Home Essentials The Mary Jane: from comic books to catwalks, the most desired shoes of every season!

The Mary Jane: from comic books to catwalks, the most desired shoes of every season!

We explore the history, evolution and trends of these iconic footwear

Mary Jane
Mary Jane Chanel

Mary Jane’s over the past few seasons, thanks to their bon-ton style, have been the ideal shoes to complete looks of all kinds: from office to cocktail hour looks.

But what is their history and why are they the must-haves of the season?

A success story

It all started with a comic strip… Yes, you read that right! It was 1902 when cartoonist Richard Felton Outcault invented a strip starring two children: Buster Brown and Mary Jane. Both of them, in each episode, wore the same kind of shoes with a rounded toe and a strap on the back of the foot.

The author became very famous thanks to these comics and with him the shoes as well, to the point that he sold the rights to some brands to give them the opportunity to reproduce the shoes.

Among the companies that replicated them, the most successful was Brown Shoe Company: the shoe company recreated the same shoes for children, which were called BHD Mary Jane Shoes.

mary jane | shoestechnologies
The classic Mary Jane’s
Photo credit: Unsplash

They flooded the market, but later boys no longer wore these shoes, while girls loved them.

It was Coco Chanel who made them an iconic accessory, who loved to wear them in any situation, making them indispensable in the 1920s. They began to be made with heels and women who wanted to have the right mix of mischief and girlish femininity appreciated them very much, wearing them for everyday life or to hang out in ballrooms. In the 1950s they appeared on the feet of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton with a knock-on effect on all the girls of the 1960s allowing these shoes to still be trendy today.

mary jane | shoestechnologies

Décolleté with vintage details
Photo credit: Gucci Website

In recent years, brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, or Dior have celebrated this shoe model by offering Mary Jane models reworked with low heels, round and well-shaped toes with patent leather details.

Mary Jane, the trend of the moment

The latest trend for fall 2023-2024 are Mary Jane, which however seem to modify the classic style of these shoes, in a punk chic key with rubber platforms.

The creative director of Bottega Veneta, Matthieu Blazy, proposes Mary Jane with a lug sole.

mary jane | shoestechnologies
Mary Jane Lug, Bottega Veneta
Photo credit: Bottega Veneta website

The “Mary Jane Lug” model, made of 100% black leather, recalls the punk style but with a bold look thanks to the domed strap with golden finishes and the 5 cm high lug rubber sole.

For those who prefer a heeled version, Bottega Veneta offers the “Décolleté Atomic” model that is modern but reminds us of vintage style. The latter also has the feature of the maxi gold buckle, the sole is made of rubber while the peculiarity lies in the rounded toe and contrasts with the trend of the moment which imposes a return to square lines; but we know that Matthieu Blazy is not interested in adapting to trends but prefers to go his own way.

mary jane | shoestechnologies
Décolleté Atomic, Bottega Veneta
Photo credit: Bottega Veneta website

On social media there are many people wearing this new Mary Jane model, however, it was model Hailey Bieber who made them become a trend: in a photo shot you can see wearing these tank shoes with a white sock, another trend of the moment. There are those who liked the outfit by repurposing it and those who were against it because they defined it as clown shoes.

To date, several brands are trying to reproduce this type of tank shoes, for example, the iconic brand Dr Martens has proposed the “Dr Martens – Mary Jane,” a shoe with the perfect mix of rebellious style and comfort, twisting the classic women’s shoe. They come in black in 100 % shiny, PVC sole and the design of these shoes differs by the brand’s characteristic yellow stitching, perforated upper and double buckle. After this model, several other models with different designs and also more neutral colors were offered by the brand.

mary jane | shoestechnologies
Dr Martens – Mary Jane
Photo credit: Dr Martens website

And what should we expect for 2024 trend?

For spring 2024 things will most likely change, the trend is evolving to increasingly low top Mary Jane style shoes. This is confirmed by the New York fashion shows, where, during the presentation of Tory Burch‘s new collection, models sported low shoes reminiscent of classic ballet flats. The style echoes those that are Mary Jane but are slimmer and more petite.

mary jane
Tory Burch SS24
Photo credit: Tory Burch Instagram

They come in leather, with a T-strap, a side buckle and a slightly more rounded toe reminiscent of Birkenstocks. This is not your typical Mary Jane, it’s something different: lighter and more shaping to the foot.

This is not the first time Burch has offered flat shoes in his collections; in fact, it was the logo ballet flats, proposed on the catwalks 2000, that allowed him to become known. The reappearance of flat shoes in latest fashion was a success after the autumn 2023 season which saw only stilettos and pointed shoes.

mary jane | shoestechnologies
Tory Burch SS24, Mary Jane style shoes
Photo credit: Tory Burch Instagram

This footwear will be appreciated by all women who prefer a low, comfortable model without compromising elegance.

Mary Jane have gone through a long journey in fashion history, not just a passing trend but representing a true evergreen that has never been forgotten or archived. Every year these shoes appear on the catwalks of so many designers offering it with different features but never abandoning their classic style of the 1920s.

And you, do you have a pair of Mary Jane?

mary jane | shoestechnologies
Mary Jane Louis Vuitton
Photo credit: Louis Vuitton website

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