Goodbye black and white. Hello sun-kissed colors and earthy textures. A first look at Spring ’16 women’s collections at FFANY (June 2-4) revealed a season aglow with warm colors, natural materials and clog-inspired silhouettes.
With designers like Gucci and Chloé showing Seventies-inspired fashion and footwear on the runway—and fast fashion retailers H&M and Zara following up with flare and wide leg pants, head-to-toe denim and fringe for the masses—footwear brands are balancing the exaggerated shapes with sturdy wood heels, wedge and flatform espadrilles and gladiator sandals that are less warrior and more woodland nymph.
In other words, the new styles skew from the athleisure trend brands, retailers and consumers are clamoring for this spring and summer season.
The return to the Seventies fits perfectly in line with Flogg and its signature wood platform and heel designs. “The ’70s are big news,” said Flogg Founder and Creative Director Carol de Leon. She said the brand’s platforms have been huge sellers on both Shopbop and Revolve, but that she expects the business to boom in Spring ’16 as more consumers search for the distinct ’70s look.
Flogg’s orange and gray suede open-toe mules on chunky wood heels lay the framework for more stylized options including wood heels with denim straps embellished with brushed gold hardware and uppers made with a festive mix of zigzag prints. De Leon carries that natural wood look to a range of double strap flatform styles—her version of a Birkenstock—accented with a mosaic of round and square gold hardware.
Spring ’16 is shaping up to be a good season for brands founded on wood heels, like Swedish clog company Calou. The company is reinterpreting the traditional bulbous toe clog as a sleeker slingback, boot, T-strap, thong and open-toe slide. Fashion details, like single monk straps, wide flat bows and flower ornaments add visual interest, but it’s the brand’s seasonal colors, like bubblegum pink and tangerine orange, that draw attention.
Scandinavian clog company, Troentorp, which was founded in 1907, plans to build on that momentum as well with its traditional clog styles, and its younger sister brand, Maguba.
Whereas Maguba mixes wood constructions with more fashionable higher heels, wedges and some material mixing, Troentrop, which is made with sweat-resistant Alder wood, sticks to the classics for consumers who want a more vintage feel. A cherry red leather clog with side buckles is a knockout, while both labels offer strappy and cut-out sandals in a light natural beige—a neutral many brands are choosing to pair with clogs for Spring ’16.
L’Artiste, a division of Spring Footwear, is adding character to its traditional footbed clogs with bright teal and orange perforated uppers. Likewise, brands like Restricted and Rebels are incorporating solid color uppers in both neutrals and brights to wood heel constructions. Ankle straps, slivers of cut-outs and rounded nail heads along the side recreate a retro look. Antelope’s traditional take on the clog, with a patchwork of washed blue and soft pink leather, is a home run.
In general, Antelope is channeling the ’70s with heavy-bottom footwear with wide straps. The Spring ’16 collection includes a broad range of sandals on woven platform wedges and printed platform heels. The line’s cloud-like blue and washed pink leather uppers are paired with a kimono-inspired botanical print platform on a white base.
With footwear brands focusing more on texture and natural fabrications, prints are taking a backseat for Spring ’16, with the exception of prints on a white background. Spring Footwear Vice President, Head of Sales Steven Greenstein said retailers have yet to fully accept the all-white footwear that’s been on the market for the last couple of seasons, despite it being a major trend. As an alternative, the company is showing white-based prints on sandals and wedges. For example, the L’Artiste line includes a chunky white-soled sandal painted with a light blue airbrush effect.
Elona Appleby, founder of the new luxury brand James Carletons, has high hopes for light colored prints in her line of Italian-made footwear. The core collection includes pointed toe T-straps, peep-toes and cap-toe heels made with floral printed leather on an off-white base. Swarovski crystals are embedded in the leather for a hint of shine and shimmer. A range of open-toe ankle boots feature an all-over, watercolor-inspired print on a pale base.
Espadrilles bring a natural lightness to Spring ’16. The seasonal favorite is making a major comeback for Spring ’16 in classic and new shapes.
On the casual end, Coolway is introducing a team of sneaker-inspired espadrilles with dyed jute soles to match printed canvas uppers. The lace-ups are offered in a rusty red and beige colorway, as well as indigo blue and soft pastels. The prints are abstract and watercolor in nature.
Sebago is also playing with dyed espadrille outsoles. In addition to launching three Liberty print espadrille lace-ups, the heritage brand is offering three buttery-soft suede lace-ups in pale pink, gray and It color of the season sea foam green, which have matching dyed espadrille soles.
Joy & Mario is making headway at retail with espadrilles outfitted with phylon midsoles, the same lightweight cushioning athletic brands like Nike and New Balance use in sneakers. The midsoles are carried into the brand’s first men’s collection, which includes Wallabee-style boots, lace-ups and slip-ons.
The brand is also making a splash with unusual materials sourced in Japan and Italy, including color block chambray, twill canvas and iridescent metallic silver. The styles make a bigger statement on chunky flatform espadrilles—a look Cavalone is also testing for spring to complement its range of Stan Smith-inspired sneakers. The European brand brings a glam look to the jute styles with uppers featuring metallic fish scale-inspired textures and lush black suede.
Seeing a need for dressier, cruise-friendly styles, Joy & Mario is an offering a high-end women’s collection with upgraded black lace and sequin fabrications. Ilse Jacobson, best known for chic rainwear, is incorporating dressier wedge espadrille styles in its spring line, as well as unusual sequin-covered espadrille smoking slippers.
As for heels, Penny Loves Kenny adds a swath of suede fringe to espadrille wedges in black, camel and red. Rebels plays up the natural material in a series of platform slides with a giant espadrille bottom that smacks of the 1970s. The brand also adds wisps of jute to chambray slip-on sneakers. Likewise, Dr. Scholl’s adds simple braided jute to rubber bottom sandals in its lifestyle collection.
For Spring ’16, Klub Nico is introducing espadrille sandals on a flatform with a leather cord ankle wrap and uber soft orange leather straps. On wedge slides and on a series of bohemian two-tone slingbacks, the brand pairs touches of jute on cork wedges. The brand also reinterpreted its popular metallic cut-out slip-on sneakers from Fall ’15 as a flatform espadrille, complete with circular laser cuts.
The use of laser cut and perforated treatments to open up shoes has notably scaled back for Spring ’16 compared to previous spring seasons, with round cut-outs being the exception. In addition to Klub Nico, brands like CAT have applied circular cut-outs to short ankle boots in pastel shades of pink, purple and sea foam. Pikolinos bowed a collection of pastel oxfords uppers made entirely out of wide perforations.
Still, it wouldn’t be a spring season without simple sandals, and this year sandals are appearing to be more stripped down than ever. Birkenstock-inspired footbed sandals continue to be relevant, but more brands are introducing sandals crisscross straps.
Dr. Scholl’s is applying crisscross slides to flatform heels in its Meringue Collection. Nomad focused on flat crisscross slides in its new Mediterranean Collection, with a two tone black and tan sandal being a standout, while Bearpaw added a ethnic print to its crisscross sandals. The print could be mistaken for bead work. For Jerusalem Sandals, Spring ’16 is a perfect opportunity to spread word about its line of vegetable tanned leather flat sandals. The brand is launching a college rep program to reach a younger consumers.
Contemporary and diverse are two key words Flogg founder de Leon kept in mind while designing flat sandals—a first for the heel-happy brand. One standout is a line of thong sandals with a circular fringe leather medallion at the toe paired with ethnic prints and hardware. Simpler thong sandals, offered in black, taupe and rusty red, receive a smattering of starburst studs. Other double strap flats are topped off with leather flowers with rounded petals that smack of flower child fashion.
“If you’re going to do a flat, it needs to be special to pop on the shelf,” said de Leon.
Spring ’16 Hits
- Wood heels
- Denim and chambray
- Dusty pastels, especially sea foam green
- Crisscross straps
- Driver mocs
- Color blocking
- Gladiator sandals
Spring ’16 Misses
- Spring boots
- Basic footbed sandals
- Black and white combinations
- Sneakers with any form of heels
- Aggressive tread