If you thought ballet slippers were just for women, COVID-19 has news for you.

While first picked up outside the world of dance by women, these days ballet slippers are increasingly showing up on men’s feet. And they’re not the only shoe style making their way from women’s feet to those of men; certain styles of clogs, ankle boots and flat sandals are also giving men more choice when it comes to footwear.

A good hour’s walk down the street is enough to realize that the boundaries between men and women in terms of clothing are becoming increasingly blurred. Even if retailers’ shelves still stock collections according to gender, man or woman, girl or boy. These distinctions could eventually disappear, or at least be reduced, with the explosion of unisex collections. But while ready-to-wear finally seems to be adapting to the ‘non-gendered’ movement, what about the shoe segment?

While brands are not yet proposing 12-cm stilettos to gentlemen — though that said, why aren’t they? — there are numerous designers who are creating masculine versions of models originally designed for their female clients. Ballet slippers are a notable example and have been for a few months a key accessory for some stylish men, who seem to appreciate the comfort and timeless look they offer.

[Hero Image Credit: Christina Victoria Craft/Unsplash; Featured Image Credit: Dries van Noten]

Men in ballet slippers on the runway

For the spring-summer 2020 season, brands focused on so-called feminine shoes for men, and the ballet slipper reigned supreme on the catwalks. Dries Van Noten is one of the daring houses that did not hesitate to offer models for men. The remarkable presentation did not leave male fashion fans indifferent and it also seemed to get noticed by fast-fashion brands, which also entered the segment. The e-shops of many major brands generally now offer them in “slip-on” or “mule” categories.

During the catwalk shows, other houses also jumped on the bandwagon with revisited versions including Lanvin, Jil Sander, and even Fendi, whose strapped shoes for men were all the rage.

New dressing habits

While major luxury houses have paved the way for men to wear ballet slippers, another factor has hastened their democratization: the health crisis. In particular, it’s the lockdown measures that have changed our clothing habits — for men as well as women. Not only have men dropped the suit and tie, but they have also swapped their oxfords and derbies for much more comfortable shoes, and ballet slippers are part of that trend.

And these shoes originally designed for the dance crowd aren’t the only such style to conquer men’s hearts. Croc-style clogs, low leather boots, comfortable UGG-type booties and large-strapped flat sandals are also equally appreciated by each gender.

The rise of unisex fashion

For a few seasons now, fashion has been marching towards unisex styles. Boundaries between genders are less relevant with new collections, brands are committed to ranges that can suit both men and women. And consumers looking for non-gendered pieces are delighted with the new options. T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jeans, jackets, parkas, sportswear — today it’s possible for all kinds of couples to share wardrobes.

And shoes are not left out of the equation. The most striking example are sneakers, which have become a must for both women and men, whether for leisure or work. Apart from size, what criteria could prevent you from choosing a female or male model? None, considering that brands offer similar, if not identical, models for men and women.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.

Staff Writer