Why are loafers and boots all of a sudden looking like tanks, and why are their soles suddenly becoming chunky? Why has fashion gone rummaging in the storerooms of steampunk shops in Camden, Kreuzberg or the East Village, stealing the codes of subcultures to bring them out adorned with chic logos, all gentrified, sanitized, and neutralized? No doubt because fashion is inherently a thief and subcultures have the talent to understand the real trends of the moment before anyone else.
Equally of no doubt, you were tempted, ten years ago, to visit one of these shops which flourish in the vicinity of the confidential concert halls. Perhaps you bought a pair of extravagant combat boots in thick leather, mounted on platforms as high as pedestals, adorned with buckles and nails, designed for imaginary urban battles. You were drawn to the incredible look that soles of such height can give, and the sense of security they confer to those who wear them.
They opened the floodgates to your dreams, the prospect of forbidden walks in red-light districts at night, and the possibility of embodying a most charismatic character: that of a gang leader, human Alpha, master of the territory. You were tempted, but if you bought them you might not have dared to wear them, or maybe only occasionally, perhaps as a disguise, to play pretend. They could not be displayed without appearing fake, making you look as an usurper of identity and culture.
The loafers, which Prada in particular has released, for the past few seasons, where they’ve been amplifying the shapes and lining the soles, are perhaps easier to adopt. First, they recall a more popular period in the history of fashion, the 1970s, which themselves synthesized two trends: on the one hand, as an answer to the oil shock of 1973, there was the revival of the arts and crafts movement from the end of the 19th century with their dreams of a return to nature, of living in a community of farmers and artisans, and on the other hand there was the removal of gender barriers.
Men and women had long hair, wore huge glasses and the same flared pants borrowed from the navy, narrow at the hips, loose at the legs with hems brushing the floor. Such long pants called for different soles. The clogs of neo-peasants and shoes of urban animals suddenly became higher. That women wore platforms was nothing new, but that men readily adapted to them, that was the surprise. If you take a look at your family albums, you will not fail to admire the sartorial audacity of your grandfathers in their crazy youth, their freedom of style and spirit, their hairstyles and their accessories that no one would dare wear today.
A farewell to fossil fuels
So here we are, 21st century humanity, stricken by two years of a pandemic whose end we do not yet see, in the presence of a fascinating range of shoes that meet many expectations. We spoke above of pedestals. This pandemic that has locked us in and deprived of visibility has provoked, in our closets, a call for magnitude, for volumes greater than life. These floods of fabrics are the only response to raised soles, for practical as well as aesthetic reasons. We also talked about punk and steam-punk, and we are more than ever faced with the urgency of finding solutions to global warming by reducing the use of fossil fuels.
However, steam-punk celebrates the steam engine, the revival of the industrial age with its coal mines and the drilling of the first oil wells. Incorrigible, nostalgic, fashion could not miss this latest tribute to a technology that has so deeply impacted our culture and whose demise is formally announced. Finally, platforms for all offer a glorious pedestal for the gender fluidity that was so natural to the 1970s, and to which our equity-conscious age has decided to open the door wide.