It's no secret that the fashion set has a soft spot for nostalgic trends, especially ones that nod to the '90s. Do chunky lug-soles, flashes of neon, and sky-high platforms ring a bell? Well, '90s shoe trends are back this fall, even if the only place you'll wear your new footwear is around the house. Whether you're more interested in comfort or the cool factor, these throwback silhouettes have you covered.
"I always think of shoes from the '90s as evolutions of 'classic' and 'tried-and-true' style with a bit of quirk to them," shoe designer Nicole Saldana tells TZR. "I also think that girls and guys alike are gravitating towards '90s style because of the proportions as well as the versatility to dress up or down."
The New York-based designer introduced her Fabiana Mary Janes in the spring, which have become a hit on Instagram, and though they quickly sold out, there's another batch available to pre-order now. Saldana says when she's designing a collection, she always leans on the ideas of wearability and comfort, with a touch of playfulness — a combination exemplified by the era. "I wanted to design my version of a Mary Jane that juxtaposed both boyishness and femininity," the designer explains. "The Fabiana came to life because I wanted something I could wear every day with a chunkier sole and heel, but that added [a dainty component] to give it a little sense of humor and personality." Saldana views Mary Janes as a core silhouette that will always be on the roster of classic styles, yet reimagined with a twist — different proportions, heels heights, toe shapes, materials, and hardware.
The same subtle reinvention is also key for other modern footwear interpretations. If you look at the platforms by the Spice Girls, popular styles included metallic, velvet, and glitter. Today, up-and-coming designers like Nodaleto are releasing a more refined boot with luxe materials like suede, chunky block heels, and combat silhouettes. Or take neon, which was a sportswear trend back in the day with a more elevated twist now. You'll notice vibrant styles from cult-favorite shoe label By Far and clunky boots from Bottega Veneta.
Below, relive the '90s through the four shoe styles that dominated the runways for Fall/Winter 2020. Grab your slip dresses, baggy jeans, and chokers while you're at it.
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'90s Shoe Trend: Chunky, Exaggerated Soles
Chunky soles in various silhouettes made their way down the runway in February 2020. Rochas showed the exaggerated bottom with a combat boot, MSGM exhibited a lug-sole Mary Jane, Alexander McQueen delivered a chunky Chelsea boot, and New York-based label Jonathan Cohen collaborated with Dr. Martens for its Fall/Winter 2020 showing a platform oxford. "I have always loved Dr. Martens' boots and their oxfords," designer Jonathan Cohen tells TZR. "Rajni Jacques, who styled Fall 2020, and myself talked about the tension between 'traditional' beauties mixed with something seen as 'tougher' and unexpected. We felt the oxford; especially with all the Swarovski crystals enhanced this message." Throughout the collection the '90s shoe was styled with pieces like school girl plaid dresses, belted blazers, and midi skirt with tube socks.
Eager to bring back the silhouette for fall, too? If you're worried about the shoe coming off as too casual, balance out the chunky sole with sleek, tailored clothing. For your accessories, play with shapes by adding on a structured handbag.
'90s Shoe Trend: Mary Janes
Who would have thought the shoe you once wore to elementary school would become high fashion? Mary Janes have made an impressive resurgence over the last few years with the help of designers like Burberry (you've certainly seen the T-Bar style all over IG), Miu Miu, and The Row. When it comes to the childhood must-have, there are a couple directions you can go. You can opt for a skinny heel Mary Jane like the style shown at Prada (above), or if you're seeking comfort, try out a Marc Jacobs-approved flat.
'90s Shoe Trend: Neon
Neon is one of those trends that goes in and out of style in a blink of an eye. But according to designers, the vivid hue will be splashed all over shoes for fall. Take Christopher John Rogers who partnered with Christian Louboutin and displayed a blinding yellow heel on the runway. Meanwhile Bottega Veneta, a brand now known for its highly-coveted accessories went with a lime green chunky boot. Try out a flashy neon shoe IRL paired with all neutral pieces for a minimalist approach, or go the Christopher John Rogers route and wear the vibrant shade head-to-toe.
'90s Shoe Trend: Platforms
You've probably spotted Simon Miller's platform boots over the past year (the shoe officially launched for Spring/Summer '19) on the feet of your favorite fashion gurus. If you love the trend, brace yourself for some good news: Designers are confirming the silhouette is sticking around for fall. Paco Rabanne showed not one but two '90s trends in its square-toe platform boots (above). At Dries Van Noten, almost all the models were wearing a platform boot, and styles ranged from cool colorful patterns to funky snake print. If you're in the market for a new black boot this season, consider a fun platform silhouette. On the other hand, if a statement boot is on your wishlist, shop for an exciting printed platform.