A History of "Ugly Shoes" on the Runway
Podiatrists everywhere are cheering for joy—because "ugly" (read: feet-friendly) shoes are gearing up to make a fashionably unfashionable return, due in no small part to Christopher Kane who debuted a footwear collaboration with—wait for it—Crocs during his spring 2017 show at London Fashion Week. Yes, Crocs. The very suggestion of which has the power to cause any fashion editor to shudder in horror. The act of slipping on a perforated rubber pair is one that has been decried as a fashion faux pas for anyone over the age of five. But perhaps this high-fashion makeover will change that mindset before we write them off completely. Finished with a marble print and decorated with rough mineral stones (such as sodalite, red leopard, malachite, diaspro, and zebra jasper), these ChrisKane Crocs are still "ugly," but in a quirky-cool man-repeller-y way.
The beauty of an ugly shoe is that it telegraphs an effortless IDGAF attitude. It's less "done," it's less in-your-face sexy compared with a sleek-and-skinny stiletto. And it's why ever since designer Phoebe Philo sent out fur-blanketed Birkenstock-like sandals on the Celine spring 2013 runway, so many embraced it in all of its "ugly" (and super comfortable) glory, prompting the resurrection of the sensible sandal in the years following. And then came the look-alike Tevas, and then Dr. Scholls, and then flip flops, which brings us back to present day. So in a style salute to Crocs's first-ever coming-out on the fashion scene, we're taking a look back at all the "ugly" shoes to ever stomp and clunk their way down the runway.
Christopher Kane, Spring 2017
Crocs's coming-out moment in fashion: on the Christopher Kane runway, printed with marble swirls, and festooned with mineral stones.
Preen, Spring 2017
In another high-fashion "ugly shoe" collaboration, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi teamed up with UGG to launch four shoe styles: black and white bow-bedecked sandals (some as flatforms, others just flat). They don't look anything like the shoe brand's popular shapeless boots, but the news of this joint venture alone is enough to make this list.
Alexander Wang, Spring 2017
No fashion editor would be caught in flip-flops outside the beach. But these leather-soled pairs with buckled ankle cuffs? Currently questioning our fashion principles.
J. Crew, Spring 2016
Dr. Scholls took advantage of the ugly shoe trend and partnered with J. Crew to launch a collaboration, where chic takes of the classic style included monochrome white and gingham print.
Marc Jacobs, Spring 2015
We shouldn't have wanted these clunky velvet-lined Dr. Scholls-look-alikes, but we did. Was it the velvet? Or that it hit a nostalgic note? It was probably all of the above.
Markus Lupfer, Spring 2015
More nostalgic than "ugly," glitter jelly sandals got a grown-up makeover at Markus Lupfer's spring 2015 presentation with a pair blanketed in iridescent studs and gems, and a heeled silhouette.
Charlotte Ronson, Spring 2015
From a fashion POV, it's the minimalist version of the sporty sandal—velcro straps, no embellishment, a neutral color palette. To everyone else, they're Tevas.
Dior Haute Couture, Spring 2014
The prettiest sprinkling of floral sequins make these the chicest pair of Aqua Socks we've ever seen. It helps, too, that they're couture. And they're Dior.
Marc Jacobs, Spring 2014
It was only a matter of time before Tevas got their time in the spotlight. Marc Jacobs riffed on the sporty sandal with rope-like straps, a rubbery sole, and a Victorian-inspired goth gown as its fashion pairing.
Prada, Spring 2014
In an effort to prettify the "ugliness" of a super chunky sandal, Miuccia Prada embellished the straps with fancy gem stones.
Celine, Spring 2013
Ah, the "ugly shoe" that started it all. Designer Phoebe Philo kicked off the ugly shoe trend when she debuted fur-cushioned Birkenstock-like sandals. Traditionally ugly in shape, yet completely irresistible.