2024-04-13
Home Essentials Rise, Rebirth, and Timeless Evolution of Platform Shoes
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Rise, Rebirth, and Timeless Evolution of Platform Shoes

From the origin to the latest trends: a journey into the world of platform shoes. From heels to sneakers, find out more in this article and get useful tips for choosing the perfect model for you.

Rise, Rebirth, and Timeless Evolution of Platform Shoes

The fashion world has been dominated for years by the unmistakable presence of platform shoes. This trend continuously overwhelms and redefines sandals, lace-ups, sneakers and ankle boots, created with the intention of giving height and momentum to the figure. There are numerous people who appreciate these shoes, and we see them proudly worn by celebrities such as Elodie, who recently sported Versace’s platform heels, or Anne Hathaway, who opted for Valentino’s.

Whether we are talking about platform heels, boots or especially sneakers, the latter represent one of the biggest trends in the footwear scene.

Platform sneakers, particularly in vogue, are fashionable shoes capable of slimming the figure without the need to resort to traditional high heels, which are often uncomfortable to wear for long days. They offer the wearer a perfect balance of elegance, comfort and versatility, suitable for both an informal and a more sophisticated look.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
THE CROC EMBOSSED KIKI ANKLE BOOT
Photo credit: Marc Jacobs website

Many designers presented platform footwear on their catwalk, including Marc Jacobs, who revived the famous kiki platform in his 2023 fashion show, an iconic model already introduced in his fall/winter 2016 collection.

With the spring 2023 show, Jacobs reaffirmed the importance of this cult piece, pairing it with almost the entire collection and flanked by Mary Janes always with platform and vertiginous heels.

However, the real novelty was brought by Gucci, which was able to combine two dominant trends in the fashion scene: loafers and platforms. With the arrival of new creative director Sabato De Sarno, Gucci presented an innovative vision focused on color, iconography and silhouettes during the Spring ’24 show at Milan Fashion Week last September. One of the most significant innovations was the introduction of platform loafers, available in a variety of styles, including the new Gucci red “Rosso ancora”, chosen and baptized by De Sarno for his first show as creative director of the maison.

De Sarno, prior to joining Gucci, worked  for Valentino as fashion director for men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, with a particular emphasis on footwear. During his tenure, Valentino footwear was bold and innovative, with the introduction of platforms and distinctive details that helped to further emphasize and enhance the brand’s garments on the runway. With his new role at Gucci, De Sarno could bring this same philosophy to the footwear industry, introducing new trends and renewing the brand’s iconic style.

The Origins of Platform Shoes

The roots of platform shoes can be traced back  to ancient Greek theatre, where it was common to use platforms for the protagonists of performances. This practice was revived in Europe in the Middle Ages with the introduction  of patten, thick-soled boot covers that allowed you to walk on damp and dirty streets due to the rain and dirt of the time. In Venice, platform shoes became popular, reaching heights of up to 50 cm, and were known as Chopines, a symbol of status and power.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Chopines
Photo credit: metmuseum

Meanwhile, in Asia, these footwear evolved through Japanese geta and later with the introduction of the okobo.

The modern version of platform shoes, as we know them today, is attributed to Roger Vivier, who in 1937 designed the first platform sandal for the Elsa Schiaparelli brand. These shoes soon became a symbol of glamour and were worn by some of Hollywood’s most famous personalities, arousing the admiration of wealthy women in Beverly Hills. Subsequently, Salvatore Ferragamo created a rainbow pattern inspired by actress Judy Garland in the film The Wizard of Oz.

Salvatore Ferragamo’s platform shoes

In 1938, Salvatore Ferragamo introduced the eccentric  “rainbow” platform sandals to the market, representing a bold combination of unprecedented stylistic and technological innovation. These sandals, so named for their vibrant rainbow hues, featured the combination of a leather-covered cork wedge and a platform.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Rainbow (1938)
Photo credit: Ferragamo website

The use  of cork instead of steel inside shoes marked a real revolution in the world of footwear, offering a more comfortable, flexible and lighter alternative to the metal slats patented by Ferragamo in 1931. This substitution was not only a technical choice, but was also influenced by the historical events of the time, such as fascism and World War II, which made it difficult to find the metal.

Ferragamo thus proved to be not only a master of design, but also a pioneer of the footwear industry. His innovation improved the balance, stability and comfort of the shoes, offering more natural support to the foot and evenly distributing the weight of the body, creating footwear that was not only aesthetically appealing, but also incredibly functional.

Who is Salvatore Ferragamo?

Salvatore Ferragamo, renowned Italian footwear designer and founder of the eponymous fashion house, was born in 1898 in Bonito, Italy, showing a fervent passion for shoes from an early age. After a brief work experience in a shoe factory in the United States, he moved to California where he took up the art of creating and repairing footwear for the emerging film industry. His relentless pursuit of quality and comfort led him to study anatomy, introducing innovations such as  the shank, a steel plate that supports the arch of the foot and allows the foot to move like an inverse pendulum, in his creations.

In 1927, back in Italy, he established a workshop in Florence, blending the Italian craft tradition with modern production techniques, despite the financial challenges of 1929. His creations, famous for the combination of Italian classicism and modern innovation, won over prominent clients such as Hollywood stars and international elites.

Ferragamo, attentive to the individual needs of its customers, offered custom-made shoes based on foot size. In the fashion world, she participated in the first fashion show organized by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in 1951. However, his frail health led to his death in 1960, leaving his wife Wanda and daughters to continue his legendary brand, turning it into a fashion icon.

But let’s go back to platform shoes and examine the evolution of these footwear to the present day.

The Decline and Rebirth of Platform Shoes

In the 50s there was a decline of platform shoes because a more sober and elegant fashion was proposed with stiletto heels that  triumphed because of the glamour and refinement that denoted those years.

Everything changed  in the 70s when there was a renewed interest in the 30s and 40s and in the fashion of the time, linked to the need for more comfortable shoes and the culture that rejected stiletto heels for the discomfort they bring when walking, encouraging the return of platform shoes.  

Next came  the glam rock decadence  that contributed greatly to the creation of eccentric platform shoes. In fact, this style is characterized by flashy clothes and excessive ornamentation. In these years we can mention the unmistakable style of David Bowie with his large platform boots.

In the 80s, platform shoes were once again in decline, but thanks to designer Vivienne Westwoord, an icon  of punk and activism, by the end of the decade they were back in fashion with her Crini collection that included platform shoes designed to place female beauty high on a pedestal.

Today, they are still trending, and many argue that this is due to the influence of the 2000s. It was in 2019 that Vivienne Westwood collaborated with Buffalo London to create a collection of sandals and wedges for spring.

The capsule combines the design of some of the most iconic footwear of the punk designer and the legendary British brand that created the unforgettable platform sneakers in 1995.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Vivienne Westwood x Buffalo
Pirate Boot Platform
Photo credit: Vivienne Westwood Facebook

Buffalo’s platform sneakers

How do Buffalo’s platform sneakers come about

Buffalo’s platform sneakers originated in a period steeped in youthful rebellion and fervent creative energy, particularly accentuated during the explosion of German-inspired rave and techno in the 80s and 90s.

Although they gained widespread popularity thanks to the Spice Girls’ attention in the 90s, Buffalo were already an underground icon well before the British band was formed. These shoes quickly became a symbol  of a new wave of freedom and optimism, fueled by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the advent of a new era of history.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Buffalo Classics
Photo credit: Buffalo boots website

Despite their brief moment of glory, the Buffalos are back in the limelight today, with the brand itself deciding to relaunch the mythical Buffalo Classics model  after almost three decades. This rebirth, while maintaining the spirit of the 90s, sees the use of better and innovative materials.

Today there are many brands that offer platform sneakers because they are a comfortable and effective solution for those who want to achieve a slimmer silhouette. And it’s not just for women! In fact, there are different models for men as well. Brands like Nike, Vans, Adidas, and Puma have all created their own versions of platform sneakers, offering a mix of style, comfort, and support, for both women and men.   

Loved by all for their versatility, in fact they can be combined with jeans for informal occasions but also with an elegant suit to go to the office.

Tips for women and men: the fashion platform sneakers in 2024

Nike  is the first brand we want to talk about, as in the last year it has launched several platform sneakers, including the Nike Court Vision Alta, characterized by a height of 4 cm that allows you to slim the figure without sacrificing comfort. The foam midsole provides soft support to the foot and excellent cushioning when walking.

We can’t forget the iconic Nike Air Force One, loved by people of all ages and both genders. These basketball shoes have been reinvented with the addition of a higher sole, which does not compromise the original design but offers excellent cushioning thanks to the foam midsole and good grip thanks to the rubber outsole.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Air Force 1 Low PLT.AF.ORM
Photo credit: Nike website

Vans also  presented its classic model in a platform version, ideal for everyday use.

And hear hear, the Adidas Gazelle have also been proposed with platforms, maintaining the original design that has made them famous and loved over the years, but reinterpreted in a modern key. Available in a wide range of colors, they feature a rubber sole for safe walking and a suede upper suitable for all seasons.

We mentioned that men can also play platforming. The Puma brand  has proposed the PUMA X-Ray 2 Square, designed as football and training shoes to ensure that they are very cushioned and therefore comfortable and comfortable.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
Adidas ALPHABOOST V1
Photo credit: Adidas website

For those who prefer an even sportier model, the Adidas Alphaboost V1 gymnastics sneakers  with a high sole offer excellent comfort and support, ideal for both gym workouts or even running in addition to everyday life. What’s special about these shoes is that they are made in part from recycled materials and boast the innovative adiprene+ cushioning technology.

Platform sneakers: how to choose them?

After reading this article, are you tempted to buy a pair of platform sneakers? Here are some tips that might help you choose the ideal shoes.

First, make sure that the height of the platform does not exceed 4-5 cm, otherwise you may experience difficulty walking and lose the comfort you are looking for.

The selection of the sole is a crucial step: it is advisable to opt for platform sneakers with a rubber sole, as this material offers better grip on any type of surface. As for the midsole, make sure it’s soft and has a good level of cushioning. Materials such as foam or memory foam are often used  to ensure proper support and optimal comfort.

platform shoes | shoestechnologies
GAZELLE BOLD
Photo credit: Adidas website

Platform sneakers are the perfect solution to achieve a slender silhouette, while maintaining comfort and following the latest fashion trends.

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