To find out which shoe trends are on the horizon, we turned to Tampa's International Academy of Design and Technology. Students in Martin Mundo's trend-forecasting class predicted what's on the horizon, based on runway shows, trend reports and conversations with shoe store managers. — Dalia Colón firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Platforms. Everyone from IADT students to Steve Madden (see Page 52) has been hyping platforms. These shoes started in the 1400s, when folks just wanted to protect their feet from dirt and mud, said student Tysheema Parrish. Today sky-high heels are out, and platforms are back in. "You get the height, but they're more comfortable than pumps," said student Debra Stone. Modern platforms are extra-comfy, with soles made from flexible materials like cork and rattan. Metallic shades are especially popular.
2. Feminine details. Flowers, bows and lace have recently been spotted on runway shows by Isaac Mizrahi and Diane von Furstenberg. Look for flower-print pumps and bow closures. Student Jackie Montreuil showed off a pair of bow-embellished slippers she bought at Target — a sure sign the trend is catching on. The class agreed that a trend isn't necessarily over when it arrives at big-box stores; there's still time to jump on board.
3. T-straps. Trends don't just come out of nowhere; they evolve. T-strap sandals are an extension of last summer's gladiator craze. This year, they've been dressed up with a heel or platform, said student Kady Pontolilo.
4. Peep toes. Heels, flats, platforms — open-toed shoes are hot no matter how you wear them. For the fall, peep-toe booties will be in. And yes, it's fine to wear them with tights.
5. Heel decorations. Look for heels and wedges covered in netting, jewels, hardware and decorative cut-outs.
6. Old-school sneakers. "Guys' shoes are getting a little more flamboyant, a little more vibrant," said student Ngon Vu. As retro TV shows and comic books make a comeback, so will vintage kicks. Nike's line of skateboarding sneakers, called SBs, will be snatched up online. Try to get your hands on the Ferris Bueller, Bill Cosby and Pac-Man models.
7. Back to nature. Recession plus green movement equals wallet-friendly, earth-friendly footwear, said student Maggie Aldridge. In fact, at Paris Fashion Week in October, designer Karl Lagerfeld sent his models down the runway on a catwalk covered in hay. Look for shoes made from wood, cork and straw.
8. Hardware. Student Maegan Del Valle called it "militia chic": Gromets, studs and other details you'd normally find on handbags are showing up on footwear. The designs might be a response to the fragile economy. "The metals symbolize strength and stability and assertiveness," Del Valle said. Expect the military trend to grow more feminine in the future, with footwear like a military boot with an open toe and a heel.
9. Natural colors. Again, credit the economy. Beiges and browns match almost any outfit, so they're a great investment for budget-conscious consumers. Bonus: flesh tones make you look taller.
10. Fantasy shoes. "It's very contradictory what's happening in our society because there are two extremes," said Mundo. Although budget-friendly neutrals will be all the rage, women will also invest in one over-the-top pair of shoes. Think jewel tones, metallic ruffles and Alexander McQueen-style embellishments, but with a more functional heel. The reason? Consumers want an escape from — you guessed it — the economy. It's why they flocked to see Avatar, and it's why they'll splurge on a pair of dreamy footwear.