The Ugly State of Shoe Collaborations

Two truths: Fashion has long been enamored by the “ugly shoe.” Balenciaga made chunky dad sneakers; Gucci offered fur-lined loafers; and Schiaparelli introduced anatomical boots that look more like they belong in a surrealism exhibition than on someone’s feet.

But fashion is also obsessed with collaborations. In recent years, casual shoe brands like Birkenstock and Converse have teamed with fashion houses like Manolo Blahnik and Rick Owens on ambitious high-low collaborations.

So what happens when there is crossover, and both of those boxes are ticked? Just ask the British designer Simone Rocha, who released a bejeweled collaboration with Crocs on April 10 that was priced between $175 and $275, depending on the style. It very quickly sold out.

Just five days earlier, the New York label Collina Strada released a collection with Ugg. The collaboration included platform clogs adorned with dog paw illustrations and Mary Janes affixed with silver spikes on the toe and heel.

With even more collaborations on the horizon, and a new viral shoe meme basically every week — hello, nightmarish Pringles boot — the Styles desk convened to discuss the state of fashion footwear, ugly or otherwise.

Collina Strada Mary Janes in an abstract floral pattern with metal spikes. Credit…Collina Strada
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