While still booming in men’s wear, the athletic trainer — which the fashion elite, as of late, have paired with everything from Adidas track pants to Chanel Couture — may be on the downturn in women’s.
Athleticism appears to be declining in favor industrywide. “I would say there is definitely a general shift, particularly in the shoe world, away from the more casual mood that has dominated in recent seasons. The ubiquity of the sneaker is starting to wane,” offered Net-A-Porter’s retail fashion director Lisa Aiken.
So how will style-hawkers now choose to carelessly roam around town? It would appear that in light of sneaker fatigue, the ballet flat is returning as the flat du jour.
The feminine style last rose to acclaim in the mid-Aughts, as a girlish counter to the Paris Hilton-era’s flashy inclinations for skin brandishing and spray tans. In the nascent days of high-street fashion, the style quickly proliferated through all price points – starting at Chanel’s iconic flat and permeating footwear’s ranks all the way to Payless pleather.
The flat’s latest incarnation is a bit edgier and less straightforward – embellished with grommets, ankle ribbons and spikes at Miu Miu, Celine and Valentino. Ballet flats are also offered by The Row, Aquazurra, and United Arrows’ in-house line, among others. Barneys New York’s web site has a specific section dedicated to the style.
Saks Fifth Avenue has teamed with Manolo Blahnik on an exclusive run of ballet flats by the designer, and enlisted American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Isabella Boylston to appear in promotional videos for the collection. The $550 ‘Tobaly’ style comes in a candied array of colors, and are “animated, fun and whimsical,” said Saks senior vice president and fashion director Roopal Patel.
The ballet flat mood is available in lower price points as well, with Randy Ochart, the owner of French Sole — famous for its $140 flats — reporting a 41 percent increase in sales year-over-year.