How The Fugly Shoe Became A Fashion Essential

A few weeks after the shows, MSCHF’s cartoonish Big Red Boots took over social media feeds, propelling the larger-than-life shoes into the spotlight – a delight to some, deeply aggravating for others. The LA-based brand is known for producing innovative (often controversial) shoes that demand attention, and despite being less than wearable, the bizarre boots sold out within hours. 

“They’re not for me, personally – they remind me of Homer Simpson,” says Vogue’s associate fashion editor Eniola Dare, but Gen Z TikTok content creator Mia Wells is a fan. “They’re fun and youthful – bordering on gimmicky, but fashion should never be too serious,” she says. “We’re seeing a rise in the anime-fication in the latest collections, which might have something to do with the Korean ‘Hallyu’ wave we see from east Asia.” (The trend is the subject of a V&A exhibition that is running until June.)

Big Red Boots in the wild at NYFW. 

Phil Oh

With the ready-to-wear shows now in full swing, it’s clear that eye-catching shoes are once more making a splash on the autumn runways. Area’s lace-up fake fur stilettos and Eckhaus Latta’s chunky moss-green clogs offered arresting new shapes in New York. London brought exaggerated puffer slip-ons at Burberry, fuzzy ballet pumps at Simone Rocha, paw-like heels at  JW Anderson and gladiator-worthy patent leather boots at Mowalola. As for Milan? Diesel presented blue denim low-rise joots, Beate Karlsson’s Avavav unveiled monster feet shoes in even wilder (and even less practical) silhouettes, and Bottega Veneta’s woven leather sock boots had the occupants of the frow straining for a closer look. 

“There are inside shoes and then there are inside shoes, and given London’s high volume of puddles, I’m not sure I’d be game to wear a pair of furry slippers much further than my own doorstep,” muses Liam Hess, living editor at US Vogue. “As much as I love a bonkers shoe, I do question how practical some of these are.” Perhaps certain runway pieces only work in reality for those of us with a chauffeur on standby. 

Bottega Veneta autumn/winter 2023.

Victor VIRGILE/Getty Images

Diesel autumn/winter 2023.

Maison Margiela’s Tabi used to be controversial, an “if you know, you know” sort of shoe that only fashion nerds would wear on an ordinary day. Now, influencers and editors alike wear these formerly divisive shoes with as little fanfare as a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors. Have we entered a new age of normalising unconventional shoes? Can we expect the Big Red Boots to become a familiar sight on the Tube? Only time will tell. For now, we still have the rest of Paris Fashion Week – and all of its mad footwear – to enjoy. 

Related Posts