Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

It's true. Shoe designers hate us


Lisa Armstrong at the Times asked around to see if designers were going to introduce a mid-height heel, and the answer is no, they aren't:


“So,” I asked the head of the shoe design studio at Louis Vuitton in Paris recently, “when are you going to do a shoe for you know, wearing?” The slightly wounded reply was that if they had money for every time someone made a smart-aleck comment like that, they would be very rich indeed, but that actually, there were no plans to introduce lower heels in the foreseeable future.

It's pretty much the same story at other fashion shoes houses - officially, at least. “Our customer is a fashion customer” one PR said, implying that anyone not prepared to stagger through her day in 105mm has obviously given up the fight to look good. Another told me that their 35mm to 55mm heels were doing very nicely - with the “older” customer.

Great. Wanting a shoe you can walk in now categorises you as a geriatric. In some of the more fashionable stores, you actually have to ask to see a mid-height heel - they're not on display. Oh, the shame. Sidling into the adult section of the video store and asking to see the stuff with animals probably has more kudos.

“The simple fact,” Rupert Sanderson tells me on the phone from the shoe factory in Florence, “is that heels just look sexier, stronger and more arresting the higher they are. With the advent of the concealed platform, heels can be even higher. Technically, the sky's the limit. I keep doing lower heels, and some of them look quite strong - but the eye gets distracted. We're used to height.

“The other reason why designers still push the extreme heel is because that's what women come to us for. Practicality is what they go to the high street for.”

12 comments:

Ms Baroque said...

Er - that's interesting. Because the high street is aping the design houses with its slavishly high heels. I haven't bought any shoes this summer. I'm mainly wearing a pair of platform sandals I bought last year in Office, some silver top Shop ballet flats, and a pair of black patent sandals I've had for about three years.

Anastasia said...

I haven't bought anything either.
I've tried some Gucci shoes and the like, but they made me feel like a pole dancer and not in a good way. Only, there wouldn't be much dancing for me in these shoes. More sitting and slow hobbling.
Neither dignified nor sexy.
I really don't see what's wrong with being able to actually walk in one's shoes and maybe even catch the bus in them.

Toby Wollin said...

It's all Chinese footbinding, folks - just in a different form. Sexy yes - but also painful, slow, and dangerous.

greying pixie said...

And as long as this trend continues Birkenstock is laughing all the way to the bank too - what I mean is that no wonder Birkenstock are so successful, as they seem to be the only popular flattie around.

Well I'm off to Italy next week where I'll be stocking up on really elegant, sensibly heeled beautiful leather shoes and sandals of the sort that will fill that huge void created by LV, Gucci and Prada on the one hand and Birkenstock on the other. I would recommend this sort of mercy dash to any woman over 40 in the same desperate state that I'm in!

Gi said...

On a side note, I wore my sky high Stella McCartneys today (5" high!) and my boss-lady's reaction is "wow, you must be wearing your crazy heels today, you're my height!" (she was in ballet flats)

Deja Pseu said...

This is why I don't buy "designer" shoes*. If I can't walk, it doesn't matter how "good" they look. Greying pixie, can I stow away in your luggage on your next trip to Italy?

*I should note that Ferragamo makes some nice mid-heel shoes for us old bats.

Rosaria said...

Last time I posted a comment on shoes I put my foot in my mouth...yes Toby, it's all Chinese footbinding...

Thank God for the Italians et al, I have worshipped their summer sandals for years

Miss Janey said...

Toby Wollin is right: chinese foot-binding!

Miss J would GLADLY spend more money to find fabulous shoes she can actually walk in.

Stephanie said...

Vertiginous heels make me well over 6' tall. I feel like Gigantor, ready to stomp flat all of Tokyo. Add to that my unstable left ankle and all the natural grace of a wounded buffalo, and what a pretty sight have we...

Anonymous said...

This is the ugly aspect of fashion (well, one of them) where we're dictated to and told (by mostly male designers who never have to wear heels themselves) what we should want because it 'looks better'. And when we're not obedient, well too bad because there's no middle ground.

One of the reasons I got out of the fashion industry and yes, thank god for Birkenstocks.

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased that I've not had to resort to the ugliness of Birkenstocks. Instead, I've gone with a 1940's playshoe for the summer - http://www.remixvintageshoes.com/darapewter.html

So comfortable and cute with just about every day dress I own.

Rollergirl said...

I find this hard to believe. Fashion is cyclical and there's only so high these shoes can go. (I don't think the 6 inch heels even look nice off the runway, and don't even talk to me about the concealed platform ...tacky-ola!) Someone like Miuccia (or even, hey, the kids on the street?) will instigate a shorter heel and the rest will follow. That's my prediction anyway.