Brace Yourself for the Return of the High Heel

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I usually blend into crowds, but today I'm standing out. Standing a few inches higher, in fact – and the impact is noticeable. As I sail into a packed room full of fashion people at a cocktail party for a swanky e-commerce site, they stare. Later, someone pulls me aside for a photo when I'd normally languish in a corner trying to observe the scene. You see, for a week, I've been wearing a pair of leopard-print AGL block heels that elevate me to 6ft tall.

As I watched heels stomping down the AW16 runways this past winter – the needle-thin stilettos at Miu Miu, the Forties-style wedges worn over argyle stockings at Prada, the Marc Jacobs platforms that elevated even Lady Gaga to model height – I had, it must be confessed, a sinking feeling. After all, for the past few years comfortable sneakers, clogs, and even the once-reviled Birkenstock have become sartorially acceptable. We've been walking on clouds, our toes spread, our arches lovingly supported, and ready for running everything from errands to a marathon. But just as sneakers once felt fresh and subversive, it now feels deliciously rebellious to break out from the lockstep of the Stan Smith-loving hordes and put on a massive pair of heels, to stride into a room full of people in athleisure wear.


The Carrie Bradshaw power shoes of 15 years ago – spiky Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos bearing five-inch heels and four-figure price tags – were edged out in SS13 by couture sneakers and Céline's 'furkenstocks' (the mink-lined Birkenstocks). Even more prosaic styles like adidas Stan Smiths and Nike Flyknits became street-style catnip, with sales of sneakers spiking in the last three years.

According to the analytics company Edited, online sales of women's sneakers more than doubled between January 2013 and January 2015. In 2013, 93 styles of sneakers sold out as opposed to a whopping 977 last year. Meanwhile, 2014 saw the highest number of new sneakers in UK stores in recorded history. But while women have embraced practical footwear – Kanye West might as well have been talking about my daily shoe rotation when he said, 'Some days I'm in my Yeezys, some days I'm in my Vans' – designers seem ready to move on.
Welcome to the return of the high heel!

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