It’s Spring 2016 and Nordstrom’s says that flats are today’s hottest fashion trend. What’s the deal?
Comfort Shoes are Hot
Yesterday: Shoes as fashion statement
Young women have always used shoes to display their sophisticated fashion sense (as well as their sexy legs and elegant feet).
Sadly, as these women aged, they were forced to relinquish the high heels, narrow toes, platform soles, etc., in favor of the better balance, pain-free walking and arch support they got from, well, “old lady shoes,” (as my mother used to call them). Plain flats, in plain black, navy, brown, tan, or white. Depressing, at best.
Why we need comfort shoes
As we age, we wear out the fat pads at the bottom of our feet, so shoe soles should be thicker and softer. Our reaction time slows down and our balance isn’t as good, so the heels have to be lower and thicker. On top of that—cartilage thins in all our joints; our muscles, tendons and soft tissue tighten up; our arches flatten and need support.
Today: Shoes as fashion statement
Baby boomers are aging and they, too, are demanding style with their comfort. Plus, they’re willing and able to pay for the privilege. The result? The $100-and-up fashion comfort shoe is the fastest growing segment in the women’s footwear market—up 6 percent from last year.
Comfort shoes can range from $100 to $600
A truly comfortable shoe is engineered differently and costs more to make. Also, multiple fashion, style and color options cost more to stock than a few basic styles and colors. For example, Stuart Weitzman has added high-end pumps with chunkier heels and more padding to his collection. Brands that might have been dismissed as too old ladyish because of their comfort label (e.g. Aerosoles or Naturalizers) have brightened up their fashion image. New American and European shoemakers have entered the market, raising standards and increasing options.
A win-win-win result
Three groups profit from this trend
1. Baby boomers and other older women can have well-dressed feet that are pain-free.
2. Younger women with foot problems gain multiple dress shoe options.
3. Shoe manufacturers are increasing their retail market share.
For more information:
• npr.com - the rise of comfort shoes - primary source
• shop.nordstrom.com - Nordstrom's flats
• amazon.com - under $100 comfort shoes/flats