It’s a tradition as old as time itself (or 1966, when Californian native Margot Fraser bought the U.S. distribution rights for a homely German sandal known as the Birkenstock). Every few seasons, the arbiters of fashion attempt to convince us that certain ugly shoes — masterfully constructed, borderline chic, certifiably ugly nonetheless — are cool.
For the record, we don’t use the word “ugly” to impugn these designers’ abilities (or even their tastes). In fact, the cobblers usually triumph in their mind manipulations because their shoes are so — how shall we put this? — unique. Their designs demonstrate ingenuity. Originality we feel transfers to us when we slide these veritable works of art on our feet. Plus, in many cases, the less aesthetically pleasing the shoe, the cozier it is.
In recent years, the ugly shoe trend has picked up speed. (Athleisure, novelty and all things ironic being “in” and all.) At Celine’s Spring 2013 show in Paris, Phoebe Philo raised the incline by sending cozy, fur-lined slip-ons down the runway. The well-heeled (sore-footed) fashion crowd duly lost its mind. “That silhouette was universally considered ugly,” remarked Vogue.com contributor Katherine Bernard at the time. “But **Phoebe Philo’**s luxe reinterpretation of a Birkenstock got me thinking. It’s like the most comfortable sandal in the world is having a stylish renaissance.”
Since then, we’ve seen countless designers offer up their own versions of shower slides, Birkenstocks, UGGs, Wallabees and moon boots. In 2015, we were given a Marc Jacobs-branded Dr. Scholl’s sandal. Opening Ceremony has released no less than three (successful!) Teva collaborations. For Spring 2017, Christopher Kane actually teamed up with Crocs (yes, the slip-resistant shoes once associated with line cooks are now fashion). And we won’t soon forget those electric-green double-faced Hood By Air boots (above).
The recent runways were similarly rife with jolie laide shoes, most of them far more wearable than those Frankencowboy boots. And wear them the street style set will because what screams “Notice me!” louder than fuzzy, multicolored Prada boots? Steel yourself for the clash of good clothes and ugly shoes. Click through the gallery below to see what forms the trend will take in Fall 2017.
P.S. If you decide to hop on the bandwagon, complement your footwear with a tailored pant or pretty dress.
P.P.S. We didn’t forget about Christopher Kane x Crocs part deux. The omission is intentional. Don’t do it.