Fall 2002 - Footwear fashion Report
Reported by-
Meg Rottman
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Facing a slow economy and uncertain world view, fashion takes a conservative approach for Fall 2002, leaving behind brightly colored sequins and embracing pancake flat heels, rounded toe shapes and darker, more basic shades. While brown in its many tones will be strong, black is "the new black" and will be seen on every silhouette from leather sneakers to high-shafted boots.

In fact boots, always a dominant shape for fall, will be stronger than ever. Influenced by television (HBO's Sex and the City) and movies (Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge) boots are tall and tightly corseted with lacing up the back, or short and shoe-like, scooped out just below the ankle. They range from high-shafted biker and urban military to fringed suede hippie, romantic English country equestrian and metal stiletto-heeled back-zipped feminine styles with dramatic variations in heel heights.

A new twist for fall is open footwear, introduced for warmer climates or as buy now-wear now fashion. This sandal, taken directly from spring, adds an ankle wrap and a wedged heel in dark, smoky colors and winterized treatments of suede and patent. In cooler, climates, the clog takes over as the newest shape in categories ranging from sport and performance to après ski and dress as well as men's and children's casuals.

Sneakers are back this fall with a vengeance, taking two separate spots on the fashion scene. They are updated and futuristic in metallic leathers, logo'ed jacquard or two-toned bowling styles. Or they are old-school retro with such classics as the Converse Chuck Taylor, the Nike Air, the Reebok leather and the 70's Earthshoe. Urban street shoes now make way for such sporty silhouettes as form fitting boxing boots, racing flats, padded simplified skate and canvas basketball footwear.
Going back to basics, the look in footwear is simple and natural, with neutral autumnal colors and classic treatments of ankle wrapped belts, oversized antiqued bronze buckles, clip on buttons and surprising textures such as faux furs.

For the first time in many years, coloration is limited to just a few shades. The winter Olympics and current patriotism have spurred an interest in red, white and blue. But instead of the strong combinations of spring, this time the three colors are used individually. Red stands alone in strong tones of terracotta, burnt tomato and classic lipstick shades. Winter white is creamy and soft, making white boots and pumps look as standard as a basic ruffled shirt. And blue changes from the pale robin egg of spring to denim and navy for fall.

With leather still very strong in ready-to-wear, shoes and boots mimic the trend in all shades of brown, from caramel to chocolate with treatments that are burnished, vegetable dyed, aged, tooled, rusted, pearlized, stitched, patented, and discretely distressed. Other fabrications include corduroy (in fine or wide wale) menswear tweeds and hounds tooth's, black and white patterns, printed velvet and paisley as embroidery. While novelties are more important in the handbag market, shoes do offer a few horsy motifs, cartoons and graphics, including fabric overprinted with words.

Men's shoes are sleek and polished with such classics as brown oxfords, patent leather loafers, London-inspired booties, and traditional Western boots. Suits are back at work and on their heels are suede wing tips, country gentlemen slip-ons and Euro-styles. The only departure from basics is in leisure, which boasts wrap-around blown soles in black, pebble grain leather sneakers and top stitching in contrasting colors.

Kids shoes take a break this season from juvenile character shoes and instead turn to grownup take downs with pull tab boots, sling backs, clogs, and boots galore. The little customer has become more sophisticated, taking a page from Prada with fresh Euro-comfort and fashion colors. A red patent-leather boot is topped with black faux fur, a short bootie is belted and a mary jane is made from cherry fabric with black polka dots. Velcro takes a backseat to tied-up sneakers, and the bright colors of spring move over for the olives, eggplants, tan, and chocolates of fall.

The shoes of the season are clean, sleek and conservative. With flatter heels and classic stylings they are all about ease and simplicity. A tall shafted boot in basic red; a princess-heel slide in camel, or a choked-up shoe in winter white pair with the designer collections seen on the runway - a balance of tradition and comfort,refinement and simple beauty.


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