Models in sneakers at Chanel's recent show at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Getty
Could we be in the midst of a comfort shoe revolution?
It’s certainly starting to look — and feel — like it.
After years of tripping and tottering, women are stepping down from heels and platforms and settling into shoes that are more down-to-earth, whether it's a Birkenstock-like slide sandal, a slip-on skater sneaker or a running shoe.
Emma Thompson opted for gold flats at the SAG Awards last week. Photo: Getty
Designers are offering an array of comfy-chic styles, including Valentino’s Rockstud Camo running shoe ($USD795), Givenchy’s Rose Camouflage slip-on sneaker ($USD570), Isabel Marant’s Edris thong sandal ($USD580, coming soon) and Marni’s double-band metallic, bow-trimmed comfort sandal ($USD830).
Celine’s Phoebe Philo is the one to credit for the trend. She started the movement when she created an haute, pony hair version of the Vans slip-on skater sneaker for her spring 2012 collection. (The style became a must-have and has since become a mainstay of her collection.)
She followed it up in fall 2013 with mink-lined fur-kenstock sandals. (Miley Cyrus reportedly bought five pairs.) And the trend for both slip-on sandals and sneakers has been unstoppable ever since.
During the last round of runway shows in September, bloggers and fashion editors were wearing Nike’s colorful Flyknit Lunar 1 sneakers with skirts for a 1990s “Working Girl” throwback look.
Karl Lagerfeld was obviously paying attention to what was happening on the streets. A few weeks ago, he made headlines by pairing each one of his Spring 2014 Chanel Couture looks with a pair of sneakers. And for once, a few of the models actually looked happy to be there.
(Chanel has been making sneakers for years, but these couture versions will likely cost around $USD6,000 a pair.)
On a pop culture level, sneakers took center stage in June 2013 when Texas state Senator Wendy Davis ditched her heels for a pair of pink Mizuno running shoes to lead a 13-hour filibuster of an anti-abortion bill.
The comfort shoe revolution is even starting to hit the Hollywood red carpet, that last bastion of fantasy dressing.
At the Golden Globes, Emma Thompson spoke for a lot of us when she kicked off her Christian Louboutin heels and said, “See this red? It’s my blood!”
She obviously learned her lesson. A few days later, when she walked the red carpet at the SAG Awards, it was in a pair of rose gold Louboutin Toboggan flat sandals. And she looked like the coolest, most self-assured woman in the land.
While it's not likely women are going to chuck their stilettos in a giant funeral pyre, casting off footwear oppression forever, the comfort shoe revolution is a happy development. Even if it lasts only a few seasons.