Get well-shod with our guide to finding your feet this season
When it comes to trend-spotting, most if not all eyes are on the upper and lower body. But if you want to stay on your toes fashion-wise, then you need to keep at least one peeper on what’s happening below the (exposed) ankle.
Look no further.
Velcro & Straps
Trainers have vastly increased their footprint in recent years.
Trainers were without doubt secondary to formal and brown shoes,” says Luke Mountain, the department store’s awesomely named buying manager. “However, we’ve seen this turn on its head.”
Saying that trainers are a big trend for 2016 is not especially revelatory, though. So instead, we’re going to hone in on the trends within the trainer trend – ‘in-crep-tion’, if you will.
One of these gaining serious traction is Velcro.
It’s not a giant leap from there to the phenomenon of elastic straps on the vamp. “This is a huge trend on both trainers and formal footwear,” says James Lawrence, head of menswear design at ASOS. “Everyone from sportswear brands such as adidas and Y-3 to high-end designers like Givenchy have done these styles.”
To tie it all together, laces aren’t so much trending as trailing behind.
Monochrome & Tonal
There are two opposing factions vying for supremacy in the trainer market, and no, we’re not talking about Nike and adidas.
On one end of the spectrum, there are technical and statement trainers, with their bright colours and high-performance bells and whistles (not actual bell and whistles). On the other end, there are the more pared-back, minimalist styles. And for SS16 – dare we say it – the trend pendulum is arguably swinging more to the toned-down, tonal side.
“The market has been full of sneaker collaborations loosely designed around a story or theme, so I think there has been a gap in the market to produce more sophisticated and mature tonal sneakers,” says David Morris, shoe buyer at the sophisticated and mature e-tailer Mr Porter. “These sneakers appeal to consumers who want something a bit more subtle.”
ASOS’ Lawrence is also in step with this development. “Stone, dusty pink and khaki are the colours of the season and are perfect for tonal dressing,” he says. There’s an argument that these styles pair better with light, summery colours and fabrics. Certainly they won’t make you look like you’re going to the gym when you’re wearing shorts.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned creps. (Besides, trainers aren’t the only game in this season’s footwear town.)
Crepe is a kind of nubby rubber, originally coagulated straight off the tree, although nowadays you’re more likely to find synthetic rubber crepe on shoe racks. Its most famous deployment was in the iconic Clarks’ desert boot, which was inspired by the lightweight but grippy alternative to heavy military boots devised by British army officers stationed in Burma during WWII.
Crepe soles are still most commonly applied to desert and chukka boots, but this season you’ll also see them on brogues and Derbies by the likes of Burberry and Paul Smith, respectively. Common Projects, the OG of the minimalist trainer movement, even designed a crepe-soled Derby exclusively for Mr Porter. So you know that it’s ‘a thing’.
Maybe it’s the desert-sand-beach connection, but something about a crepe sole says hot weather. Combined with a suede upper, it’s a sure-fire way to make classic, formal footwear styles feel more summery. Not to mention comfortable.
Yes, you read that right. Note, though, we’re talking proper leather sandals here, as distinct from cheap rubber flip-flops.
Designers have been pushing sandals with increasing force for a few seasons now, and the big guns all pulled out their straps for SS16 – everyone from Michael Kors to Marni, Margaret Howell to Maison Margiela, and even some brands that don’t begin with M, like Gucci, Versace and Kenzo to name but three.
It’s an evolution of the pool slider trend; indeed, the fact these ‘mandals’ are rendered in a premium material like leather makes them sit more naturally alongside more formal summer looks and even tailoring – of the relaxed, deconstructed kind, that is. They’ll jar a bit with a Savile Row suit.
But while highly ventilated sandals are supremely practical for summer, they’re very much an edgy look – especially if, like on the runways, you style them with socks. There’s a fine line between chiselled Greek god and lost German tourist. If you’re entering the gladiatorial arena, it’s safer to lose the hosiery and go barefoot (in your sandals).
Just make sure you get a pedicure before you let the dogs out.
The rope-soled summer staples haven’t been this hot since they first came into fashion, in 13th-century Catalonia.
Although espadrilles are more commonly associated with sunning oneself in the Mediterranean – or Miami, in the case of pastel-suited ambassador Don Johnson – back in the 1200s they were standard issue for the King of Aragon’s infantrymen.
But despite these military roots, espadrilles aren’t exactly the most rugged of footwear, which perhaps also explains their slightly louche connotations – they’re not shoes for yomping much further than the beach bar. And that didn’t matter too much then or now, because of their cheapness.
Today, designers often incorporate modern innovations like stealth rubber soles to increase espadrilles’ durability while maintaining their laid-back, hand-woven vibe. But the likes of Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino have taken things a step further this season, with trainer-espadrille hybrids sporting thick rope-trimmed soles and slick leather uppers in place of cotton.
Yes, they’re more expensive. But they’re also more suited to padding around on pavements – and less likely to disintegrate, too. Plus they can be dressed up with smarter outfits and even relaxed summer tailoring. Rolling the sleeves up is strictly optional, Crockett.
Don’t take footwear too lightly, it defines exactly who you are. What you prioritize and after all, it starts your journey.