Centuries and Decades 2000-present time
Footwear fashion of 2000s resembles a supermarket, where all the trends of the 20-th century have more or less manifested themselves. With such a great diversity of the trends one have to differentiate stylized design and proper footwear design.
Fashionable stylized design makes the same model look like 40s or 60s with the help of different cut, materials or colors. Shoes can be stylized to like 18-th or 19-th century models or like ethnic footwear with the use of traditional ornaments, beads or fringe.
The most popular stylization of the 2000s was use of subculture fashions, like hippie-schick or Boho chic and glamour punk-rock mixed with attributes of BDSM. Equally popular were ethnic, historical, sport stylizations as well as use of movie heroes and video games and cartoon figures. Changes in the shape of the shoes can be well traced in the evolution of the women’s evening shoes. In the beginning of the decade elongated toe was dominating in shoes both for men and women. Ballerina shoes with rounded toes were the only alternative to this style. Approximately by 2003 footwear with rounded toes started gaining popularity and in the mod-2000s pointed toe looked quite outdated, although it did not disappear from the market. By the end of the decade closed shoes had mostly rounded toe.
Stiletto heels have stayed vogue all the time but in the second half of the 2000s platform and wedge shoes outnumbered. Regardless of what hight the wedge might be it will still look more placid that provocative heels.Platforms started to look like striptease dancers’ shoes and footwear balancing on the edge of erotica and debauchery found its way into the wardrobes of many women.
Sandal shoes with many straps became de rigeur for summer or evening wear. Their design was inspired by the footwear of the ancient Greece and Rome. Black matte or patent leather shoes with metal accessories resembled aggressive fetishist footwear, while light and graceful models with strings and ribbons evoked romantic feelings.
Motorcycle and jockey footwear was an inspiration for the boots, that were popular with men and women in the beginning of the decade. In the second half of the decade high mid-thigh boots with stiletto heels came into fashion. Designers used fetishist footwear as a prototype for these boots slightly dignifying them using sophisticated cut, better materials and elegant accessories.
Modern technology allows for any shape of the heel, limited only by designer’s fantasy. Thus the heels started to take the undreamed of shapes. Not content with abstract, geometric and svelte forms, designers fashioned the heels in the form of specific objects. Ladies feet were supported by stylized Greek columns, angels, elephants; the heels transformed into pineapples, berries and even split itself into the pair of animals limbs.
Top designers and brands
The list of the top designers in the 2000s did not change much. Women continued to worship footwear from Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo. Shoe designers stood by their creed, so fashion tendencies have little influence on their popularity. Moreover the most popular models are the ones that with little changes have been in production for many years.
Innovative tendencies were pursued by Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. Italians are still leading in the design of medium range shoes. Among the well-known Italian brands one can mention Zanotti, Casadei, Cesare Paciotti and Pollini; Tod’s is still well positioned in the prestige casual shoes. Salvatore Ferragamo made collections for younger customers; Prada and Miu Miu surprised shoppers with every collection masterfully exploiting historical as well as cosmic futurism.
High technologies and fashion for futuristic streamlined forms have led to birth of constructions, which could not have been realized before or were too exclusive, out of reach for average customer. Shoe model Möbius, presented to the fashion world in 2003 by United Nude, have instantly turned into an icon of design. Revolutionary idea of one leather strip, which twisting and warping forms back, sole and vamp of the shoe, became a hit for many fashion seasons.
One of the pioneers on the plastic shoes market, Melissa have only gained during the 2008 financial crisis. Unlike other expensive brands, Melissa was offering fashionable stylish items at an affordable price. The company invites for cooperation industrial and fashion designers and even architects to create new shoe fashions. Designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, superstar of industrial design Karim Rashid and incomparable Zaha Hadid have worked with Melissa. Another important point is that Melissa products are 100% ecologically friendly, which help compete on the market, where social responsibility of corporations is a big issue for customers.
Mass fashion in informal style
Informal, casual style continued to win bigger share in men’s as well as women’s wardrobe. This is not surprising, taking into account that many companies, including most conservative ones, let their employees to wear casual styles not only on Fridays, but on other days as well. Besides, the number of freelancers is constantly rising and these people do need formal clothes. Fashion for casual unisex style was marked by three breakthroughs, which were unprecedented in the history of world shoe market.
In the 1960s, ugg boots became a popular option for surfers who used the boots to keep their feet warm. Surfing helped popularize the boots outside Australia and New Zealand, when Brian Smith started selling the boots in the United States through the company Ugg Holdings, Inc. in 1979. In 1995 Ugg Holdings was sold to Decker Outdoor Co. Initially they were worn for warmth and comfort, and had never been considered fashionable, but in early 2000s sheepskin boots emerged as a fashion trend in the US through Deckers' promotions of the UGG brand, with US and international celebrities. Deckers' promotion of the brand brought it's popularity and recognizability to the international level, making them a must-have in women’s wardrobe.
A similar story happened to Crocs. An American company founded by three friends, who decided to make shoes suitable for boat and yacht owners. Coarse and aggressively looking shoes were arresting attention with vivid colors and in 2003 they made a splash in the fashion world.
Another breakthrough in the know-how in the beginning of the 21st century was creation of sport sandals called Keens. Their success was not as loud as that of Crocs or UGG, but in sports shoes it was a real discovery. Sandals for sport activities were not completely new, they were used for water sports before and even seen on the streets, but Keen have added a protection for fingers with the help of moulded toe, which fully covered them. This was a major improvement and the Keen sandals have quickly won many fans among the new-age travelers.
Iconic and youth footwear
Mass produced footwear in cyber-punk and techno style was in vogue in the first years of the 2000 decade. This fashion was greatly influenced by movies like Martix (1999). Spanish shoe company New Rock have produced shoes with high platform soles with many straps and “predatory” cleats. This were exactly the shoes the young girls impersonating Lara Croft have chosen for the presentation of the Tom Raider video game. Converse sneakers have stayed favorite and strengthened their iconic status among hipsters. The same could be said about classical models of Vans, although the number of followers is more limited.
The latest fad in the youth fashion in the second half of the decade was silver or gold sneakers, especially Adidas.
For those who were brave enough to read to the end. Just to add a touch of personal attitude. I hate Crocs and I think UGGs are the UGGliest shoes in the world, but I have to admit they have their place in the shoe history and may be convenient in some circumstances. To quote Nick Cave they “might be considered handsome at a certain angle in a certain light”.