Jazzy, kinky, sexy. The catwalk footwear for men this season is a refreshing take on the boring boots that most men lug around.
Balenciaga’s first men’s catwalk showed in Paris at the end of June was their spring/summer 2017 show. The show was held on six flights of stairs, with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop. The first model wore a camel coat and brown leather boots, which finished below the knee. The stacked heel was several inches high. These are not shoes for wallflowers. These shoes require a stomp to pull them off. Perhaps a snarl. Most likely, an awkward haircut.
Acne Studios, a Swedish label that has dominated the market for designer jeans and wardrobe staples has maintained its normcore offering by focusing on fashion. Its most recent innovation was the Iggy boot. This platform boot features a 3.35in heel and is an ankle boot. It was worn by Matt Healy, the 1975 frontman. Meanwhile at Vivienne Westwood, a male model trooped out in a pair of platform sandals and socks, a look more likely to be seen on the Marni women’s catwalk.
Charles Jeffrey is an emerging London-based designer. He is also a Central St Martins graduate. His label, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy is a celebration all things club culture (he hosts a night in east London called Loverboy). He is quickly gaining a reputation as a unique take on menswear. He wore platform shoes and tall boys to his most recent show.
Alessandro Michele’s era at Gucci has produced a horsebit backless fur-lined slipper for men – at the time of writing the Gucci website featured no fewer than seven variations on this theme, including a brocade floral design. The shoe was first featured in Michele’s menswear debut collection. A house this large doesn’t produce seven variations of a theme if it hasn’t been around for a year.
Menswear is seeing the greatest growth in shoes, though this may be due to the growing popularity of sneaker culture. Designers are pushing their footwear to extreme limits, but this is not stopping them. Fashion trends are often a reaction to mainstream fashion trends. One reason for the increase in sassier shoes is that they are essentially the opposite of designer sneakers.
Designers have been taking advantage of the 90s for the past decade. This is the last time that I wore stack-heeled boots. I used to wear a pair Buffalo trainers with a thick sole. I also wore a pair platform ankle boots for girls that were not as heavy as the Acne Iggys. The 90s were the era that saw Michael Alig and the New York Club Kids. This period was brought to life by Macaulay Culkin, who played Alig in 2003’s film Party Monster. The crew was very familiar with how to finish their outfits with a (shoe-) bang.
2016 saw the loss of two of music’s greatest champions of heels: .Prince .and .David Bowie. Many images show Bowie in high-heeled footwear during the 1970s. From the thick black soled red boots worn by Aladdin Sane on tour to the high-heeled Diamond Dogs boots, This period also includes the iconic image of Bowie sitting next to a large dog on its hind legs. Photo by Terry O’Neill. His boots remind me of 2017 Balenciaga. Bowie was, of course, in fine-heeled company: Marvin Gaye, the New York Dolls and George Clinton were all fans of a platform during the peak of glam rock, soul funk and disco.
Perhaps the most obvious nod to Bowie at the recent shows came via designer twins Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 who put all their male models for spring/summer in six inches of glam rock boots (reportedly each had to prove they could walk in the boots before they got the gig). Meanwhile the duo also careered down the catwalk to take their bow in matching .sparkly thigh-high platform boots .worn over jeans. This is not a look you would wear to work. This look is best worn with a pair of tailored, slightly shorter trousers and a chunky soled boot (there’s plenty this fall).
It remains to be seen if the rest of the world is ready for men wearing platforms. We haven’t made much progress from the summer fad about men wearing sandals in public. With the continued mash-ups of unisex clothes, both men’s and ladies’ wear, and ongoing media yapping on gender fluidity, it may be that we are heading (quite literally!) to new heights in wardrobe blur.