Modern brides are trading veils for beaded headpieces, sit-down receptions for garden parties and cakes for cupcake tiers. So it’s perfectly natural that they’re rejecting the ivory satin pumps of past generations, too. While tradition took precedence at the recently held New York Bridal Week, where designers looked to lace overlays and sleeves for Fall ’13, classic shoes aren’t de rigeur for walking down the aisle anymore.
“We at Nina are noticing that brides, in general, are increasingly focused on individualism. It seems the bride wants to break the glass ceiling, express her style and ultimately own her look,” reports Kerry Magnusson, Nina’s director of bridal merchandising, who says that glitter and brooches are trending. “Materials and textiles have taken center stage in footwear design,” she adds. “It’s all about textures and infusing luster into the fabrications. We are also seeing brides who are open to color outside of the typical ivory, champagne and metallic.”
Saadia Hussain, spokesperson for French Sole, agrees: “Bridal shoes used to be just specific fabrics and most likely a pump or a heel. Now brides really can wear anything from a flat with jewelry ornaments to a teal colored shoe,” she says. The chic ballet flat purveyor launched its first-ever bridal collection last summer. The line includes glitter and satin styles and wholesales for $85 to $102. “Not all brides want to wear a heel through the ceremony, photography session and reception; brides also want shoes to dance the night away in,” she says, adding, “They definitely love the memory attached to the shoe, but they want something they can wear repeatedly.”
“Bridal shoes are less precious,” notes Paul Mayer, the Parisian designer behind Paul Mayer Attitudes. “Brides are looking for shoes that are stylish, but also will make it through hours of a wedding.” Mayer says his lace ballet flats and kitten heels are popular among brides looking for comfortable shoes that will carry them through the big day. “My shoes offer a drawstring for width adjustment, comfortable soles to help support the lower back and high coverage around the toe area to hide any imperfections such as bunions.”
And while peak bridal season is typically March through October, couples get engaged every day and, similarly, ceremonies occur year-round. For this reason Magnusson says it’s important that retailers maintain a bridal presence 365 days a year. “The bridal footwear business is thriving, however in a new direction,” she says. “It’s an exciting time in the bridal design world and I belive the focus on individualism is going to gain momentum in 2013 and beyond.”