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The Latest in Footwear Trends for Fall 2019

Diversity ruled at FN Platform this February. Footwear brands pulled design influences from seemingly everywhere, ranging from cowboy culture to ’90s grunge.

Here’s a look the prevailing trends emerging from the trade show for Fall ’19.

Mixed animal prints

“This is the boldest trend of the fall season,” said Rafaela Furlanetto, designer for Italian women’s brand Vicenza.

Animal prints and skins never seem to fall out of favor, but this autumn, they’ll be kicked into high gear. Tiger and zebra stripes are especially prevalent in women’s dress and casuals, along with snake, croco, leopard and cheetah. Many styles incorporate more than one print, creating an exotic patchwork. Furlanetto dubbed the mixed-print movement “Animalier,” and insisted that it’s the one trend that “can’t be missed.”

Unusual heel shapes

“A chair leg or a crumpled piece of paper can be a source of inspiration,” said Lenis Lozano of United Nude’s inventive array of heel shapes. The Dutch brand’s silhouettes are inspired by architecture and everyday objects, she added.

This fall, many brands are playing with unusual heels, from inverted cones to spheres, multi-faceted blocks and curved “banana heels.”

“The heel is the refresher” of the fall season, Lozano said. “It gives a flare to the entire aesthetic of the shoe. You can have a basic upper and the heel can be the showstopper,” she added.

“Wet” patent

Bringing to mind ripples on water or an oil slick on a wet city street, the upcoming fall season’s crinkled, iridescent patents have hit the women’s boot scene in a big way.

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“‘Wet patent’ is reminiscent of ‘90s style and grunge, as opposed to regular patent that’s a little more tailored,” said Shena Louissaint, a representative for Andre Assous.

Lending depth and texture to a classic material, “wet patent” is edgier than the original. It also has “trans-seasonal appeal,” Louissaint said. Chelsea boots, lug-soled lace-ups booties, oxfords and block heels are all enveloped in shine.

Western styling

The cowboy boot has been updated for city living. Ankle booties, stilettos and mules pull influences from the iconic equestrian style. Elaborate swirling embroidery is abstracted and modernized, cutouts are common, and Texas stars are a recurring motif.

Western influences have been subtly incorporated into contemporary boot silhouettes for some time, but this fall they will permeate nearly every category of women’s footwear.

Platform hikers

“We’re putting an urban spin on cold weather fashion,” said Steve Sedlbauer, president of Cougar. Undoubtedly one of the most pervasive trends of the fall season, iterations of the platform hiker boot vary in form and functionality.

Cougar’s styles feature treaded outsoles, insulated leather uppers and fur and shearling linings to protect against the cold. The platform element is more aesthetic, Sedlbauer admits. Influenced by the streetwear trend, exaggerated outsoles are giving outdoor brands a chance to appeal to city-dwellers.

Fashion brands are also getting in on the trend, albeit with a different capacity to handle the elements. Swiss brand Inuikii pulls its name from the Inuit words for “beautiful” and “cold.” Its line of sneaker-boot hybrids are designed for fashion and warmth, in that order.