Why Do Fashionable Shoes Keep Getting Uglier? A Theory.

I am not a fashion person. I consider myself a stylish person, but I can't "make it fashion." Every time I go shopping I am drawn to a black shift dress as if it's an abandoned Goldendoodle only to bring it home and realize that I already have 600 black shift dresses. If I were to go to the Met Gala (I will never be invited to the Met Gala), I would wear a sensible black shift dress (probably because I was hired to blend in and hold the back of someone else's pink ball gown).

But as I do work in the same building as Elle, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire, I'm exposed to Serious Fashion. And I've noticed something that makes me want to corner Fashion and whisper, Fashion, blink once if you need help.

What's with all the ugly shoes?

This shoestorm has been brewing, quietly but in lots of different colors and patterns, for years. It started with the flatform, a term former Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive coined years ago even though I can't find proof on the internet. Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Louis Vuitton sent flatforms down the runway in 2015. Proenza Schouler and Philip Lim followed (don't I sound like a fashion person? I've done my homework!). And then, just like Miranda Priestly said it would, the making-a-star-out-of-unfashionable-shoes-thing eventually trickled over to brands people like me can afford.

You see, someone saw the flatform success and thought, how can my bank account get a Lyft out of this Uber success? They turned to a shoe first unveiled in 2002, at a boat show in Fort Lauderdale. No, I'm not talking about Sperry's. Good guess. I'm talking about Crocs. Christopher Kane introduced a little collabity collab with Mario Batali's favorite shoe for his London Fashion Week Show in 2016. A year later, it was Crocs x Balenciaga. Teva sandals and Birkenstocks also had seasons of love.

But Balenciaga did not want to get off the train. In 2018, Balenciaga's Demna Gvasalia introduced "dad sneakers" at his Spring/Summer 2018 menswear show. The likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner quickly said enough with these PITA stiletto heels. Hand me the Dad Sneakers, goddamnit! And then everyone started wearing them. Spending hundreds of dollars on them, in fact.

And you know who decided they would one-up Balenciaga? You know who sat back and thought, hey, we've been making shoes since 1958 and people should be drawn to us because our friggin' LOGO is a cute puppy? Yea, Hush Puppies. That's right. Today, they are launching the Power Move of all Power Moves in the fashion industry. They literally have it tattooed on their PR materials: "Move over, dad sneakers. Grandpa's here."

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Daniel Van Duinen

Just listen to this burn from Ken Beaulieu, Hush Puppies' VP Global Product: "We didn't have to create a dad shoe as we've had ours before your dad was even a dad." HOLD MY WHITE GIRL ROSÉ BECAUSE SOMEONE JUST CAME SWINGING. "Power Walker is an original and we've updated it with some new modern colors that Hush Puppies consumers young and old will love."

Honestly, these "orthopedic, bulky" (their words!) shoes have a lot to offer. They're under $100, supportive, stabilizing, and are available in a range of colors. Hush Puppies also wants you to know that they're "loved by the Rolling Stones, Princess Diana, David Bowie, and Tupac."

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The Prevention.com team rocking Hush Puppies Power Walkers.

Jessica Teich

This forced me to take a hard look at Power Walkers. So much so that I called in a pair of the new Hush Puppies for everyone on my team so I could look at them like I used to look at my Barbie dolls all in a row and said, why. And you know what I realized? Everyone just wants permission. The world is going up in flames, and the world just wants to be comfortable while it happens. And I am here for it.

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Me, wearing metallic Power Shoes to roam the halls.

Tiffany Ayuda

Because at Prevention, we've always supported supportive shoes! We support comfy walking shoes and running shoes and cross training shoes. And now fashion is finally waking up to this very nice way of life! As High Snob Society wrote about Crocs, "ugliness is subjective." What matters is your comfort. You can wear anything and call it stylish or fashionable. No one's opinion matters but yours.

Welcome to the light, fashion.


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Devin is Prevention.com's executive editor and has written everything from deeply reported features to well-curated gift guides (if she does say so herself).

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