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From loafers to Crocs, Birkenstocks to ballet flats, comfy, lace-free shoes have been big for a good while now.
Partly down to the pandemic, comfort has become essential in every aspect of fashion.
And as the world reopened and people started working from offices again, while we didn’t want to stay dressed down, we’d also been wearing slippers and trackies non-stop, so it’s hard to let go of that level of cosiness.
On top of that, the trend cycle keeps on spinning faster and faster, so it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with whatever the hot new trainers are – and they’re rarely cheap.
Do you really want to part with your money for something that could go out of style in six months?
In an article by the New York Times’ styles desk, news assistant Callie Holtermann, predicted that 2023 will see the end of shoelaces.
‘Maybe we’ve become more willing to wear lightly disguised slippers outside since spending so much time cooped up during the pandemic,’ Callie wrote.
‘Or maybe we’re just sick of tying two Boy Scout-level knots every day before 9 a.m.’
Indeed, Clearpay, has recorded a year-on-year increase of 116% for searches for Uggs, 173% increase in searches for Birkenstocks, and a 744% increase in searches for Crocs.
In a way, it’s just the natural order of things – the Crocs and Birks you used to rinse your parents for having are simply too comfortable to resist long-term.
The world is hard enough, so why not at least put your feet in something easy to get through it?
Shoe designer Rachel Kelly tells Metro.co.uk that our turn away from laces is an ‘obvious’ development after the years we’ve just endured.
‘Things were going in this direction,’ she explains, ‘but Covid seems to have then hit fast-forward on some of these trends.
‘The pandemic allowed our “take the bins out” shoes to become sometimes the only things we wore outside, and this perhaps helped. We are essentially lazy, and there are a lot of very good-looking lazy options out there.
‘Even the return of the riding boot silhouette sits within this to some extent: it’s just a very slick grown-up version. I think ballet shoes are also coming back, in part because they’re so simple and quick, and sure to also then be influenced by the filming of the Amy Winehouse biopic.’
Founder and CEO of FINDS, a fashion tech start-up, Jemma Stacey agrees that ‘comfort was key’ in recent years – but that doesn’t mean people only want practicality in their footwear these days.
She adds: ‘People’s desire to dress up and make a bold style statement has become a noteworthy theme. S/S 2023 runways have made it clear shoes will make or break a look, so no wonder people are forgoing practical trainers, and embracing a variety of styles made to be seen.
‘Clogs, part of the ‘ugly shoe’ clan, still remain a popular practical alternative, recently being upgraded to platform clogs, embellished clogs, shearling clogs, the list goes on.
‘Ballet flats, biker boots, pointed kitten heels, knee-high boots… these were just a few of the biggest shoe trends of the past year, kicking off the year strong and paving the way for more fresh footwear such as bubble platforms to rule the streets (and feeds!).’
SilkFred‘s Head Stylist, Megan Watkins, says our deep love for laceless shoes dates back almost 10 years.
She explains: ‘We’ve slowly seen the rise of laceless shoes, starting with sliders in 2014 when the likes of Rihanna and Elle Fanning were seen out and about wearing them with socks.
‘More recently, in the past year or so we’ve seen the clog rise to become the shoe of the moment, closely followed by the Ugg boot, both proving popular choices with Gen-Z thanks to the influence of social media trendsetters.
‘Whilst these shoes are coincidentally all very comfortable and casual, I think we can attribute the sudden popularity of such shoes to the power of celebrity and social media. The main selling point for consumers is that these shoes are approved by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, with most consumers opting for the “must-have” brands instead of dupes.’
Meanwhile, fashion and trends expert Karine Laudort doesn’t entirely agree that laces are dead in the water for this, or any year.
She says: ‘Brands such as Yeezy’s (with their spaceship-like shoes), controversial Balenciaga (sock sneakers), and Givenchy and Reebok’s clogs, have definitely contributed to making these types of footwear even more popular and trendy.
‘Nevertheless, clogs, Crocs, and other laceless type shoes will never match the swag, style, and comfort sneakers bring to the table, whether for men or women.’
When it comes to sports or walking, she believes trainers will always rule.
‘More importantly, whilst the material they are made in may feel comfortable, backless shoes can cause pain as they are not made for long-distance walks and do not offer heel support,’ she adds.
Megan concurs, saying: ‘Trainers have been around for decades, and have proven their versatility with how many trainer styles have evolved, ensuring there’s a trainer for everyone and all ages. All it takes is for a trainer to go viral on social media, and this will definitely nab the number one footwear spot again.’
If you want a bit of laceless shopping inspo, Rachel recommends taking a gander at Crocs, Salehe Bembury, Birkenstocks, Suicoke, Teva, Arizona Love, No 6 Store clogs, and Kitty Clogs.
She adds: ‘The Row zip front boot which has spawned a plethora of take-downs, the Blundestone Chelsea Boots, return of Ugg boots at a lower easy-on height. Even Dr Martens now have a clog.
‘There are also more sophisticated elegant options which use luxe quality materials, such as Toteme mules and Chelsea Boots and even their brilliant pull-on tall boot, which has the allure of being incredibly easy to get on for the lazy in us.
‘It also looks bloody fabulous and will make it look like you made an effort when you really haven’t. See also: Isabel Marant sandals, [plus] Birkenstock collabs with pumped-up buckles and their Dior collaboration.’
Celeb stylist Lauren Glazer is also a Birks fan, saying: ‘Birkenstock clogs have really been seen on every influencer. I live in mine, and I style them up with a thick pair of neutral socks and joggers for the colder months or a bit more dressy like below if I’m going out.
‘Those Prada loafers you can slip on for a meeting are everywhere. The loafer is timeless – Hailey Bieber wears them perfectly. I’d say they’ve been a constant through the years so if you haven’t already maybe 2023 is your year to purchase a pair.
‘It has also been a massive thing to see laceless shoes such as comfy Uggs to be worn with activewear. Saffron Barker recently styled hers up with a Gymshark set. The North Face puffer slippers worn out by Kendal Jenner really enhanced the fact that comfort is cool. They are only £60 and the comfort is unlimited.
‘Y2K boxing trainers are also becoming more popular. Y2K fashion is back and boxing boots are often laceless. Outfit with contrasting pieces such as a dress and cargo skirts.’
Ugg Classic Mini Regenerate Boot
Birkenstock Boston Shearling Clog, Suede Leather
The North Face Thermoball Tent mules in black, from Asos
Steve Madden Marleigh Loafers
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