Different Strokes for Different Folks: Loafers vs Ballet Flats

BY SOPHIA TRIMBLE

Is the loafer trend here to stay, or just another fleeting fashion fad?

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18 OCT - 2022

Everyone and their Mum owns a pair of chunky loafers these days, but there’s a new slip on shoe in town - the ballet flat.

In 2021, we saw loafers appearing everywhere we looked - on runways, in lookbooks, all over social media, before they took to the streets. But where did it all start? Loafers are definitely not a new shoe, so what’s with the big revival?

Apart from being a nod to 90’s fashion, which of course has made its way around again, I’m ultimately putting it down to Prada, who dropped their black chunky loafer (a bit of spice added to their existing loafer options) in June last year. After Prada’s extreme success, their chunky loafers took over the internet and we saw a bunch of other brands and designers following suit and releasing their own style of regurgitated loafer. Usually chunky, but sometimes in other styles - with tassels, in different colourways, sans chunk, extra chunk.

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@EnyaUmanzor

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@EmmaChamberlain

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We then saw loafers hastily hitting every shoe shop thinkable. Before we knew it, fast fashion brands had swooped in to capitalise on the trend, and now loafers are considered a pretty standard, mainstream shoe, whereas at the start of all of this, only the ‘cool’ kids were wearing loafers.

This loafer trend could be for many reasons, one of which is practicality. Their simple design makes loafers a breeze to slip on and off, and the right brand will be as comfy as a cloud. Another reason for the takeoff of the loafer is the fact that they are a unisex shoe, therefore accessible to more people. Or perhaps it’s down to influencers like Emma Chamberlain or Enya Umanzor, doing what they do best - influencing, and leading us to the light with loafers.

So are loafers here to stay? Or are they just another fleeting fashion fad?

Recently, there’s been another slip-on shoe around town, threatening the reign of the loafer - the ballet flat. With the rise of balletcore fashion, we are starting to see more and more ballet flats floating around. Although there are a few similarities between loafers and ballet flats, it’s interesting to see that after a (usually black) almost militant style shoe like the chunky loafer, we are completely 180ing and moving towards a more feminine, daintier shoe with softer colour options, like the ballet flat.

Just like we saw with loafers, the return of the ballet flat brings with it various styles. The Maison Margiela Tabi style (high-fashion horse hoof vibe), ballet flats with a very small block heel, and even ballet slippers like the Miu Miu ballerina pumps, are all starting to look like the favoured designs.

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In saying all of that, maybe the ballet flat will only appeal to a niche group of people, like the balletcore or croquette aesthetic girlies, and we won’t see the growth that we saw in loafers. One thing the ballet flat doesn't have on loafers is that they’re less appealing to men. Of course fashion is not gendered, but it might be a while before we start seeing tradies in ballet flats.

Whether the chunky loafer dies out and makes way for the ballet flat or not, both are a fierce and fashionable choice of slip-on in their own way. Some people are still scarred from ballet flats circa 2008 to venture back down that rabbit hole, which I completely understand. Although, unlike 2008, this time around, we probably won’t be pairing them with skinny jeans. Personally, unless I can somehow get my hands on the Miu Miu ballerina pumps, I will be sticking to my loafers for now. Different strokes for different folks afterall.

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@TinyJewishGirl

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