NEW YORK (AP) — Gladiators were tough, but spring’s towering, leather-covered, often-studded sandals are an even bigger kick in the aggressive-shoe trend.
The two must-have styles are clearly cousins, but there’s been an evolution, thanks in part to chunky platforms, woven textures and more sex appeal.
The “it” bag has been replaced by the “it” shoe, says Nicole Fischelis, the group vice president of ready-to-wear fashion for Macy’s. “The aggressive shoe is not a new phenomenon. It’s been on the runway for a few seasons, but it’s more apparent because of the rocker-chick kind of mood that’s coming back into fashion.”
But skinny jeans and a leather jacket aren’t the only way to wear it. These shoes have an “opposite attraction” with delicate, feminine dresses, too.
“Fusion” is a buzz word in fashion right now, Fischelis says.
“I do think that a soft look can be complemented with a strong accessory; it is all about the balance and confidence in how it is worn,” adds Fred Allard, creative director at Nine West. “I think that the platform and studded gladiator sandals from this season can be considered aggressive as well as feminine, depending on the woman who is wearing them.”
“Ethereal spring-summer looks need an anchor that’s a little edgy,” agrees stylist Tara Swennen, who counts Miley Cyrus as a client.
Tastemakers say aggressive shoes go from daytime to evening, casual to dressy, sexy to serious. This flexibility gives them legs as a long-term trend. Macy’s and Nine West report swift sales.
You know an aggressive shoe when you see it, but it’s hard to describe. Fischelis says the true hallmark is attitude. Swennen touts funkiness. Jennifer Gosselin, vice president and general manager of online shoe store Piperlime, calls the new look a stepped-up gladiator.
There’s often a high heel involved, but some kitten heels and even some flats capture the cool-girl spirit. Generally, there’s a lot of leather up front but sharp cutouts or straps allow flashes of bare skin. Embellishment ranges from Indian beading to punk-rock hardware.
“Everything is gravitating toward an architectural design,” Swennen says. “They’re harder on the feet, but the designs are amazing with extravagant details and interesting materials.”
Swennen says wearers can save their soles with shock-absorbing cushions and a snug-but-not-tight fit.
Women can participate in this look by diving in with both feet or just dipping a toe, Gosselin says. She identifies Matt Bernson’s Barracuda shoe, with its medium-brown leather, double ankle straps, flat heel and pyramid-shaped gold studs as a very accessible, wearable translation of the trend. A peeptoe is a more refined, ladylike version.
“Earth tones are a less edgy place. A cognac color is for beginners, and full-on black with silver or chrome studs with a high heel is the most edgy and you can take it down from there,” Gosselin says.
The dramatic, femme-fatale shoe perfectly offsets some of the menswear-inspired fashion coming down the pike later in the year, she says. “As we look toward fall, you’ll see in fashion a lot of androgyny with the boyfriend jacket, and boyfriend jeans with a ruffled blouse — and killer shoes.”
For the warmer weather, Swennen likes aqua, yellow or silver shoes worn with black, or darker hues paired with crisp white or sandy beige clothes.
The silhouette works with knee-length skirts, Bermuda shorts and both wide- and skinny-leg pants, according to Swennen, but stay away from short shorts or maxi dresses — the proportions just aren’t right.