If you haven’t heard of “flatgate” by now – you soon will. At the Cannes film festival recently celebrities were being told to head back to the hotel for high heel shoes if they showed up in flats. Now you might be thinking, ‘how can this seriously be true?’ But unfortunately – it was! Evidently the dress code of this strict and posh event outlines that celebrities must wear high heels to be ‘dressy’ enough to attend the event. Imagine? The height of your shoes, not the look or style of them, now dictates whether they are appropriate attire or not.
The Hollywood Reporter quickly dubbed it “Flatgate.” And actress Emily Blunt said, “We shouldn’t be wearing high heels anyways…I just prefer wearing Converse.” I’m sure many of you would agree!
The reality is we are in the midst of a comfort movement nationwide – 85 percent of women surveyed in NPD’s 2014 Footwear Brand Focus Study stated that comfort is extremely or very important when shopping for footwear, more than any other attribute. So while it used to be – ‘beauty at any cost’ now it’s just ‘fashion that really fits’. It’s a welcome change for many women who do want to be perceived as fashionable but don’t want never-healing blisters and painfully sore feet to prove it.
NPD’s Retail Tracking Service data shows that unit sales of women’s flat/low-heeled footwear grew 1 percent during the 12 months ending April 2015, while sales of high-heeled footwear declined 2 percent*. In addition, as active apparel continues to gain in popularity, dollar sales of women’s sneakers (both performance and fashion) increased 11 percent in the last year**.
Will female celebrities start wearing sneakers under their dresses at major award shows and industry events? Unlikely, but perhaps the Cannes backlash will help to drive greater acceptance of more practical footwear choices for women. After all, unless you’re a super model or celebrity accustomed to wearing heels almost every day – your feet will hurt if you wear them for a long period of time so let’s all get real and start being accepting of a fashionably adorned flat-foot style.
*Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, 12 Months Ending March 2015
**Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service, 12 Months Ending April 2015