Though the two concepts don't often go hand-in-hand, comfort and novelty commingled quite a bit on the runway this season. Most notably, among the shoe trends of Spring/Summer 2021. Wrapping up an admittedly strange month of shows and virtual presentations across New York, London, Milan, Paris, and well, screens everywhere, many designers took a “we hear you” approach to envisioning fashion for the near future. They didn’t ignore consumer’s overwhelming desire to feel comfortable and dress easily — athleisure and sneakers have been ubiquitous with luxury fashion for the past decade after all — as they head into an uncertain year, but they didn’t play it safe either.
Complementary to playful, experimental designs — boldly tall flatforms at Altuzarra, a newfangled take on toe sandals at Givenchy — were plush footbeds and easy-to-walk-in rubberized soles. For the everyday, brands like Acne and Stella McCartney added a thoughtful addition of cushioning to their already uncomplicated sandal styles. On the heels front, instead of a slew of statement stilettos that were spiky, staggering, and flashy, brands like Dries Van Noten and Jacquemus presenting fresh versions of delicate ankle-strap heels — a timeless look that'll feel as relevant in 2021 as it will in 2031. Fall's chain details were also seen for spring in styles by Victoria Beckham and Tom Ford, offering a bejeweled shoe that didn't feel overly glitzy.
In all, it seemed as though footwear was carefully considered across the board; designers supplied exciting, inventive, yet practical options to live you life in, even when you're not entirely sure what that entails just yet.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Return of the Clog
For many, clogs are a trend that ebbs in and out of the zeitgeist. And this Fashion Month, the silhouette just hit differently — surprising and sleek — when spotted on runways and in lookbooks. Hermès created a chic, shiny leather design that paired effortlessly with everything on its Spring/Summer runway, while Bally followed suit, styling the shamelessly clunky style with polished separates. Molly Goddard offered a '90s platform version that complemented a signature frilly confection by the British designer.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Not Your Standard Sandal
Spring/Summer 2021 welcomes a flat sandal trend that’s not quite as bare and minimalist as other slim-strapped versions. Instead, Acne Studios and Stella McCartney had padded details on their latest flip flop styles, Roger Vivier added embellishment with it's floral sandals. The pillowy details step up an otherwise simple silhouette, adding an appreciated dose of comfort and playfulness.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: The Baby Heel
Taking cues from the current need for comfort, one of Spring/Summer 2021’s most prominent shapes comes in the form of low block and kitten heels in a range of styles. For Chanel, this translated to sleek two-tone slingbacks. Prada mastered the pointy-toe look in a range of shades that'll serve as a classic wardrobe staple, while Valentino opted for an update on its classic Rockstud.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Strappy Stepped Up
According to street style recent history, think, strappy sandals found their back into the trend cycle thanks to Phoebe Philo's Céline and the minimalist styles of The Row. But the latest collections argue that a few simple straps just aren't enough. Khaite, JW Anderson, and Givenchy all presented a daring upgrade from your average minimalist sandal with several straps that divide the toes and toe box.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: High-Fashion House Slippers
It seems designers (like everyone else) have spent the past six months contemplating why anyone should wear shoes that are not as cozy as a house slipper. And though the other eight trends in this story offer good arguments to stray, brands such as Rosetta Getty, Gabriela Hearst, and Balenciaga have leaned into the moment with slippers that make you feel like you're walking on clouds, be it inside or out of the house.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Sky-High Flatforms
Entering 2021, you may notice that flatforms have experienced a growth spurt. At Erdem, Altuzarra, and Ulla Johnson, soles have been elevated to daring heights in quirky, chunky sandals with raffia and wooden heels. Wear them if you dare, just be sure to practice before heading out your front door.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Leather Lace-Ups
One footwear trend for Spring/Summer 2021 has all the utility and ease of a sneaker but, upon closer inspection, isn't necessarily intended for a distanced jog in the park. Sporty casual soles appeared in collections for Louis Vuitton and Marni with lace-up details, mini stacked heels, and bright palettes. Meanwhile at Miu Miu, the same sneaker-like style was seen on metallic shoes with small kitten heels. Consider it the ideal balance of sport and street.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Chain Reaction
The bold chainlink trend seen in the Fall/Winter 2020 collections returns next year thanks to brands such as Victoria Beckham, Versace, and Tom Ford. The heavy metal detailing adds drama and shine to heels that are perfect for days when you want to "dress up," not just simply "get dressed."
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Elegant Ankle Straps
Nina Ricci, Dries Van Noten, and Jacquemus offered an alternative to the several chunkier and lower-heeled shoe options for 2021. In this case, the designers returned to a tried-and-true ankle strap heel — a look that’s just as elegant as ever. The choice feels spot-on for consumers looking to build an everlasting wardrobe of timeless pieces.
Spring 2021 Shoe Trends: Heavy Soles, Dainty Details
The latest hybrid shoe trend is comfortable and practical with a uniquely charming dose of weird. It blends sturdy, rubber soles with sweet ankle-wrapped details. See: Simone Rocha's dainty, bejeweled straps, Koche's bold buckles; and Tods's elegant tie details in place of average sneaker laces.