Whether it’s a limited-edition sneaker, a pool slide or a slipper-style mule, the flat shoe has dominated the catwalks for the past few years. With a move towards more wearable outfits in the real world, women are casting aside skyscraper heels in favour of glamorous flat options which are no less feminine but far more comfortable. London’s footwear designers are pioneers in the field of flat styles, creating chic yet practical options from loafers to whimsical ballet pumps that continue to captivate fashion fans.
Charlotte Olympia Dellal, founder of the Charlotte Olympia brand, has been creating covetable footwear since 2008. The designer is best known for her signature Kitty flats, an endearing twist on the ballet slipper with an embroidered cat’s face and pointy ears at the toe. The Kitty is now available in a range of colours and styles, including backless slippers, pool slides and espadrilles in every design from leopard print to the British flag; it’s hard to believe these ultra-modern shoes were inspired by Agatha Christie’s novel Cat Among The Pigeons, published in 1959. The Kitty slippers first appeared in the 2011 To Die For range, and Dellal was initially surprised at the motif’s success. ‘It was never intended to be what it became,’ she told Luxury London; however, it remains as popular as ever and is now part of the Encore collection. If there is one item from Charlotte Olympia’s charming range to get your claws into, the Kitty is it.
For those who prefer a bespoke edge to their fabulous flats, Nicholas Kirkwood has the answer. The brand’s Beya flat has been spotted on a host of celebrities, including supermodel Gigi Hadid, and Kirkwood recently launched a customisation service on his website that allows customers to create their own Beya loafer or mule.
Russell & Bromley
Russell & Bromley is a British brand with a New Bond Street flagship and a storied history that is reflected in its current ranges of luxury footwear. Heritage styles such as the brand’s loafers are the perfect way to smarten up a cropped trouser suit or lend a touch of boyish charm to a midiskirt and cashmere jumper combo. In recent seasons, the brand’s flats have flying off the shelves. ‘We’re seeing a real move towards lower midi heels and flats and away from the higher heels which used to dominate the fashion trends,’ says Stefanie Hutton, the brand’s head of PR. ‘The sports trend has really influenced women’s choice of footwear so we naturally saw that women were seeking comfort and fashion in one shoe.’
For autumn/winter 2017/18 this commitment to combining comfort with fashion translates into wine-coloured ballet pumps with velvet ribbons, red slippers embroidered with a pink and gold floral design, flatform trainers, chunky black ankle boots with a spray of gemstones at the toe and, of course, tasselled and horse-bit loafers in a range of colours and styles. ‘Our heritage is in mannish loafers and heritage style has come full circle to be fashionable and on-trend currently,’ explains Hutton. ‘We update in seasonal colours and experiment with new textures, such as brocade and embellishment but, ultimately, keep it simple.’ To this end, Russell & Bromley has even revived archived. ‘Very positively, we have brought back our classic Brewster snaffle loafer due to popular demand,’ notes Hutton.
Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, creative director of Kurt Geiger, believes the popularity of the flat lies in its ability to be worn every day. ‘Flats have become huge over the last few seasons and have become a daily staple to suit everyday style.’ Farrar-Hockley highlights the brand’s ‘backless slippers’ as one of the most popular styles for spring/summer 2017, and this is set to continue. For the coming season, she says, ‘many of our flats are elevated with embellishments taking you from everyday style to eveningwear.’ From the velvet Kingly Mary Jane-style flat with embellished strap to the Carvela black and gold Lounge slipper, there are plenty of styles to take you from meeting to dinner party and beyond.
Kurt Geiger’s secret is to encourage designers to create footwear with a personal touch. ‘A large majority of product designed [here] is formed around the team’s desire to create footwear that they would wear themselves,’ Farrar-Hockley explains. A switched-on design team who have an eye for taste and trends means the latest Kurt Geiger range contains winning flat styles, whether you’re looking for trainers, slippers or loafers. ‘Many of our sell-out flat styles – such as the Lamar trainer and KG’s Otter backless mule – have been repeated for the forthcoming season, demonstrating that our seasonal hero styles retain their appeal,’ says Farrar-Hockley.
With so many styles returning for the autumn/winter season, the trend for flats is showing no sign of abating. Our feet are grateful for the elegance as well as the comfort factor.