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Isabel Marant wedge trainers are back: 5 other shoes we never thought we’d see again

·5-min read
Isabel Marant’s new Balskee wedge trainer, which updates the designer’s iconic original, the Beckett (Isabel Marant)
Isabel Marant’s new Balskee wedge trainer, which updates the designer’s iconic original, the Beckett (Isabel Marant)

In a major throwback to the early 2010s, Isabel Marant is relaunching her iconic wedge trainer in a new silhouette, called the Balskee.

The Balskee is modelled after the French designer’s original, the Beckett, but with added height to the heel and a platform sole.

The wedge shoe makes its comeback 10 years after the original design was launched. Marant said of her new design: “I’ve never wanted to stop wearing them. The most comfortable things are the things you always wear and that you are fed up with.”

The instantly recognisable shoe, in all its chunky, velcro-strappy glory, was a favourite of off-duty models such as Gisele Bundchën and Miranda Kerr.

Celebrities also wore them in droves and adorned the feet of Beyoncé, Ciara, Nicki Minaj and Ashley Tisdale. Singer Alicia Keys launched her own collection with Reebok in 2013, further driving the trend into the masses.

But by 2014, the wedge trainer had lost its momentum and petered out of the public consciousness. Marant never stopped selling the Beckett and wedge trainers are still worn by many but not nearly in the volumes we saw about a decade ago.

However, it isn’t the only unexpected shoe trend comeback. We take a look at four others we were surprised to see again in 2021.

Buffalo trainers

Buffalo trainers were first made popular by the Spice Girls in the late 1990s (Buffalo/Prezly)
Buffalo trainers were first made popular by the Spice Girls in the late 1990s (Buffalo/Prezly)

These huge, chunky platform trainers that make you tower above everyone else were first catapulted into the British psyche by the Spice Girls. The footwear brand that started it all, Buffalo, has existed since 1979 but became especially popular from the mid-90s to the early 2000s.

After the Spice Girls stomped around in the brand’s nearly 4-inch (10cm) platform shoe, it exploded in popularity before, like most trends, fading. But Buffalo’s recent foray into the US market has fuelled a resurgence, with numerous other “athleisure” shoe brands vying for a chunk of its success.

The almost comically large shoes – which were once described as “the best ugly sneakers” – have been worn by celebrities including Billie Eilish and Gigi Hadid, not to mention countless streetwear influencers. Considering the resurgence of the 90s fashion aesthetic, including spaghetti straps and flared jeans, it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the beloved Buffalo trainers are back too.

Crocs

Strawberry Crocs, a favourite of influencers all over social media (Crocs)
Strawberry Crocs, a favourite of influencers all over social media (Crocs)

Like Marmite, you either love Crocs or you hate them. The rubber clog is one of the most divisive fashion items in 2021, having taken almost 20 years to shed its reputation of being an ugly shoe only worn for the sake of practicality.

Crocs began popping up on the feet of influencers last year and the brand has released a number of cute and colourful designs since. A pair of white Crocs with strawberries printed all over them became so popular they sold out earlier this year.

The fashion world is currently in love with chunky platform Crocs and recently, the brand teamed up with Balenciaga to design a stiletto version of the shoe. Whatever you make of them, it seems these clever clogs won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Flatforms

Gaia ankle-wrap espadrille sandals by Stella McCartney (Bergdorf Goodman)
Gaia ankle-wrap espadrille sandals by Stella McCartney (Bergdorf Goodman)

Flatforms, which are any flat shoe with a uniformly thick sole, were seen gracing runways from New York to Milan in time for spring. The shoe offers both height and comfort without the literal blood, sweat and tears that sometimes come with wearing high heels, and with the world emerging from lockdown, it’s no wonder flatforms are making a comeback.

According to the Macmillan dictionary, the style was dubbed “the shoe of 2011” at the peak of its popularity. They are usually between three and five inches thick but some are even higher.

Despite appearing to be a practical solution to adding height without the heels, flatforms have had their fair share of criticism. They’ve been compared to wearing bricks and due to the inflexibility of a super-thick sole, it’s often easy to trip or twist an ankle when walking on uneven surfaces.

Thong sandals

State yellow chunky sole thong strap sandals (Public Desire)
State yellow chunky sole thong strap sandals (Public Desire)

The resurgence of thong sandals, which are a throwback to the 90s, can be pinpointed to the Olsen twins’ brand, The Row. The label’s leather Ginza sandals were put in the spotlight in summer 2020 and the trend has only ramped up this year.

The Independent has branded thong sandals the It-girl shoe of summer, as newer designs have ridded the shoe of its unfashionable and uncomfortable reputation. Now the darlings of fashion editors’ wardrobes everywhere, they offer huge variety – whether in luxe fabrics, flatform versions or elegant kitten heels.

Jelly shoes

Gucci’s jelly sandals, which have become extremely popular on social media (Bloomingdale’s)
Gucci’s jelly sandals, which have become extremely popular on social media (Bloomingdale’s)

A grown-up mule version of nostalgic jelly sandals from Gucci has thrown this 90s style back into the fashion arena and spurred on by its popularity on Tiktok. The nearly US$400 (approximately £286) designer shoe has inspired others from brands such as Off-White, Moschino, and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as numerous cheaper dupes for the trend-loving masses.

Jelly sandals have a long history, surfacing in the 1940s as a fun yet functional shoe for children. They’re waterproof and can come in a dazzling array of colours, making them extremely child-friendly.

The adult versions of jelly sandals in 2021 are no less colourful and have the iconic gummy look the shoes are known for. Pastel or candy hues are currently in vogue, along with very chunky soles or thicker straps to elevate the look.

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