“I feel like a gazelle that’s just been born,” said one woman strapping back on the stilettos.
By Ruth La Ferla
As she dressed for her 26th birthday recently, Cleo Pac Monrose focused on making a statement. Ms. Monrose, a podcast marketer for Spotify, flicked the dust off her party clothes and the high-heeled lavender pumps she had been hoarding since just before lockdown.
Slipping the shoes on, she felt unsteady at first. “It was like a whole new role for my feet. We haven’t been here in a while,” she said. She soon regained her bearings. “It’s kind of riding a bike,” she said. “You get right back up.”
Wait. Wasn’t it only a moment ago that shoppers were lamenting — or cheering, take your pick — the sorry demise of stilettos and skyscraper heels, ditching their party shoes during lockdown for the comfort of sneakers and clogs?
High-heeled shoes were at the point of flatlining, industry pundits fretted, teetering on the edge of extinction.
Fast forward a few months to find those consumers making a sharp sutorial pivot: trading comfort and function for the joy of dressing up. They are itching, after more than a year of confinement, to step up their style game in towering heels.
“People are so tired of these comfy sloppy outfits,” said Daniel Harris, 18, a freelance fashion consultant in Kingsport, Tenn. “We’ve gone through a year and some change of everybody being holed up in the house. Now we’re popping on those heels again and going out.”
Amen to that, professional trend watchers say. Markdowns of high-heeled shoes have dipped in recent months, one indication that those who can afford them are snapping up “heels” at full price, said Sidney Morgan-Petro, head of retail and buying for WGSN, a trend forecasting service in New York. Last year was an anomaly, so it may be too soon to call this a boom, Ms. Morgan-Petro said. “But high-heeled shoes are having a moment right now.”
Matt Priest, president and chief executive of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, was as upbeat, noting a perceptible spike in the sale of dress shoes. “As events — whether concerts, theater or parties — return, we expect to see a resurgence,” he said. “The question comes down to, will our industry have enough inventory?”
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