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White Patent Leather, Glitter-Bombed Sneakers Lead Platform 2020 Trends

Fortune may favor the bold this fall season.

Revamped classics and eye-catching new materials lit up the floor at the FN Platform footwear trade show in Las Vegas this week.

Vendors from across the globe descended on the Mandalay Bay convention center Tuesday to showcase their latest stylistic innovations for the fall 2020 season.

While multiple themes emerged at the show, a trend toward minimalism was not among them. As brands break into a new decade, it appears they are pulling out all the bells, whistles, embellishments and glitter to capture consumers’ attentions.

Luxe animal skins, brightly dyed furs, shiny patents and a multitude of new design elements prevailed across brands and categories.

Updated combat boots and hikers

“It’s something she’ll want to wear every day,” Tommy Fava, vice president of Cecelia NYC, said of the brand’s new-and-improved combat boot.

The silhouette has become a signature for his brand and many others this fall season, updated with feminine prints and patterns, fur, shiny hardwear and studs. While the heritage style has held a place in shoppers’ hearts and closets for decades, this year’s iterations of the combat boot blend the traditionally tough and rugged silhouette with tender and whimsical elements.

“There are shoes that we do that are super feminine, but here, we want to take something that’s known as a masculine silhouette and give it a feminine edge,” Fava said.

For Cecelia NYC, that means adding neon plumes of fur to the shoe’s vamp, along with enough shiny silver hardwear to entice any passing magpie.

“She’s finding a way to style it dressed up or down,” he added. “We want her to feel sexy, confident and comfortable.”

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Futuristic animal prints

Animal skins and prints are as ever-present as basic neutrals, but this year, they’re getting a 21st-century upgrade.

Iridescent finishes and pops of color distorted the usual reptilian skins and mammalian markings that have proven essential to any modern footwear collection.

“They’re a bit of nondescript—they’re not a solid pattern or color,” Lauren Marinis said of the iridescent, snake-embossed leathers in her eponymous fall line.

Marinis believes the consumer’s appetite for animal skins and prints only stands to grow, but that the usual muted, found-in-nature palettes are giving way to something bolder.

With updated coloring, she said, consumers will find a new reason to be excited about familiar motifs that have long been a part of their wardrobes.

She also insists that the styles are easy to pair. “You can wear them with anything—with a bold color or with classic black.”

Crafty cupsoles

The classic white cupsole sneaker has received a maximalist makeover for the fall season.

While the ubiquitous, easy-wearing silhouette is staying put, it’s being shellacked with new details and materials that upend its basic image.

“The sneakers are more detailed with combined materials, pleating, quilting and stitching,” said Jay Litvack, president of J Slides Footwear, which specializes in sneaker and slide styles.

“Low-top sneakers trimmed in fur are a new trend for the brand,” he said.

Across the showroom floor, cupsoles and vulcanized lace-ups were embroidered, distressed, embellished, and seemingly dunked in vats of glitter.

Star patterns and graphics emerged as the most popular motif of the fall season, while leathers and suedes in khaki, tan, taupe and grey provided a neutral base for the overstated ornamentation.

Crocodile takeover

In perhaps a gesture of respect for the recently fire-ravaged Australian Outback, brands have embraced crocodile skin (or embossed leather bearing the animal’s iconic texturing) as the must-have material this fall.

Rich browns and multi-faceted blacks were the most commonly utilized variations of the “croco” concept, though some brands updated their palettes with fall favorites like merlot and even patent finishes.

With a bigger, bolder presence than fine textures snake or lizard, crocodile skin lent itself to some of the show’s cold weather offerings, like boots, ankle booties and loafers.

White patent

The late ‘60s are back with a vengeance, calling to mind Sharon Tate’s iconic Valley of the Dolls persona.

Booths across the showroom floor glinted with shiny silhouettes ranging from go-go boots to sneakers, all outfitted in the synthetic-coated material of the season: white patent leather.

“I think white patent will be very important this season, with the ‘60s and ‘70s trending so heavily,” Jerry Friedman, a sales representative for Pedro Anton footwear, said. “Nancy Sinatra had the tall shaft boot—that was a big deal back then.”

The material was showcased most prominently on mid-calf and ankle boots, which Friedman said served to complement the “fuller” wid-leg and bell-bottom silhouettes trending in denim and apparel.

“Whenever we bring white back, it usually does really nicely, especially if it’s different and updated,” he added.