7 Memorable Shoe Moments of the 2010s

Above all else, the 2010s was the decade of rapid-fire news — both from traditional outlets and through social media.

Sometimes, that constant chatter centered around footwear. As a new decade begins, FN takes a look back at the shoe moments that had everyone talking, organized sequentially from most recent to longest ago.

2019: Zion Williamson’s Exploded Sneaker

When then-Duke freshman Zion Williamson’s sneaker exploded on the court during a February 2019 basketball game, all the stars aligned to create one of the year’s most viral moments. Not only was Williamson the No. 1 hoops recruit in the nation, but his shoe broke during a highly buzzed-about matchup against longtime Duke rival University of North Carolina — as former U.S. President Barack Obama was seated courtside.

The baller, who was wearing a pair of Nike PG 2.5 PE sneakers, ended up sidelined with a knee injury for a few weeks following the incident. Ultimately, however, the blown-out shoe didn’t get in the way of Williamson being drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans — and it also didn’t create bad blood between him and the Swoosh, as he later inked a deal with a Nike-owned label, Jordan Brand.

Zion Williamson, Luke Maye. Duke's Zion Williamson (1) falls to the floor with an injury while chasing the ball with North Carolina's Luke Maye (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.CNorth Carolina Duke Basketball, Durham, USA - 20 Feb 2019
Duke’s Zion Williamson (R) falls to the floor with an injury while chasing the ball with North Carolina’s Luke Maye during an NCAA game in Durham, N.C. in February 2019.
CREDIT: Gerry Broome/Shutterstock

2018: Michelle Obama’s Balenciaga Boots

Michelle Obama pulled out all the stops for the final stop of her “Becoming” book tour in Brooklyn, N.Y. in December 2018. The attorney stepped out in glittering gold, thigh-high Balenciaga boots, worth a whopping $3,900, teamed with a yellow dress.

The statement-making shoes would have been conventional fare for a pop star but were internet-breaking on a former first lady, with a razor-sharp stiletto heel, exaggerated pointed toe and sequined upper. While the price tag meant the shoes weren’t accessible to all of Obama’s fans, FN came up with a list of bargain lookalikes, starting at less than $100.

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks as she is interviewed by Sarah Jessica Parker during an appearance for her book, "Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama" at Barclays Center, in New YorkMichelle Obama Book Tour, New York, USA - 19 Dec 2018
Michelle Obama wears golden Balenciaga boots at the Barclays Center in December 2018.
CREDIT: Frank Franklin II/Shutterstock

2018: Cardi B Throws a Shoe at Nicki Minaj

Arguably, the most famous shoe throwing incident of all-time occurred in 2008, when an Iraqi journalist hurled both his shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a press conference. Ten years later, it was Cardi B’s turn to make major headlines for shoe throwing.

The “Bodak Yellow” hit maker was booted out of a September 2018 New York Fashion Week party after throwing a red platform sandals at fellow rapper Nicki Minaj. TMZ caught the altercation on tape; in the video, Cardi can be heard yelling, “B***h come here” several times before being escorted away by security.

2017: Melania Trump’s Hurricane Harvey Heels

Michelle Obama wasn’t the only FLOTUS to make shoe-related news this decade. In August 2017, Melania Trump traveled to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, where communities remained underwater and a national state of emergency was underway.

Netizens were quick to take Trump to task for her choice of footwear: 4-inch Manolo Blahnik BB pumps. While the pointed-toe stilettos are frequently worn by the former model, social media users felt the shoes were insensitive for navigating a flood zone — including the comedian Chelsea Handler, who quipped: “Melania taking off for Houston on AF1…in stilettos.”

melania trump, texas, shoes, manolo blahnik
Melania Trump visits Texas after Hurricane Harvey wearing Manolo Blahnik pumps, August 2017.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

2015: Kanye West Debuts Yeezy Boost 750s at Grammys

When Kanye West returned to the Grammy Awards in 2015 following a six-year hiatus, he was bound to make headlines. News centered largely around his shoes: Yeezy Boost 750s. It was the first time he wore Adidas Yeezy shoes in public after confirming a deal with the German sportswear giant, and fans were buzzing about the look. After consistent sellouts, the highly coveted Yeezy Boost went on later that year to win FN’s coveted Shoe of the Year honor.

While ‘Ye’s 2015 Grammys moment made major news, it wasn’t actually the first time he surprised fans at the Grammys by wearing a brand-new shoe collaboration. At the 2008 Grammys, the hip-hop star debuted his Nike Yeezy 1s. That too was a viral moment, and the kicks West wore later went up on the auction block for around $75,000.

2013: Roger Federer’s Nike Sneakers Banned at Wimbledon

At the Wimbledon tennis tournament in 2013, Roger Federer was infamously forced to retire his sneakers after just one match. The star played the opening round of the tournament in in orange-soled Nike sneakers, and while the upper was white, Wimbledon officials felt the pop of color violated its all-white dress code.

Federer didn’t make a big deal of the shoe ban, but it’s easy to be gracious when you’re one of the greatest tennis players ever — with the most Wimbledon titles (8) and Grand Slam titles (20) of any athlete in history. The Swiss legend no longer is affiliated with Nike; today, he wears Uniqlo attire on the court and  serves as an investor, contributing designer and public face of the sneaker brand On.

Roger Federer Roger Federer V Victor Hanescu Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2013 Day One 24/06/2013Roger Federer Roger Federer V Victor Hanescu Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2013 Day One 24/06/2013 Picture Andy Hooper ......daily Mail.
Roger Federer on the court at Wimbledon in 2013.
CREDIT: Andy Hooper/Shutterstock
Roger Federer Wimbledon 2013 Shoes
Roger Federer wears orange-solded Nike kicks in action at the 2013 Wimbledon tournament.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

2011: Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen Wedding Shoes

While Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s 2018 nuptials generated plenty of buzz, Kate Middleton and Prince William’s 2011 wedding caused an even bigger ruckus. Kate’s look in particular had women all over the world swooning, and it continues to spawn knockoffs and provide bridal inspiration to this day to this day.

The Duchess of Cambridge was married in a stunning Alexander McQueen gown and matching custom heels. Both the dress and the lace-emblazoned, almond-toe pumps were designed by Sarah Burton, creative director of McQueen.

Prince William & Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton walk out of Westminster Abbey after their wedding in 2011.
CREDIT: Splash News
Kate Middleton Style
Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen wedding shoes.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Access exclusive content