High heels among key 2012 footwear trends

While fashion predictors have been focusing on the increasing prevalence of practical footwear for 2012, chunky mules and platforms are also among the prominent shoe styles for this year.

Following interviews with representatives from department stores including Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue, a report published January 4 in WWD suggests that high heels are far from past their prime.

According to Barneys New York fashion director Amanda Brooks, 1990s-style slinky silhouettes will be prominent, as will clumpier platform styles.

"We are seeing a shift toward a 1990s-inspired, single-sole pump silhouette la Manolo Blahnik," she said.

"C ´┐Żline introduced a new take on the platform shoe, Alexander Wang showed great novelty in his lug-sole monk-strap oxfords, and Prada embraced a 1970s-inspired mule with a chunkier heel."

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Kanfer of Saks Fifth Avenue predicted elegance will be key, citing ankle-strap sandals and wedges as Spring must-haves and velvet shoes for Fall.

"The entire market has moved forward to show more sophisticated and elevated collections," said Kanfer.

In terms of rising designers, Tabitha Simmons was a popular choice among the retailers, while Charlotte Olympia and Gianvito Rossi also rated highly.

Aside from towering heels, Brooks adds that more stylish takes on practical attire should continue to do well too.

"We also love the highly designed everyday shoes, such as rainboots and espadrilles, which our customer really responds to," she added.

Such trends are more in keeping with the prediction by technology corporation IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) that 2012 will see a rise in flat shoes after its analysis of online buzz related to heels over the past four years. According to its report released in November, enthusiastic discussions about high heels peaked at the end of 2009, while last year social media was dominated by comments praising practical footwear.

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