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Comfort-Focused Footwear is Here to Stay

Published 21 September 2022

6 min read

From elevated pool slides to cosy clogs, the post-pandemic popularity of comfortable and versatile footwear shows no sign of abating. Here, we break down the key products, visual drivers and opportunities behind this growing trend.

As highlighted in Workwear’s Post-Lockdown Makeover, sneakers are reigning supreme as the new office footwear of choice thanks to both their innate comfort and sartorial street cred. But another lifestyle-led silhouette – the slip-on clog or mule – is resonating strongly with post-pandemic consumers and their hybrid lifestyles for much the same reason.

More specifically, Birkenstock’s Boston Clog is having a moment, earning a spot on fashion search engine Lyst’s 2022 Q2 index of hot products, while TikTok videos tagged #BirkenstockBoston have collectively amassed over 58 million views. In addition, having sold out at multiple retailers, the limited editions made in collaboration with streetwear favourite Stussy and luxury footwear brand Manolo Blahnik are selling for considerably more than their retail prices on resale sites like StockX.

As highlighted in Workwear’s Post-Lockdown Makeover, sneakers are reigning supreme as the new office footwear of choice thanks to both their innate comfort and sartorial street cred. But another lifestyle-led silhouette – the slip-on clog or mule – is resonating strongly with post-pandemic consumers and their hybrid lifestyles for much the same reason.

More specifically, Birkenstock’s Boston Clog is having a moment, earning a spot on fashion search engine Lyst’s 2022 Q2 index of hot products, while TikTok videos tagged #BirkenstockBoston have collectively amassed over 58 million views. In addition, having sold out at multiple retailers, the limited editions made in collaboration with streetwear favourite Stussy and luxury footwear brand Manolo Blahnik are selling for considerably more than their retail prices on resale sites like StockX.

Birkenstock Boston

Birkenstock Boston

Birkenstock Boston

Birkenstock Boston
Birkenstock Boston
Birkenstock Boston

Birkenstock x Stussy

Birkenstock x Manolo Blahnik

Birkenstock x Stussy
Birkenstock x Manolo Blahnik

This, combined with pandemic-induced surges in popularity for convenient, comfortable and versatile brands like Crocs and Ugg, has spurred an industry-wide obsession with ugly-chic slip-ons that merge form with function. Other key products of note include Yeezy’s slides, Adidas’ Adilettes, Eyty’s Capri Sandals, Reebok x Mountain Research Beatnik Slides, Fear of God’s California (which earned a top spot on Lyst’s Q1 2022 hot product index), and Balenciaga’s variety of rubber slides and mules. It’s clear that brands spanning high street to luxury level are seeing the potential.

This, combined with pandemic-induced surges in popularity for convenient, comfortable and versatile brands like Crocs and Ugg, has spurred an industry-wide obsession with ugly-chic slip-ons that merge form with function. Other key products of note include Yeezy’s slides, Adidas’ Adilettes, Eyty’s Capri Sandals, Reebok x Mountain Research Beatnik Slides, Fear of God’s California (which earned a top spot on Lyst’s Q1 2022 hot product index), and Balenciaga’s variety of rubber slides and mules. It’s clear that brands spanning high street to luxury level are seeing the potential.

Yeezy

Adidas Adilette

Fear of God California

Reebok x Mountain Research Beatnik

Balenciaga

Eytys Capri

Yeezy
Adidas Adilette
Fear of God California
 Reebok x Mountain Research Beatnik
Balenciaga
Eytys Capri

And now, a number of smart brands are putting their own spin on it. Last month, sneaker giant New Balance released its 2002R mule. A riff on its popular sneaker style of the same name, it provides just as much opportunity for covetable artist collaborations and limited-edition colourways as its lace-up counterpart. Having previously released a number of slip-on rubber styles, this product drop signifies a visual shift, with New Balance putting its own distinctive mark on the increasingly popular silhouette.

And now, a number of smart brands are putting their own spin on it. Last month, sneaker giant New Balance released its 2002R mule. A riff on its popular sneaker style of the same name, it provides just as much opportunity for covetable artist collaborations and limited-edition colourways as its lace-up counterpart. Having previously released a number of slip-on rubber styles, this product drop signifies a visual shift, with New Balance putting its own distinctive mark on the increasingly popular silhouette.

New Balance 2002R Mule

New Balance 2002R Mule

New Balance 2002R Mule
New Balance 2002R Mule

Elsewhere, New York streetwear label Aimé Leon Dore has released its own interpretation, the rubber Garden Mule. Aside from being the brand’s first entirely original footwear release independent of any outside collaborators, it also sits at a lower and therefore much more accessible price point than its luxury-level apparel offerings.

Finally, US label Simon Miller’s colourful and chunky Bubble Clogs – which have become a signature of the brand in recent seasons – are a key item in its footwear collaboration with American transgender actress and model Tommy Dorfman. This collection reimagines the brand’s classic silhouettes in inclusive, unisex size offerings up to an EU 45.

Elsewhere, New York streetwear label Aimé Leon Dore has released its own interpretation, the rubber Garden Mule. Aside from being the brand’s first entirely original footwear release independent of any outside collaborators, it also sits at a lower and therefore much more accessible price point than its luxury-level apparel offerings.

Finally, US label Simon Miller’s colourful and chunky Bubble Clogs – which have become a signature of the brand in recent seasons – are a key item in its footwear collaboration with American transgender actress and model Tommy Dorfman. This collection reimagines the brand’s classic silhouettes in inclusive, unisex size offerings up to an EU 45.

Simon Miller x Tommy Dorfman

Aimé Leon Dore Garden Mule

Simon Miller x Tommy Dorfman

Simon Miller x Tommy Dorfman
Aimé Leon Dore Garden Mule
Simon Miller x Tommy Dorfman

While comfort is an overarching priority in this category, it doesn’t come at the expense of style. The importance of versatility between at-home convenience and everyday panache cannot be understated. These looks are no longer confined to the home office, and are instead having an impact – both online and in real life – in a major way.

Additionally, the vast array of brands jumping onto the trend, and the subsequent wave of emerging styles, highlights the sheer vastness of its cross-demographic appeal. Look to Crocs for cues on how to experiment with silhouette, colourways and customisation to tap into a wide variety of youth cohorts – from the minimal Sports-Luxe Sartorialists to the maximal Empowered Experimentalists.

While comfort is an overarching priority in this category, it doesn’t come at the expense of style. The importance of versatility between at-home convenience and everyday panache cannot be understated. These looks are no longer confined to the home office, and are instead having an impact – both online and in real life – in a major way.

Additionally, the vast array of brands jumping onto the trend, and the subsequent wave of emerging styles, highlights the sheer vastness of its cross-demographic appeal. Look to Crocs for cues on how to experiment with silhouette, colourways and customisation to tap into a wide variety of youth cohorts – from the minimal Sports-Luxe Sartorialists to the maximal Empowered Experimentalists.

Crocs

Crocs

Crocs
Crocs