'Ugly Shoes' Are the Hype of 2020 Footwear
Many of 2020’s breakout trends symbolized traditional elegance with moments where runway fashion was entirely evocative of the 1920s era of glamour and decadence. One instance where this could not be less true is footwear. While ballgowns and opera gloves had their moment on the 2020 runway, the prominence of ugly footwear was one of the season’s most capturing trends.
The humble wellington boot stormed the 2020 runway, featured in collections from Dior, Bottega Veneta and Prada to name a few. Welly boots have been given a high fashion makeover trampling both on the runway and expectations. Gone is the archetype of a khaki green or navy blue Hunter boot, muddied by the Glastonbury fields accompanied by a Boo-Hoo chic festival dress, and in its place are boots designed by the likes of Christian Dior, in classic black and whites, perfect for any occasion, and in bolder tones of pink.
The term welly boot amongst words like Prada, runway and high fashion feels utterly incongruous, but the ugly footwear trend is garnering prominence with every changing season. AW19 saw the rise of the turbo heavyweight boot and Fila Disruptors. The incredibly popular and meme-ified trainer boosted Fila’s footwear sales by 60% in 2019 and according to Depop there was a 583% increase in searches for the shoe in the UK. Ugly shoes are everywhere from GenZers to fashion editors and street style icons.
And the trend is showing no sign of slowing down - summer 2020 has seen ugly footwear become even more ubiquitous and nowhere is this more apparent than in the rise of the dad sandal. Searches for ‘dad sandals’ have increased by 2800% according to the app LiketoKnow and are being produced everywhere from Chanel to Teva to Doc Marten, dad sandals are one of this year's most surprising and prominent trends. For me, the dad sandal symbolises one of the delicate and incredibly valuable elements of fashion and style that is too often overlooked in favour of the ever changing trends, which is the borrowing of something familiar. The donning of a boyfriend’s shirt or of a dad’s jumper adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the monotonous every day of Zara dresses and Joni jeans. The typically ugly dad sandal which evokes memories of socks stuffed into leather, sweaty holidays and sunburn, lends this quality perfectly. The rise of these footwear trends shows that now more than ever there is pleasure in both the difference and breaking the mold.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this trend is not pertaining to style or aesthetic, but rather to comfort. So many of us have spent the last few months in sweatpants, without makeup and braless, embracing looking and dressing more naturally in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Like with many other things, it is yet to be reflected how the pandemic will change how we dress, but it seems unlikely that women are going to want to shrink and contort themselves in the ways we have become used to. The ugly footwear trend shows that now more than ever, gone are the days of stilettos and bleeding feet and in its place are shoes that are paving the way towards modernity, comfort and an understanding of modern womanhood.
Words by Marni McFall