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9 Fashion and Footwear Trends to Look Forward to in 2021

2020 is in the rearview, and while winter weather and stay-at-home measures currently remain, the fashion industry is looking forward to the trends and aesthetics that will shape 2021, especially for the spring ’21 season.

Here, nine fashion and footwear trends to look forward to in the new year.

1. Comfy pants — that aren’t sweats

Consider spring’s new separates to be training wheels for returning to the pre-pandemic notion of wearing real clothes. They may not be sweatpants, but wide-leg cuts and relaxed silhouettes with slightly tapered waists offer comfort for a new decade and new look.

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Relaxed denim at Chanel spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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Relaxed trousers on the runway at Louis Vuitton spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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Relaxed chinos at Chloé spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

staud pants, spring 2021 trends, wide leg pants, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Lola Dre

To buy: Staud Tropics pant, $122 (was $225)

gap chinos, wide leg pants, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of The Gap

To buy: Gap high-rise barrel khaki pants, $63 (was $70)

wide leg pants, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, wide leg pants
CREDIT: Courtesy of Shopbop

To buy: Diarrablu Leer pants, $125

 

2. Thongs

In fashion, “thong” can mean a few things, and all versions will be having their moments in 2021. There will be cheeky swimwear (and yes, we have seen a whale-tail or two), but on foot the elevated version of a flip-flop (or thong) will also continue to spark interest, whether it’s a dressed-up thong kitten heel or a sporty take on the between-the-toes style. One thing is for sure, trend seekers will have the option of baring a bit more this year — in more ways than one.

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Thong sandals on the runway at Acne Studios spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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Jimmy Choo’s heeled thong sandal for spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jimmy Choo

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Thong sandals at Kenzo spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

by far sandals, by far, by far thong sandals, thong, thong sandals, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Netaporter

To buy: By Far Mindy sandals, $123 (was $410)

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CREDIT: Courtesy of Ssense

To buy: The Row Black Swan sandals, $351 (was $650)

steve madden, thong, thong sandals, steve madden thong sandals, spring 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Steve Madden

To buy: Steve Madden Melrose sandal, $86

3. More of the outdoor

The outdoor-focused, fashion hiker trend has been percolating for a few years now, especially in menswear. Now that nature seems to be the only safe source of leisure in these physically-distant times, the co-mingling of outdoor and fashion markets will continue to resonate. Take Gucci’s new collaboration with The North Face, or Danish line Ganni, one of fashion’s buzziest high-contemporary brands, whose hiking-inspired boot continues to be one of its best selling items. For spring ’21, Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci experimented with outdoor silhouettes (shown in an actual forest). Expect to see these technical pieces mixing in with more fashion-focused items, like the hiking-boot-with-a-dress look.

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An outdoor-friendly look at Burberry’s spring ’21 show, which was held outdoors in September.
CREDIT: WWD

burberry, burberry spring 2021, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
Outdoor friendly, rubber-soled footwear at Burberry spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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A campaign image from Gucci’s new collaboration with The North Face. The line will debut in the U.S. later this month.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Gucci

ganni boots, ganni hiking boot, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of MyTheresa

To buy: Ganni Edna suede boots, $276 (was $395)

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CREDIT: Courtesy of MyTheresa

To buy: See By Chloé Eileen shearling-trimmed boots, $297 (was $425)

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CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: Marc Fisher LTD Izzie shearling bootie, $250

4. Miles of mules

Mules, the big footwear trend of 2017 and 2018, were somewhat on their way out in 2020, prior to the pandemic. But after a year filled with multitudes of difficulty, it makes sense that footwear’s easiest silhouette would be sticking around. For 2021, designers gave the mule simple, graphic updates, from stripes at Jimmy Choo to inverted triangular heel shapes at The Attico. For footwear’s biggest It brand, Bottega Veneta, the mule came in a chunky, nearly-wedge heel with an almond toe — a distinctive turn from its cartoonish square toes of 2019 and 2020.

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A powder-blue wedge-mule at Bottega Veneta spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of WWD

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Triangular-shaped high-heeled mules from The Attico for pre-spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of The Attico

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Simple white mules in Junya Watanabe’s spring ’21 collection.
CREDIT: Courtesy of WWD

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CREDIT: Courtesy of Miista

To buy: Miista Frostine mule, $350

jeffrey campbell shoes, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: Jeffrey Campbell Mr. Big sandal, $135

jacquemus, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, jacquemus shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ssense

To buy: Jacquemus “Les Mules Carino” heels, $336 (was $570)

5. Return of the gladiator

The ancient footwear trend ruled much of the aughts, and it was only a matter of time until it turned back up on the runways. At Chloé, it came in a cutout bootie hybrid (a style that has never really disappeared from the brand), with an easy block heel. Elsewhere, at Alberta Ferretti and Etro, flat beachy styles and espadrilles suggested more carefree days of summer 2021, while both Gianvito Rossi and Giuseppe Zanotti did glammed up versions. But perhaps the biggest hint of the gladiator’s return comes from Valentino, which brought back its aughts hit Rockstud in a flat and kitten heel. Get ready to strap up.

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Gladiator sandals at Chloé spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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Gianvito Rossi spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Gianvito Rossi

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Valentino spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Valentino

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CREDIT: Courtesy of The Webster

To buy: Amina Muaddi X Awge LSD gladiator sandal, $1,490.

valentino rockstud, gladiator, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Ssense

To buy: Valentino Garavani Rockstud cage heel, $564 (was $1,045)

dr martens, dr martens gladiator sandal, gladiator sandal, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Dr. Martens

To buy: Dr. Martens Nartilla gladiator sandal, $100

6. Black and white

Spring ’21 seems to have less of a cohesive color palette — no singular bold hue or two to join collections for buyers and retailers. But the absence of color, in black-and-white, did pull through in a variety of ways. At Gabriela Hearst, it was both a simplicity and literal duality, while French brand Koché used it mixed in with lace and floral prints, and at Alice + Olivia, it was simply a graphic statement.

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A black-and-white leather column dress at Gabriela Hearst spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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A graphic black-and-white gown at Alice + Olivia spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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Black-and-white stripes at Koché spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

marni, marni shoes, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, marni shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of 24S

To buy: Marni shearling pumps, $570 (was $950)

staud, staud clothing, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, staud, fashion
CREDIT: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

To buy: Staud Shoko colorblock sweater dress, $165

cardigans, cardigan trend, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Shopbop

To buy: Sister Jane Supper Club tweed cardigan, $137

7. Bralettes

Sporty, flirty or retro, the skin-baring top was all over the spring ’21 runways, perhaps another nod to designers’ notions of vacation escapism.

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A beachy coordinating look from Etro spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

jason wu, spring 2021, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
A bralette with colorful separates and an Arizona Love sandal collaboration on the runway at Jason Wu spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

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An embellished bralette, satin trousers and flats on the runway at No. 21 spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

bandier, bralette, cashmere bra, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Bandier

To buy: Bandier X Brodie cashmere bralette, $128

laneus, cashmere bra, bralette, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Farfetch

To buy: Laneus cashmere bralette, $123 (was $163)

kiki de montparnasse, saks fifth avenue, spring 2021 trends, bralette, 2021 trends, bra top
CREDIT: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

To buy: Kiki de Montparnasse cap-sleeved pleated bralette, $168 (was $450)

8. Floral feet

We know that florals for spring aren’t groundbreaking, but a crop of blooming footwear is certainly an update to the botanical printed dress the comes around each season.

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Floral shoes from Stella Jean spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Stella Jean

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Roger Viver spring ’21.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Roger vivier

cecilia new york, floral sandals, flower sandals, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: Cecilia New York Hibiscus sandal, $225

giuseppe zanotti, giuseppe zanotti sandals, floral sandals, flower sandals, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Farfetch

To buy: Giuseppe Zanotti Lilium flower appliqué sandals, $675 (was $1,350)

dolce & gabbana, dolce gabbana, floral sandals, floral applique sandals, flower sandals, platform sandals, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Farfetch

To buy: Dolce & Gabbana floral appliqué sandals, $1,527 (was $2,545)

9. Luxe clogs

There’s a new “It” shoe in town for spring ’21 and it won’t be cheap:  Meet the Hermès clog, its traditional wooden sole paired with shiny, sumptuous leather and fastened with even equally luxe nail heads. It may not be as comfortable as an “ugly” sandal or sneaker, but we’re betting that the French luxury house will make the footwear as spa-like as the shoes were originally intended.

hermes, hermes clog, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, hermes, hermes shoes, clogs, fashion
Clogs backstage at the Hermès spring ’21 runway show at Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Delphine Archad/WWD

hermes, hermes clogs, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, fashion, clogs, hermes shoes
Hermès spring ’21.
CREDIT: WWD

Until the Hermès clogs debut in early spring, here are three other clogs to wear now:

no. 6, clogs, no 6 clogs, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends, clog trend
CREDIT: Courtesy of No. 6

To buy: No. 6 Old School Clog, $350

dansko, dansko clogs, clogs, clog trend, spring 2021 trend, 2021 trend
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos

To buy: Dansko Professional clog in shearling, $120

fashion, shoes, fendi, fendi clogs, fendi shoes, spring 2021 trends, 2021 trends
CREDIT: Courtesy of Farfetch

To buy: Fendi Square Eye clog, $1,066 (was $1,122)

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through the links included on our site, FN may earn a commission.

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