Despite what the opening scene of “The Devil Wears Prada” and its many stiletto-clad aspiring editors may have you believe, fashion loves an ugly shoe. Well, so long as its the right kind of ugly, that is. Clunky, clinical, and vaguely orthopedic-looking footwear has been elevated in recent seasons from fashion taboo to street-style staple—just look at the resurgence of Birkenstocks, Teva’s collaborations with Opening Ceremony and Nasty Gal, and, most recently, the gem-embellished Crocs Christopher Kane sent down the runway at his tenth anniversary show last month at London Fashion Week.
For Spring 2017, designers have doubled down on their affection for all forms of maligned shoes: on top of the Crocs, there were flip-flops (Dolce and Gabbana, Alexander Wang, Dries van Noten), water shoes (MSGM, Markus Lupfer), Teva-esque velcro sandals (Emporio Armani, Maison Margiela, Anna Sui), and a second coming of the Chinese mesh slipper (Noon By Noor).
Then there were those that presented new silhouettes sure to confuse most of the straight male population, such as Paco Rabanne, whose tube-sock-sandal hybrids my coworker helpfully described as “condoms for your feet,” and Gucci, whose four-inch flatforms were topped with wallpaper-floral ankle-boot uppers.
And while sure, ugly-chic may not be for everyone, these will no doubt find plenty of fans among the more adventurous fashion crowd. Below, get a taste of what we’re all in store for next season with 21 of the most divisive pairs of shoes from the Spring ’17 runways.