Written by Peyton Haahr
Never would most of us think the day would arrive when models are strutting the catwalk wearing plastic. Yes, plastic – the material our water bottles, phone chargers and television remotes are made out of. But on the runway, plastic was treated with the same attention as silk or satin would. Designers sent looks featuring plastic shoes, skirts, and jackets down the runway with various other fabrics, giving new meaning to the term “industrial”.
But the most important question is how to wear this tricky trend. One word – carefully.
Kanye West, rapper and head designer of Yeezy, first took a stab at the plastic trend about a year ago when he sent models down the runway wearing plastic boots, some that were thigh-high. People had a lot of feelings about them, most commenting on the apparent sweat-box the shoes would be present, and the lack of practicality surrounding them. His wife Kim Kardashian took no notice of the controversy, and went right ahead in showing off her husband’s designs. And this was not the last viewers would see of the trend, as the most historic house of fashion put almost all their models in sky high plastic boots. Chanel paired their iconic tweed looks with lower heeled (always helpful), white tipped boots and fully plastic hats. It was a dynamic connection of technological advances and classic history. But while the general verdict may be to stay away from these types of shoes, there are options to work with them. To alleviate the clamminess (gross, I know), try socks with them. Kendall Jenner has been spotted sporting fishnets under plastic heels, and you can try sheer pairs, ones with sparkle or delicate patterns to make the look stay chic, rather than sweaty.
Balmain took a more dramatic stab. Full trench coats and skirts were paired with similar shoes, much bearing text and pseudo newspaper print. Bodysuits were layered underneath dramatic skirts, stripes played off sequins and oversized shiny leather jackets. All in Balmain style. But this is the realm of plastic that gets very tricky, and relatively impractical. With their shoes, you can pull the same sock trick as with Chanel’s, and these being black also gives them a sense of versatility if you’re willing to give them a shot. Treat them similar to any other boot you would this style, and pull on your favorite jeans – try fringed ones, or with an interesting hem detail! – or skirt, long or short. Keep in mind that if you are putting a sock with them, to make sure it matches. But throwing these on with a classic bomber jacket and jean look can really be a scene stealer.
Last, American powerhouse Alexander Wang made probably the most practical of plastic shoe options (if there is such a thing). Low heels were given thick straps over the toes and near the ankle, with added interest in their diagonal angles. Some of them featured additions of black straps around the front and the back, further connecting them to the fascinating mix of deconstructed dresses and feathered headbands reading “Wangfest”. Wang’s parade of supermodels stalked out of a party bus in New York City, giving a masterclass in the intermix of masculine and feminine styles – and we can take a few cues from this, as well as some tips on how to incorporate these plastic shoes into our own wardrobe. Slouchy pants with cuffs and a sparkly, feminine top can be a perfect combo to show off the unique qualities of the shoes. A classic mini dress in your favorite color can do the trick, too.
While the plastic trend may not be the most practical one, it is one of the most unique ones out there. It’s bound to turn heads, to catch eyes, and drop jaws. While most of us are not steeling from fashion show to fashion show, the street is truly our runway, and the place to show a sense of creativity and expression that is strikingly unique to us.