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Spring 2000- Footwear Trend Report
Reported by: Meg Rottman, StylePR

They're sleeker and smoother, opened up, updated and well-designed in total sophistication. After last year's steady diet of bigger bottoms, oversized uppers and ultra casual comfort, shoes and boots for fall 2000 have trimmed down and dressed up. Gorgeous colorations, slim little silhouettes and feminine tailoring have created a fashion direction that begs to be noticed.

The new push for footwear femininity is part of a radical change on the ready-to-wear scene. In recent couture runway shows, evening wear and late day dressing dominated, replacing the casual sportswear, which had played a big part in the last few seasons. At the same time clothing manufacturers were creating "dress up Thursday" in an attempt to save massive sales lost from the pervasive "casual Friday" phenomenon. These trends, combined with the resurgence of suited dressing, have brought tailored accessories back with a vengeance.

While some footwear designers are touting a "return to color", others say that after the infusion of intensive color into spring, fall should be darker. Either way, brown and gray have bowed out and black has taken their place as the "new" neutral. What color exists is toned down with purple becoming burgundy, plum or cognac; green becoming loden, khaki and moss; and brights returning only as trim. Red is the exception and it shines in sueded snakes, bright patent boots and metalicized leather.

The real news in footwear is the heel. It's back, from stiletto 70 mm high heeled boots to 50 mm career sling backs. Heel shapes range from fun and funky to elegant and include angular, Cuban, architectural, molded, wedged, sliced and spooled styling. The only shoe element newer than the heel is the toe, and fall shows them turned up, rounded, squared, elongated, snipped and opened up.

Sandals which were back in full force for spring are, surprise, even bigger for fall. They are strappy for evening but make an appearance in career shoes as well. Variations included every type of cut-out, opened-up shoe including mules, sling backs, ankle or t-strap, opened toed, double D'orsay and open shank silhouettes.

Even boots, a perennial fall favorite are sandalized with daring cut outs at the heel, the toe or the side. Created in every height, style and color for every purpose, boots for fall are now all things to all people. Of particular note are an influx of slim shaped boots with sexy pointed toes and spiked heels seen at their best in ultra shiny red patent leather.

Boots also serve function with even more features built into hikers, trail runners and walkers. New technology includes therapy magnets, temperature moderating footbeds, antibacterial linings, and waterproof fabrics. Continuously inspired by athletic performance footwear, designers in every category (from high end collections to casual comfort) have incorporated sports looks into their lines with everything from true sneakers to boat shoes on sexy spool heels. While boots and sandals lead the fall fashion scene a few classic silhouettes continue to be important including the Mary Jane, clogs and anything Western. Slippers too, which only recently were considered boring and staid, are now making an appearance in fun junior lines.

Other junior looks, in a category which always embraces the ends of the fashion spectrum, include Persian and Eastern Indian influences, the use of Velcro, buckles and ties and athletic feel translated to junior dress. Fabrications take their inspiration from retro's elegant use of real fur with faux shaggy, hairy surfaces and embellishment taking the form of applique, feathers and embroidery. Fabric is layered over leather giving it a futuristic flossed cotton candy appearance or beaded for a "rock candy" look. And snakes, crocs and pony appear, painted in greens, metallics and multi colorations.

Footwear concepts tend to start at the junior/ teen level, trending both up to women's and down to kid's fashion. So, for this fall, kids will now have a taste of last year's faster styling including slides, clogs and platforms for 5-year olds. Athletic features are now a required part of even dressier shoes with flex bottoms, padded heels, softer triple density soles and updated technology. Girls' everyday shoes are taking a more "Sunday-best" feel while boy's styles are looking to more rugged looks.

In menswear, formal dress is experiencing its own renaissance and footwear is not far behind. For fall, classic shapes predominate with lace ups, oxfords and square toe boots. The color pallet is basic with sand, cinnamon, black, brown, smoke and burgundy in smooth leathers. Euro-comfort is the buzzword and the shape is more anatomical with oblique lasts and platform heels in classic handsewns. With the dress shoe business in transition, footwear manufacturers are offering a whole wardrobe of footwear styling including weekend, office, formal, active and casual office - the new expanded category.

Running between extremes from high boots to low strappy sandals, fall footwear has taken the best from spring and created its own elegant looks. It is classic femininity modernized with a touch of technology. Or it is statement-making fabrications, such as snake or croc, zipped up the back. Or it is Euro-casual gone to the office. In any case it is about ease and simplicity and a return to what works.


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