The last pair of shoes that I bought were for women. They are black JW Anderson platform loafers from his Pre-Fall collection in 2012. I got them almost brand new from a female seller on Depop (buying/selling app) who fortunately for me had extremely big feet. After receiving them and trying to walk in them for a few hours before an engagement party, (I now know the challenges women have in heels), I knew these were the shoes for me. Regardless of their ‘gender’, they combined elegance and audacity in the simplest of ways.
The JW Anderson platform shoe is traditional in taking it’s model from the 1936 ‘penny loafer’, a slip on men’s shoe with a horizontal strap running across the front. The Irish born designer has then incorporated an extra 3inch platform at the base, giving the shoe its strikingness and apparently, its ‘femininity.’ For me, however, the platform is what appealed the most, not just because it gave a boost to my ‘small’ height, but because of its overall bold design. If when looking at the shoes you take away their ‘gender’ , and look at them purely aesthetically in terms of design and form, they have no reason to be predominantly female. Apparently a platform defines whether they are for men or women. I believe they are neutral and ask the question, why there are not more males wearing platformed or heeled shoes?
This question arose when I decided to look for inspiration for my new shoes and googled ‘men in platform loafers.’ The results were surprisingly sparse. I then tried to find ‘cuban heeled boots for men’ which again provided me with few options. Some boots that did grab my attention however, were the black Rick Owens FW17 Glitter Chunky boots which retailed at £1237. Or Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Rock Chelsea boots retailing at half the price of £640
Although my search results were thin on the ground, both of these boots, designed by the world’s best, are exactly the design and merge of genders I was looking out for. They are punk and avant-garde indulged with futuristic thoughts of how men and women should share footwear. Unfortunately though, such uniqueness and expertise comes at a cost as their extortionate price tags limit their availability dramatically, making the shoes unavailable to a majority of the public.
After searching for shoes similar to the JW Anderson Platform Loafers, I realised that not only are there a very small amount of gender neutral platforms and heels (and that’s if you search deeply), but the choices are limited to either £600 or a £20 pair of gimmick costume shoes found on amazon. There is no in-between. There is no Zara or H&M willing to take the risk and incorporate platforms and heels into men's footwear, whilst the modern day fashion market is crying out for them.
POLAROIDS HETTY MAHLICH
Saint Laurent AW15 Photographs: Fernando Uceda for Dazed Digital