The clear-shoe trend is in full force — but doctors say sporting the style could lead to health problems like blisters and smelly feet.
However, these problems that can stem from the style can be prevented during the construction process, according to women’s shoe designer Ritch Erani. Beyoncé, Alessandra Ambrosio and Gabrielle Union are among his famous fans.
Erani, who’s known for creating luxe sandals, boots and pumps incorporating PVC — says it’s all about paying attention to the details.
The quality of PVC used on a shoe makes a big difference in comfort for the wearer, Erani explained. Lower-quality, stiffer PVC on an ankle strap might cut the foot, but designers can solve that problem with a thinner, more expensive grade.
“If you use a stiffer or heavier grade of PVC, it’s going to cut you. What happens is, [brands] just buy the cheapest grade of PVC they can get in rolls and rolls and rolls, and just use them for whatever they want,” Erani said. “It doesn’t work that way. We have to get a different grade of PVC according to wherever we’re going to use it.”
For clear pumps, a leather lining is essential to prevent burning and cuts, according to the designer.
While breathability is unlikely to be an issue with a see-through sandal, fogged-up pumps or booties are an unfortunate possibility. Erani said he prevents this by putting tiny holes in his shoes.
“When you do put the shoes on, it’ll steam up, but after a few minutes, it’ll disappear,” he explained.
Multiple trial fittings — wherein different people test out the prototypes of a shoe and provide feedback — are key to working out the kinks before a product hits the shelves.
“We start drawing on the shoe [and say], ‘This has to come down a little. We need a thinner PVC’ … And we go again,” he said. “We joke that shoes should cost a million dollars for all the thought and every hand that touches them and all the trial fitting.”
While fast-fashion brands have jumped all over the clear-shoe trend, Erani explained that a quality pair of PVC shoes is going to require shelling out a few hundred dollars.
“Once you’re getting something that’s a little bit cheaper, they could look beautiful, and if you’re not going to wear them a lot, it’s fine. And if you don’t have foot problems, it’s great,” he said. “But if you really want something quality, longevity, something that really looks like crystal — these can look like crystal when it’s on the foot — you have to spend around maybe $400, $350.”
Three Easy Tips to Remember:
• Ask a sales associate to provide details on the quality of the leather lining so you can prevent cuts.
• Invest: Splurge on a pair that’s around $350 to $400, as the construction might be better than a bargain pair and will have longer shelf life.
• Just breathe: Look for shoes with perforations around the counter so your toebed doesn’t look foggy and build up moisture.