It’s no secret that good footwear is key when it comes to making a strong first impression. And this season, fashion’s most celebrated designers are offering plenty of ways to put your best foot forward.
From bright colours and chunky wedge soles to wild patterns and prints, AW14 is all about making a statement.
1. Coloured Footwear
An easy way to make a strong statement with your footwear is to inject a serious dose of colour. Historically, shoes for men have typically come in one of two hues: black or brown – but over the past few seasons, brands have been providing all-new, more adventurous styles for the #menswear generation.
One of coloured footwear’s chief proponents for autumn/winter 2014 was Oliver Spencer, who utilised a wide ranging palette. Bright burgundy leather lace-up boots, yellow and orange suede ankle boots, and red leather tasselled loafers were just a selection of designs showcased:
Similarly, Marc by Marc Jacobs featured chunky wedge-soled hi-top trainers in bright white and multi-coloured neons for an attention-grabbing twist on this traditional sportswear style:
Gucci were one of the few brands that took on the challenge of introducing colour to traditional shoe silhouettes, showing a pair of cherry-red lace-up Derbies with a chunky brown sole that are more wearable than this description might suggest.
Ermenegildo Zegna followed suit with a deep burgundy slip-on design, complete with a contrast black sole – a slightly more sober option, but a statement-maker nonetheless:
Finally, Louis Vuitton re-visited the hiking boot – a silhouette that was hugely popular last year and supported Creative Director Kim Jones’ theme of adventure and expedition.
This time around, there was the added twist of contrast colour combinations, as well as splashes of neon tones on the sole and toe cap for good measure:
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
The easiest way to integrate coloured footwear into your own wardrobe is to opt for classic silhouettes in rich, autumnal hues. Shades of deep purple, burnt orange, burgundy, bottle green and navy are rare enough to demand attention, without becoming garish or in your face.
Anchor with neutral coloured legwear to allow them become the focal point of your ensemble:
2. Statement Soles
One of the other key ways designers made a statement this season was by re-interpreting traditional footwear silhouettes, giving them a marked update in the form of a sizeably chunky sole.
As with colour, Gucci came to the fore on this front, showing several black leather lace-ups with fringing detail and thick black soles – considered touches that made for an all-round bolder shoe.
The brand went on to feature a pair of black monk-straps featuring oversized chunky straps, which helped to balance out the thicker than average sole:
Saint Laurent also amped up their footwear offering with both leather and suede lace-up and strapped styles, all equipped with a platform sole. Though a departure from your average formal footwear line-up, these stacked soles worked well with the rockabilly theme that prevailed throughout.
It wasn’t just smart styles that incorporated exaggerated wedge soles – many designers gave sporty options the same treatment. Givenchy, taking its cues from the basketball court, anchored each of its looks with a pair of trainers or hi-tops. Also of the chunky variety, these sports shoes featured solid, flat soles in black and white, perfectly syncing with this season’s monochrome trend.
The chunky, retro effect worked well when paired with the wider trouser leg that defined the collection and complemented the dressed-down, sports luxe feel perfectly.
Prada opted for a similar sports luxe aesthetic with block-coloured, wedge-soled trainers in shades of navy blue, brown and pillar-box red. Just like Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, the brand teamed these stocky sports shoes with wider-legged trousers that seemed to puddle around the footwear, lending the look an urban-inflected nonchalance:
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
Whether you’re a brogue, worker boot or loafer type of man, chunky soles have been applied to nearly every silhouette imaginable this season.
Ideal for winter, when you want to remain sure-footed, style these designs in exactly the same way you would your current footwear collection:
3. Printed Footwear
No longer confined to just clothing, prints of all kinds were applied to a wealth of footwear styles on autumn/winter 2014 runways.
One of the best-executed looks came from Dior Homme, whose relatively subtle black and white polka dot patterned lace-ups worked well in combination with the overall polka dot pattern applied to the tailoring.
An honourable mention also goes to Mark McNairy, who channelled the continuing popularity of the camouflage print with some camo print lace-ups, proving printed footwear doesn’t always need to be about dots and florals:
Ermenegildo Zegna brought a touch of their signature Italian luxury to proceedings in the form of stand-out black alligator shoes and boots, complete with a sturdy heel and sole, which introduced a textural element to the collection’s footwear.
Creative Director Stefano Pilati enhanced the footwear’s impact further through zip fastenings and dramatic proportions – one pair of military-inspired boots rose particularly high, stopping just below the knee:
Elsewhere, Saint Laurent included some distinctive, fur-covered animal print creepers within its collection, which although not to everyone’s taste, certainly made a statement:
Meanwhile, On The High Street
Now that we’ve established which designers are setting the trend for statement footwear in motion, let’s review some of the high street retailers that are offering up more affordable options.
River Island’s mainline collection includes several options this season, from black lace-up boots with a contrast white wedge sole to brown leather chunky-soled boat shoes to black suede desert boots with a contrast blue sole. There are also trainers in leopard print (echoing Saint Laurent) and camo (not unlike the styles spotted at Mark McNairy).
Staying with the high street, Office are carrying Ted Baker brogues in dark purple suede with a contrast blue sole, red velvet tasselled slippers, and Red Wing chukka boots in a rich burgundy complete with a chunky contrast white sole – all guaranteed to make an on-point style statement. At the sportier end of the spectrum, there’s also a pair of bold red tartan hi-tops from Nike and patent pink slip-ons from Vans.
If you can afford to loosen the purse strings a little, premium retailer Mr Porter is offering black and white polka dot slippers in satin jacquard by Jimmy Choo, Common Projects Derby shoes in rich burgundy with a chunky crepe sole, and Lanvin trainers in dark grey with red stripes. On a more textural note, there’s a pair of Thom Browne Derby boots in herringbone tweed and a pair of tapestry rug trainers from Paul Smith; both well-suited to those who prefer some subtle fabric innovation with their footwear.
But it was contemporary menswear destination Oki-ni’s selection that turned the most heads this season. Highlights included Purified x George Cox creepers in white leather with an impressively thick wedge sole, Paul Smith brogues in black leather with a multi-coloured marble-effect rubber sole, Dr Martens shoes in olive green with an all-over paisley print, and a noted favourite – iridescent red leather lace-ups from Maison Martin Margiela.
- Maison Martin Margiela 22 Mens Red Iridescent Leather Oxford Shoes
- Asos Tassel Loafers In Velvet
- Adidas Originals X Pharrell Orange Stan Smith Sneakers
- Clarks Originals Patternity Desert Boots
- Dr Martens Mens Crafted Paisley Silk Percy Shoes
- Converse All Star Hi Plimsolls
- Kg Kurt Geiger Forman Wedge Monk Shoes
- Allsaints Phase Shoe
- Topman Biggin Black Leather Oxford Shoes
- Dr. Martens Originals Adrian Tassel Shoes In Cherry
- Topman Tan Brown Tapestry Loafers
- Rolando Sturlini Brogues
- Ted Baker Jupitta Suede Contrast Sole Brogue
- Stewart Kurt Geiger London
- John Lewis & Co. Dublin Perforated Suede Derby Shoes Navy
- River Island Black Leopard Print Trainers
- Thom Browne Herringbone Tweed Derby Boots
- Ted Baker Thylaar Camo Print Ankle Boots
With both high-end designers and high street brands making a case for footwear that’s not so classic this season, there’s never been a better time to start treading some uncharted territory and experimenting with statement styles.
Is this a trend you’ll be dipping your toes in? Or are these designs just too brash to be taken seriously?
Let us know in the comments section below…