The Significant Reason Platforms Are 2022’s Defining Shoes

History is repeating itself.

Originally Published: 
Leonie Hanne in Versace platform heels spring 2022 trend
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After several years spent lauding the capsule wardrobe and a minimal everyday uniform, fashion has officially passed the torch to the sartorial risk-takers. Consider how, in 2022, miniskirts have become microscopic and trendy illusion prints shirk reality, tricking the eye into seeing something not quite there. And, perhaps most notable of all, are this year’s crop of It shoes, which by and large reach towering, pray-I-don’t-break-an-ankle heights. Moreover, 2022’s platform shoe trend is an all-encompassing one, meaning it’s not exclusively reserved just for heels.

Footwear of all kinds — sneakers, sandals, even the saccharine style of a Mary Jane — reaches new extremes thanks to a slew of audacious designers who dare you to escalate. Look to the Spring/Summer 2022 runways: GANNI’s husband-and-wife duo Nicolaj Reffstrup and Ditte Reffstrup unveiled hefty and stacked loafers, while Hedi Slimane introduced sky-high platform sneakers in Celine’s seasonal drop.

Elizabeth Semmelhack, the director and senior curator of Toronto’s BATA Shoe Museum, theorizes the recent infatuation with the lofty silhouette is a means of escapism — and it’s not the first time platform shoes are being used to transcend. “Years ago, I made a very off-the-cuff observation that women’s footwear designs become more extreme during times of economic and political strife,” Semmelhack explains to TZR. She references how platforms — namely by Ferragamo and Schiaparelli — defined the WWII-stricken late-1930s, and then again in the early 1970s amid the Vietnam War and energy crisis. Semmelhack, who reiterates her observations are casual and don’t equate to definite correlations, invites you also to consider the late-1990s dot-com bubble when chunky, slip-on flatforms and elevated Spice Girl-esque booties dominated the trend cycle. “Interestingly,” she says, “here we are again with footwear that rises to towering heights and captures media attention,” suggesting the recent trend of platform shoes is a result of the past years’ tumult.

Are you ready to dive even deeper into the heightened shoe phenomenon? Below, find 2022’s various platform interpretations and shop from options that range from indie labels like Simon Miller and NEOUS to fashion houses like Versace, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta.

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Highly-Saturated Sandals

Agus Panzoni, a trend forecaster who, if you frequent Fashion TikTok, is likely a mainstay on your ‘For You Page,’ says colorful and chunky sandals are a definite style to add to your spring and summer shoe rotation. “I see demand for platform sandals in highlighter hues such as neon pink, green, and purple in accordance to the dopamine dressing trend,” offers Panzoni, aka @thealgorythm.

Consider snagging Bottega Veneta’s Wedge Mule in a smile-inducing light pistachio shade and pairing it with on-trend Bermuda shorts and a knit polo top.

Mary Janes Taken To New Heights

Also of note is how 2022’s platform trend begot a more grown-up interpretation of the iconic Mary Jane. In particular, Versace’s viral platform Medusa pumps — which you’ve definitely seen all over Instagram — epitomize the shoe’s sweet yet sultry redo. Consider styling a pair of platform Mary Jane heels with your favorite party dress, piling on a few choice celebratory accessories, and hitting the town for a night out.

Elevated Sandals For On The Go

Chelsea Hansford, the creative director and CEO of It-girl brand Simon Miller, praises platform shoes for delivering the escalated effect of heels but allowing for more mobility. “With platforms, you can get that lift and feel put together but, at the same time, be able to work and be on the go,” explains Hansford. And, she adds, “you can wear platforms day to night without the fussy-ness of heels.”

“Popular materials for [platforms] will be leather and latex — shoutout to the Julia Fox effect — as well as sequins and glitter,” Panzoni offers. “I recommend looking for lace-ups and strappy styles” — like NEOUS’ Cher Slingback Platform number.

Lofty Loafers

Hoping to infuse more individualistic flair into your footwear selection? Consider swapping your traditional flat Oxfords for a platform loafer done in stark white. The shoe inherently taps into a classic, timeless feel due to its preppy origins yet the stacked silhouette gives it an unconventional edge.

Y2K-Era Flatforms

“I think that many of the platforms in fashion currently are linked to late-1990s and early 2000s nostalgia — think Bratz dolls,” offers Semmelhack. Hansford concurs with BATA Shoe Museum’s senior curator, specifically shouting out Simon Miller’s Blackout Platform for being a style that harkens back to the ‘Hot Aughts.’ “As a creative director, I feel very passionate about platforms because of the height and bold presence,” she describes to TZR. “I always go back to the idea of a working creative because our platforms are meant to be worn in a practical way — moving, grooving, and getting sh*t done, which is not the same attitude as heels,” Hansford says.

A Subtle ‘70s Influence

Panzoni specifically cites one retro epoch for influencing today’s platform styles: the 1970s. “The popularity of this shoe style comes hand in hand with last year’s resurgence of popular trends from the ‘70s, such as bell bottoms, power suits, and crochet clothing,” she explains. Try a pair from Giuseppe Zanotti — the footwear brand responsible for Olivia Rodgiro’s internet-breaking platform heels worn to the White House, by the way — and team it with a crochet dress and aviator-style sunnies.

Chunky — But Not Dadcore — Sneakers

2022’s leading styles are “about marrying comfort and sensuality, and the height of platform shoes elongate the wearer’s silhouette while providing significantly more support than stilettos,” describes Panzoni. Case in point: platform sneakers, which are a flirty-yet-sporty option to consider for those who want to test out a lofty look while still retaining feeling in all 10 toes. In particular, Alexander McQueen’s chunky Tread Slick pair makes for a luxurious and eye-catching take on the trend.

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