It’s been a minute since we last spoke about lockdown fashion. Two years ago, our dependable jogging bottoms and quarter-zips became constants in our wardrobe. There was no call for party dresses or office attire (unless we were wearing them to sit in front of a computer screen in our front room) and there definitely wasn’t any reason to put on a pair of heels. Now, as our plans have graduated beyond the confines of our home, we’ve shifted our unshapely, over-worn sweats to the side of our wardrobe to make way for more structured, adult-appropriate clothing.
However, after a summer of finally travelling again and about a million and one weddings – and as we enter a new, colder season – we're reminded of the comfy cosies we once lived in and our propensity for staying home (which, for many of us, is still very much there). But choosing to be a couch potato isn’t as easy a decision when you and your friends are equally wanting to do the most, from weekend brunches and birthday celebrations to date nights and the music gigs we so dearly missed. So, ahead of our ever-busy main character lives this autumn, fashion has given us a sort of middle-ground safety blanket and a solution to the push and pull of post-pandemic FOMO: slipper shoes.
Back in 2020, UGG (the original outdoor-slipper contender) saw a surge in sales, with retailers like Schuh reporting a 35% increase in slipper sales compared to the autumn/winter season prior. Influenced by celebrity fans of the brand including Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Bieber and several of the Kardashian Jenners, and fuelled by our lockdown desire to be comfy yet put-together, the fluffy slipper shoe with hard enough soles to be worn outside became something of a fashion staple. Bolstered by Crocs' timely takeover (another renaissance that seemed inevitable during the pandemic), more brands than ever are offering their own versions of slippers and clogs – and often a mixture of the two.
From designers like Prada and Amina Muaddi offering proper slippers at luxury prices to more contemporary, plush styles from the likes of Dear Frances and Sézane, the autumn/winter offering of comfy footwear is at an all-time high. For the gorpcore crew, there’s been a surge in puffer-style slip-ons too, from brands like Hunter Boots and The North Face (naturally). At spring/summer 2023, London designer KNWLS sent models down the catwalk in full-blown UGG boots, while Chopova Lowena made a case for glittery pom-pom slippers that our 12-year-old self could have only dreamed of. In the same way that we reintegrated all things sequinned and impractical into our wardrobe, brands have taken to offering a range of slipper shoes, from the traditionally functional to the eccentrically bold.
While comfort is a major element of the slipper shoe’s popularity, plush shoes have long been the off-duty uniform of models and celebrities who, outside of their paparazzi-captured downtime, spend so much of their lives in full glam. Whether it’s Kendall Jenner popping out in leggings and UGG slip-ons or Hailey Bieber leaving her Pilates class in fuzzy Prada slides, not only does the slipper trend seem less like a fashion faux pas thanks to the blurring of the line between loungewear and streetwear, it also comes across as a modern statement of carefree luxury.
Of course, the actual practicality of looking so carefree in a slipper shoe during the autumn and winter months is, well, questionable. Considering the fact that these popular styles are made from materials like shearling, suede, faux fur and wool, Britain's less-than-favourable weather will surely remind us why slippers were made to be worn indoors in the first place. But if there’s anything we’ve learned after the years of the pandemic, it's that nothing is certain and sometimes it’s fun to live life on the edge. So why not live our best outside lives while being comfortable, albeit a little bit soggy?