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Real Boots — With a Heel — Are Back For Fall 2021

New York Fashion Week is in the middle of its strange, untethered, all-digital experiment. And so far, there’s not a slipper in sight.

All of the designers showing this week, it seems, are looking less to the needs of right now and more to the future. After all, that’s what fashion shows are about, predictions on what will be worn and seen six months from now. Six months happens to be around the time when the CDC predicts that herd immunity will take place and life may return to normal.

For footwear, that means real shoes. And not just sneakers, or that new hybrid indoor-outdoor shoe that’s still a slipper at the end of the day. It’s not even an ugly sandal, which has dominated fashionable feet for nearly two year now.

No, fall ’21 will be all about a boot. And it will be a statement boot, with a heel.

The best so far has come from Ulla Johnson, whose footwear offering is small but always as full of as much embellishment and creativity as is found in her clothing. For fall ’21, the designer did a series of knee boots with a stacked wooden heel, accented with thick, black contrast stitching and lace-up leather ties with swishy tassels on the ends.

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Ulla Johnson’s embellished stacked heel leather knee boots for fall ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ulla Johnson

At Zero + Maria Cornejo, the doyenne designer showed a curated selection of footwear that featured both heels and statement boots, both in a knee-high silhouette and an ankle boot, the last of which feels like the perfect shoe for easing back into a social life.

zero + Maria cornejo, nyfw, fall 2021, boots
Zero + Maria Cornejo’s metallic knee boots for fall ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zero + Maria Cornejo

At Veronica Beard, classic knee boots went refined with a pointed — not a square — toe and croc-embossed prints. A clog boot with a sueded upper and shearling lining also looked cozy, riffing off of the clog trend that is soon to engulf the spring season, once everyone can get out of their winter boots.

veronica beard, nyfw, fall 2021, new york fashion week
Clog boots from Veronica Beard for fall ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Veronica Beard

Since reorganizing his brand towards a high-contemporary market, Jason Wu has sought out buzzy collabs, including this season’s boot bonanza with U.K.-based, made-in-Italy brand Dear Frances. From yellow snake print knee-highs to bubblegum-pink leather wedge ankle boots, the footwear was just as bright as the clothing, if not more so.

jason wu, dear frances, nyfw, new york fashion week, fall 2021
Glossy watermelon-pink patent leather knee boots from Dear Frances for Jason Wu fall ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jason Wu

Ever the collaborator, Anna Sui went back to one of her favorite shoe designers, John Fleuvog, for a series of super-groovy printed boots with curvy, manageable heels — perfect to ease back in to real shoes and out of those slippers.

Shop heeled statement boots now

sam edelman, sam edelman boots, fall 2021 trends, nyfw, nyfw trends, shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Shopbop

To buy: Sam Edelman Samira boot, $80 (was $200)

chinese laundry, nyfw, new york fashion week, fall 2021 trends, boot trends, boots, shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos

To buy: Chinese Laundry Krafty boot, $130

schutz, schutz boots, nyfw, new york fashion week, fall 2021 trends, fall 2021 shoe trends, boot trends, boots, shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: Schutz Maryana boot, $238.

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