become more popular with hipsters lately due to the whole americana trend.
Yeah, I'm in Canada, so they used to be worn by old guys but didn't become a young person's shoe until their recent burst of popularity over the last few years. Now they're something you wear if you're trying to follow the trends but you're 3 years behind.