Why I hope the ugly shoe trend is here to stay


2011. Kings Cross, Sydney. The women move in groups, stiff and zombie-like, unsure of their position as they wobble high above the ground, knee and ankle joints locked at difficult angles.

It’s all because of what’s attached to their feet.

The “platform heel” phenomenon was popularized by Victoria Beckham and Lady Gaga. You know the genre: honking big slabs, accompanied by towering six-inch heels.

As a size 11 for women with wide feet these styles were generally not available in my size which I am now grateful because they probably would have sent me collapsing to the ground.

Pointy flats that pinched toes were something of a still-fashionable alternative, along with unsupported strappy sandals that resulted in painful six-month plantar fasciitis.

Why does foot pain have to be gendered?

What I’m saying is that I don’t have a fabulous relationship with what is generally considered to be women’s shoes.

They hurt me, they blistered me, and they evenly distributed the weight of my size 22 frame so that I lost all sensation in the soles of my feet.

I’m convinced that high heel shoes are designed to compel anyone who wants to enjoy a part of an evening that doesn’t involve going straight from the cab door to a sit-down dinner. In other words, to have full autonomy or freedom of movement.

Early days have taught us that wavering all day on Jimmy Choos, Carrie-Bradshaw-style, was supposedly normal, but my preference was for comfy flats, which fashion-conscious friends have informed me of. in fact “lesbian sandals”. While the feet looked universally quite similar, it looked like they were not only gendered, but also had a binary sexual orientation – with the understanding that you had to pick sides.


The trend of ugly shoes normalizes comfort

Fast forward to 2021, where more and more people seem to be enjoying comfortable fashion.

The once much despised Crocs have become acceptable red carpet outfit at the Oscars, and celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ruby Rose and Nicki Minaj have either collaborated – or taken nude photos – with Crocs. Both, in the case of American music producer Diplo.

Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe frequently discuss the rubber clogs with holes in the context of ‘farshun,’ a segment on their ABC’s Bang On Pop Culture Podcast.

The pandemic has played a key role in popularizing the trend, according to Myf.

“I absolutely think it’s because of the lockdown last year,” she said.

“Lockdown was a time when we realized the value of comfort over fashion, and often what is most comfortable is not considered fashionable.

“We realized how painful heels can be, and also how really dysfunctional they really are unless you’re sitting down. Which isn’t really conducive to an active lifestyle.

“Ugly shoes definitely have a moment”

It’s not just about WFH comfort. Australian fashion week has come and gone this year with no heeled clogs in sight among the decadent street style ensemble.

One of those street stylists this year was Suzan Mutesi. The Ugandan-Australian model, fashion influencer and extraordinary author-turned-author on Instagram has an unfailing affection for flat flats and “ugly” shoes.


“Ugly shoes definitely have a moment now,” she says.

“During Australian Fashion Week, I noticed that people were staying away from killer heels.

“They wore thicker, more comfortable and wearable shoes like ‘ugly shoes’, little grandma’s heels, chic retro-style platforms, daddy’s sneakers, medium sneakers.[-height] block heels, sandals and outdoor boots. “

Mutesi says she is definitely a supporter of the “ugly” shoe trend.

“I have at least five pairs of ugly shoes,” she says. “They are simply unique and very comfortable.

Will comfort go the distance?

Not everyone is here for the more comfortable trend.

Victoria Beckham recently said that she “would rather die” than wear a pair of Crocs sent to her by Justin Bieber, from her collaboration with the brand.

Screenshot of an Instagram Stories image by Victoria Beckham with an
When Justin Bieber sent Victoria Beckham a pair of Lilac Crocs from her collaboration with the brand, she wasn’t impressed. (

Instagram: Victoria Beckham


So, will comfort become a more permanent thing in the footwear industry? Or is it just another trend that will soon die out?

“I think ugly shoes are just a trend and will happen again every now and then. But beauty will always be a pain… as they say, ‘No pain, no gain,'” says Mutesi.

Myf emphasizes that “fashion is cyclical”.

“Everything ends up coming back. It’s a centuries-old tradition.

“Prepare your calves, ladies.”

Personally, pandemic or not, I will continue to avoid high heels when shopping for shoes. I go to the men’s section, where it is easier to find my size, in search of comfort.

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