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Party Heels Will Rule Spring ’22 — Here Are the Hot Brands Everyone Will Be Wearing, According to Top Retailers

With the spring ’22 Milan and Paris collections now in the books, one thing is clear: Party shoes will rule the season.

With sexy, skin-baring clothing dominating the runways, the shoes were a definite complement — with sky-high stilettos, architectural and surrealist heel treatments and platforms standing out as the shoes of the season.

While the heel comeback has been at the center of the conversation for months now, it’s taken some time for consumers to get on board after almost two years of wearing at-home, comfortable looks.

But now with parties, weddings and red-carpet events back in full force, recent data shows there is now a definitive shift in buying. Just this week, for example, Lyst data showed that during the past month, searches for boots including the keywords “glitter” and “sparkly” increased 83%. Hailey Bieber’s instagram post featuring Saint Laurent’s newest rhinestone boots fueled a 65% in online searches for similar pieces online.

Feeling bullish, retailers are betting big on heels for spring. Here, three top buyers talk about the standout brands on and off the runway in Milan, and the spring ’22 show experiences that they won’t forget.

The Versace runway show was a standout for many buyers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Versace

Roopal Patel, SVP, Fashion Director, Saks

Best Heels:

“Heels are back in a big way. We saw this consistently between shows in Milan and Paris with interesting interpretations at both. This includes everything from strappy, sculptural wedges at Fendi, sky high platform heels at Saint Laurent, festive party heels at Aquazzura, sexy strappy sandals at Versace, and sculptural platform wedges at Isabel Marant. Loewe also showed up in the heel department with tongue-in-cheek styles that came in the form of nail polish, candles, roses, and cracked eggs which added a little humor to the typical heel.”  

The Trend Story

“Customers are absolutely ready to embrace heels and party shoes again, and ready-to-wear is warranting this with skin and barely-there clothing being the new trend of the season. We are seeing a ton of cut-outs and sexier silhouettes coming down the runway that lend themselves to heels and party shoes. Plus, we’re seeing a strong return to glamour and evening wear which definitely embraces the festive, party heel vibe.”

Names on the Rise:

“Andrea Wazen is a rising star that is definitely on our radar.”

Show Standouts:

“Prada and Balenciaga were two major standouts that pushed the boundaries with technology and innovation to connect with the fashion community on a global scale. Prada, with simultaneous shows in Milan and Shanghai, and Balenciaga with their red carpet pre-show in advance of the premiere of The Balenciaga Simpsons episode. Saint Laurent was another standout show that kicked off Paris Fashion Week in a big way. The juxtaposition of the sexy, bold collection against the Eiffel Tower was dramatic and truly felt like a love letter to Paris.”

Loewe’s runway footwear — adorned with egg, soap, roe and nail-varnish-shaped heels — was a winner.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Loewe

Hollie Harding, Buying Manager of Non-Apparel, Browns

Best Heels:

“Heels are definitely back with a vengeance this season, and the higher the better. Saint Laurent bought back the iconic Tribute sandal, but with a towering platform refresh. The black Versace platforms that Dua Lipa sported on the runway were also a standout. Browns’ favorite, Amina Muaddi was also spotted around fashion week, sporting a new platform from her upcoming SS22 collection, which we’re eagerly waiting for. Loewe’s already viral footwear offering — adorned with egg, soap, rose and nail varnish-shaped heels — were a real lighthearted and joyful fashion week moment.”

The Trend Story

“We have definitely noted a shift in buying habits this season, with customers fully embracing a higher heel and modern platform styles, especially in loud out-there colors — a tonic after months of comfort dressing. Spring ’22 has left us excited to be more expressive and daring in our personal style.”

Names on the Rise:

“Paris Texas is always a name to look out for. Renowned for their statement boots, they have expanded their collection and will be bringing exaggerated platforms and pump styles into the mix next season. Haus of Honey is another new name we’re loving, particularly their platform styles in rainbow brights. The lightweight composition means they are also comfortable, which is always a bonus.”

Show Standouts:

“Micro skirts were everywhere, and Prada’s trail style was a fun update, matched with colorful slingbacks — a real shoe highlight across the cities. Loewe delivered on every level and the novelty element was a fun, playful touch. Balenciaga, without a doubt, was a stand-out moment. It was such a genius move and brought a buzz back to the return of IRL fashion weeks.

Retailers lauded Prada’s simultaneous Milan and Shangahi shows as an important way to recognize the Asian market, which couldn’t travel to Milan because of pandemic restrictions.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Prada

Helen David, Chief Merchant of Luxury, Kurt Geiger

Best Heels:

“We have seen a major shift into platforms, catapulted by the Versace platform Mary Janes that everyone was wearing during fashion week. We have seen platforms coming through from pretty much every brand — those you would typically expect like Versace, Miu Miu and Aquazzura — to brands you would least expect like Amina Muaddi and Lanvin. It’s safe to say we have bought them all!”

The Trend Story

“We have already seeing a considerable shift into heels over the last few months, which currently now account for a quarter of our sales; a great shift from just 10% of sales during the pandemic and approximately 20% pre pandemic. Due to this phenomenal growth, this is a category we have heavily backed for the Christmas/Party season in our pre-collection buys, with a focus on color, PVC and embellishment appealing to emotional purchases. Women are definitely ready to go out and have fun, and want cool, colorful, standout shoes to do it in.”

Names on the Rise:

“Actually some of the designers that impressed us the most this season you wouldn’t typically think of as “emerging”. If you take Lanvin, for example, while they have a long legacy as a fashion house, in the shoe world, they are relatively new players. We just launched their new Curb sneaker, and we sold out in 2 weeks. This is a brand we are definitely excited about and are really championing over the coming season. What was most interesting about their show collection was that they haven’t just made a hit sneaker. I am convinced that the platform they debuted on the runway will be a hit too.”

Show Standouts:

“Versace was our first show of the season, and it ticked every box you could want from a Versace show or from any show for that matter. I loved every second! The stream of celebrity cameos, and a collection filled with sexed-up sassiness kept you wanting more. It was a high energy show that made you remember what it felt like when you went to your first-ever fashion show. We’ve remembered our love for Versace and can’t wait to see it continue on the major comeback it’s making. At Balenciaga, Demna kept us guessing until the very end. The runway / red carpet hybrid subverted the typical runway format and the Simpsons collaboration was pure genius – the only thing missing was the popcorn! Prada’s simultaneous shows in Milan and Shanghai were a clever homage to the Asian market, which was unable to travel [to Milan]. The brand continues to develop back into the cult brand it was in the ‘90s — with every category from the shoes to the bags to the RTW being at the top of everyone’s “must have” list. It was easily the brand we saw people wearing the most in every city over the last few weeks. Miu Miu ended Paris on a happy, fun vibe — the collaboration with New Balance is a marketing masterstroke and we cannot wait to get our hands on it!”

Miu Miu and New Balance unveiled a surprised collab at PFW.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Miu Miu
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