Good news: eye-wateringly expensive shoes aren't cool anymore. Just take a look at this season's street style. Instead of big-budget brands, editors, buyers, stylists, and bloggers were championing a new wave of lesser-known, independent footwear designers. From Icelandic label Kalda’s butter-soft leather sling-backs to Berlin-based Aeyde’s intricate sculptural heels, the new crop of favorites offers comfort, sustainability, and affordability without skimping on design values.
How does a fashion editor come across a small Icelandic brand like Kalda in the first place? Social media, of course. "I would have to credit Instagram," founder Katrín Alda Rafnsdottir says of how people discover her label. "It has been instrumental in reaching a new audience, especially buyers and industry people."
Finding cool new designers feels even better when the price is right. Most of these footwear labels pitch a pair of luxury leather shoes at around $300 — not exactly fast-fashion cheap, but far more accessible than the latest $6K feather boots by Saint Laurent. "We source the same materials as big luxury houses," explains Aeyde co-founder Luisa Krogmann. "But due to our direct-to-consumer approach and strong digital strategy, we're able to provide our products at a different price point."
If designer-looking shoes without the designer price tag sound good to you, read on for six of the new cult footwear brands currently on our radar.