Post-pandemic we are a nation divided – on many issues, but it seems one sartorial dilemma in particular.
Do you intend to carry on wearing comfortable flat shoes, after becoming accustomed to a life of slippers and trainers in lockdown? Or are you in the back-to-heels club, now gamely upping the glamour again for every opportunity this autumn?
According to global shopping platform Lyst both ends of the footwear spectrum are experiencing sales booms, as customers have been inspired by new celebrity muses.
Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old British tennis sensation, is the leader of the flats pack. After her historic victory at the US Open in September, the champion’s shoe of choice – a pair of £165 NikeCourt React Vapor NXTs – prompted an 86 per cent increase in searches for Nike tennis shoes from those who wanted to get her look, according to Lyst’s third quarter trend report which analyses what more than 150 million people each year are browsing for online.
Raducanu’s shoes became the fourth most-wanted product amongst fashion fans between the months of July and September 2021, sandwiched between two other styles of designer flats; Bottega Veneta’s terry slides (the height of comfort, they are essentially fluffy flip-flops) and JW Anderson’s chain loafer mules.
Fuzzy sandals, trainers, and statement loafers may rule on one side of the market. But the other muses women are looking to are the pop stars. Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and Dua Lipa have all been seen in a specific, incredibly high pair of heels by Versace; the towering 15cm Medusa Aevitas platforms, priced at £1,080. Beyoncé wore a Barbie pink satin version with a black minidress, while Grande’s were canary yellow, and featured a sparkling diamante ankle strap.
The very definition of a statement pair of shoes, this particular style was the second most searched for fashion accessory between July and September, according to Lyst, but overall interest in heels is also back and up 177 percent compared to this time last year. For those intending to go all-out this party season, bright coloured satins, jewel embellishments, and sky-high platforms are expected to lead the way.
The revived character Carrie Bradshaw, glimpsed for the first time on the set of Sex and the City spin off And Just Like That, is remaining committed to her trademark heels, wearing styles by Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Chloe. Other pop-cultural advocates for head-to-toe glossy glamour include Adele, photographed for Vogue on a seemingly one woman-mission to bring back cleavage and end our national obsession with comfortable soft cup bras too, while she’s at it.
It all feels a bit like a parallel version of the hemline index – the theory that suggests that skirt lengths rise or fall alongside stock prices. It could make sense for there to be a post-pandemic resurgence of extreme heels, as women want to party on a (literal) high.
But I’d argue that there was less of a comfort issue at play when the skirts got shorter in the 1920s, or the 1960s, and that many who abandoned their heels altogether during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns would need more convincing to put up with the pain afresh.
There are brilliant, stylish options for all around this autumn. So, you decide, are you team stay-in-flats or back-to-heels? Tell us in the comments section below.
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