For anyone groaning about the demise of the high heel and the proliferation of “ugly” sandals this summer, next summer may not offer reprieve. Or it may be a welcome sign, depending on your view of the trend that has undoubtedly changed the footwear market in 2020.
It seems that not even Jason Wu, one of New York’s most esteemed designers and one known for his elegant, traditional notions of eveningwear, is above the ugly sandal, which has dominated summer’s new work-from-home wardrobe of casual, nonchalant practicality and comfort. At his spring ’21 runway show kicking off New York Fashion Week Sunday night, the designer showed that elegance can look comfortable — at least when it’s on a beach, in a pair of sandals.
Wu looked to what he called his “home away from home” of Tulum to reimagine the Jason Wu woman, who in the past was someone quite often in feathers and silk — and always in a heel. This time around, she was in casual cotton separates and dresses, with Arizona Love’s Trekky sandal on foot.
“The theme of the collection is escapism — because fashion should inspire and make us feely happy,” wrote Wu in his show notes. “It has been really fun exploring the more casual side of the Jason Wu woman.”
Indeed, both the collection and the collaboration with the Paris-based sandal brand seem worlds away from Wu’s past seasons footwear partnerships, which have included a multi-season, high-heel-focused run with Manolo Blahnik. A look back even just to Wu’s last collection, for the fall ’20 season, shows a dramatic change in ideals and dress codes for the designer.
For this season’s beachy looks, Wu took Arizona Love’s simple concept (and not-so-subtle homage to Teva’s Original Universal sandal) to match and contrast strips of fabric with the breathable cotton dresses and relaxed separates, which models wore down the palm-tree-laden, deck-inspired runway (sponsored by Lowe’s and located on the rooftop of Spring Studios with a minimal in-person attendance okayed by Governor Cuomo last month). Silhouettes like wide leg culottes with eyelet detailing, swishy A-line skirts and simple tunics and long-sleeve dresses offered suggestions on how to wear the ugly sandal next summer.
With NYFW just kicking off, we’re eager to see if more ugly sandals make their way down the virtual runways.