WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
We look back at the shoes that stood out in a year like no other, from Amina Muaddi’s sexy heels to comfort in the forms of Bottega Veneta and Birkenstocks.
2020 might not have been the year of experimenting with fashion, wearing outlandish shoes or indulging in any way or form. Yet despite the apocalyptic mood of the year, the joy of dressing up and the love of shoes prevailed: We reimagined comfortable basics – be it fluffy slippers, New Balance sneakers or the humble dad sandal – into fashionable staples and dreamed of better days through sparkly, fantasy heels.
Here, we look back at some of the most popular shoes of the year that added a touch of coziness or a much-needed dose of sparkle in our homebound 2020 lives.
Bottega Veneta Tire Boots
The Bottega Veneta boot mania was well underway since last year, with the brand’s chunky Lug boots amassing long waiting lists and populating every fashionable Instagram account you can think of. But the Italian label managed to keep the momentum going by releasing a new spin-off this year, dubbed the ‘Tire’ boot and featuring rubber trims on the soles, which come in an array of colour combinations. They became one of the year’s most on-demand items, because they carry Bottega’s fashion credentials, as well as a hefty dose of practicality – if you think about it, it’s the perfect shoe for a winter walk, the most popular activity of the year. Data and shopping platform Lyst, ranked the Tire boots at number 4 in a ranking for the year’s hottest items, commenting that the chunky boot trend is a reflection of the year’s “survivalist” aesthetic.
Prada Logo Loafers
Despite the year’s challenges, Prada still managed to have a big moment in 2020. Between the debut of the first collection co-designed with Raf Simmons, the ever-growing popularity of its Nylon collection and its sustainable initiatives to replace its nylon with recycled alternatives by the end of 2021, the Milanese label has been taking over many a headline – and for good reason.
It’s also been taking space in shoe lovers’ wardrobes with its chunky logo loafer, becoming the new shoe hero of the year. It arrived just in time this autumn to offer a more sleek, elegant – yet still comfortable – alternative to the sneakers and boots we’ve been so used to wearing. But it also felt familiar enough, being part of the same chunky-soled family as the Monolith boot family that continued to be a hit this year.
The New Balance Sneaker
If there’s a single shoe that defined the first round of global lockdowns and at-home life, it was the New Balance sneaker. This is a brand and a style that has always been around, but in 2020 everyone seemed to rediscover it and make it their own – it could be the nostalgia or the need for something that felt familiar and tried-and-tested. We wore the shoes with everything from Pangaia tracksuits and thick white socks, activewear and summer dresses, while New Balance kept feeding our appetites for its sneakers with new, buzzy collaborations with the likes of Staud, Casablanca and more. The ultimate inspiration behind the trend? A Seventies image of Susan Sarandon nonchalantly lounging on her Cannes balcony wearing a sexy black and white tux with her New Balance sneakers, proving that style doesn’t get old.
Chanel ‘Dad’ Sandals
When the temperatures got higher, we looked for an alternative to our New Balances, yet weren’t ready to give up on extreme comfort. Cue some comfy sandals, more specifically Birkenstock’s elevated by Proenza Schouler and Chanel’s velcro ‘dad’ sandals. The sandals that were a favourite everywhere from the streets of fashion week to the feeds of Instagram came in all kinds of colours, making this style the ultimate it shoe of summer 2020. Chanel just released the first items from their pre-spring collection which includes plenty of velcro sandals in new finishes, confirming that this is a style that will be just as popular in the new year.
All things Amina Muaddi
Amina Muaddi was an all-round winner this year, beating all odds and predictions about a decline in demand for high heels, since shoppers had nowhere to go. Her eponymous brand’s drops each sold out as she released numerous versions of the embellished Begum pumps, glittery Gilda sandals and mules all with that signature martini heel. Muaddi’s shoes became the unofficial ‘all dressed up but nowhere to go’ shoe that fashion lovers would slip into during lockdown. There was also a collaboration with Rihanna’s Fenty, that was received with just as much excitement and more recently a surprise collection with A$AP Rocky’s AWGE.
J.W. Anderson Jewellery shoes
Jonathan Anderson is certainly not a new player, but so far he was best known for the exceptional outerwear of his own label, J.W. Anderson and his eye for an it-bag, having created all of Loewe’s recent hits, from the Puzzle to the Flamenco crossbody bag and the brand’s infamous baskets. But this year, Anderson’s name has been increasingly heard in the shoe circles too, as some of his fall 2020 shoe designs started going as viral as his bags, for the first time. His ultimate hit? We are torn between the hoop heels: A pair of kitten heels featuring extra large diamanté hoops hanging from the front strap and the XL chain embellished loafers that had the prefect combination of crazy and comfort, perfectly capture Anderson’s playful, rule-bending spirit.
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