One of the most remarkable takeaways among the Fall/Winter 2021 shoe trends isn’t simply about the styles that were seen, but also the ones that weren’t. Among hundreds of collections, viewed digitally from around the world, there was a noticeable lack of athletic footwear in the latest collections. That’s not to say there weren’t any sneakers or the like, but it felt like quite a departure from just a few years ago when trainers were ubiquitous and, furthermore, a palpable shift away from the comfortable footwear that’s dominated wardrobes for the better part of the past year. Instead, countless designers had celebrations on the brain. And therefore on feet, too.
One of Fall/Winter’s flashiest trends includes tall, silver boots that appeared in quite a few collections. The effect lands somewhere between futuristic dressing and Studio-54 nostalgia. Either way, they seemed at home on a dance floor. The same could be said of bauble-embellished styles and boots so slick and shiny they resemble liquid leather. Each of these is daring and definitely optimistic that, come fall, occasion dressing will make its return. That said, designers haven’t lost their appreciation for the cozy and practical. Plush, fuzzy details were key for Fall/Winter, ranging anywhere from home slippers to dramatic takes on mukluks. Plus, the runway continues to make a strong case for clogs well into the latter half of the year.
Surely there’s no indication that athleisure is fading away, nor is it possible to predict exactly what our world will look like in six months. However, the latest footwear trends spark excitement for the act of dressing up with intention, of wearing special clothing for special occasions. And with good news on the horizon — all Americans being eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine as of May 1 — it feels hopeful to look ahead at next season’s bold trends and wonder all the places they can go.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Lifted Loafers
Loafers, the timelessly polished style, got a raise for Fall/Winter 2021. This came by way of staggering stacked heels and towering platforms. This elevated version of a classic shoe was seen in collections for Tods, Versace, and Loewe, where Jonathan Anderson gave them a modern two-tone finished and chunkier, platform silhouette.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Fuzzy Details
Wooly, fuzzy texture was a big theme across multiple brands for Fall, and yet, Chanel, Miu Miu, and Acne lead with some of the strongest examples of fluff. At Chanel and Miu Miu, ski weekends were reimagined with plush boots (some that nearly swallowed the leg whole), while at Acne, tall platform, clog boots had a dramatic cowhide finish.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Disco Queen
Frankly, it was hard to narrow down to just three brands bringing a bit of disco to the table as it clearly was a front-of-mind theme for many this season. Silver, high-heel, tall-shaft boots are eye-catching but were also styled in ways that showcased their versatility, as well as their ability to bring glamour into the everyday. At Dries Van Noten, a model worked a maxi denim skirt with the statement shoe. Meanwhile, at Jil Sander and Victoria Beckham, the shiny pairs accompanied pleated and knit dresses, respectively.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: The “It” Chunky Shoe
If “ugly shoes” is still a part of your fashion vernacular, clogs certainly fit that descriptor. They’re chunky and prioritize comfort, and designers are willing to bet they’ll be big in the coming six months. After all, the style blends the best of both worlds — cozy footbed, substantial soles — in a silhouette that complements all sorts of dress or skirt hemlines. The lookbooks for Sandy Liang, PH5, and Victor Glemaud — who made his footwear debut in partnership with Nigerian brand Shekudo — are proof.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Second-Skin Boots
Surely not for the faint of heart are liquid-y slick leather boots that meld together the look of leggings and footwear. While Prada and Peter Do’s pairs offer a clean thigh-to-toe line that looked sleek with outerwear and dresses, Schiaparelli upped the drama of the trend with a golden platform base — the result is essentially a work of art.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Just Vamping
While pumps have likely been relegated to the back of the closet for much of 2020, they’re back for fall, now with a low-vamp look. The silhouette is slightly retro from the otherwise straightforward pump but still maintained a modern look in the collections of Balmain, Prabal Gurung, and Marni, thanks to metallic materials, patterned-tights pairings, and styling with oversize clothing, respectively.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Laced and Layered
Designers incorporated nearly the entire leg into their footwear designs this season, by way of sock/legging and shoe combinations. At Proenza Schouler, minimal strappy sandals were winter-appropriate when worn with leather leggings, while Molly Goddard took a kookier approach and styled sweet bows and laces with argyle patterns. At Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri incorporated the lace-up detailing on a sock-boot hybrid design. When worn with mini leather skirts, the effect was preppy with an unmistakable edge.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Shoe Jewels
Not to be overshadowed by a statement earring, the embellished shoe trend had a strong showing in the Fall/Winter 2021 collections. At Carolina Herrera, pearl-decorated hearts were the finishing touch on an otherwise classic black boot. Similarly at Thebe Magugu, the designer topped white, trapeze-heel boots with the brand’s sisterhood emblem. For those of the more-is-more mindset, simply look to Vetements for a smattering of jewels adorning classic pumps.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Big Slouch
Contrasting the aforementioned skin-tight footwear is the appearance of boots with an extra amount of slack. Though a popular choice in the Fall collections, each designer’s approach is a bit unique. At Louis Vuitton, two-sided zippers on the shaft allowed boots to hang relaxed off the leg, as opposed to Khaite and The Row where styles in suede and leather scrunched generously toward the foot.
Fall/Winter 2021 Shoe Trend: Plush Slippers
While there are high hopes of wearing party shoes by next fall, brands are still providing when it comes to the evergreen appeal of a luxe slipper. Chloé showed plush slip-on sandals with elegant silk dresses; Coach made a case for fuzzy, buckled mules; and Altuzarra offered up a dramatically fluffy slipper you’d only assume one would wear to relax at home. Of course, in the end, that choice is yours.