From catwalks to trade fairs, summer 2024 will be all about simplicity. A big comeback of ballerinas and kitten heels, while ankle laces are here to stay

[On the cover: N.21, Louis Vuitton and Alberta Ferretti SS24 Fashion shows]

Spring/Summer 2024 has been labelled the ‘season of normality’ or ‘simplicity’ by insiders, even considering the generally more daring Parisian designs. In fashion capitals, the shift towards a widespread ‘quiet luxury’ has been confirmed; a trend consisting in subtracting instead of adding, simplifying instead of overstating. Of course, this does not necessarily translate into the supremacy of minimalism and understatement: transparencies, glitter, sexy cuts, surprising craftsmanship were abundantly featured on catwalks and in collections, but on the whole a desire for a new sobriety is in the air. In short, fewer coups de théâtre and more practicality, to spark the desire to touch fabrics, clothes, appreciate craftsmanship and details. The same thing applies to footwear; the classics of the manufacturing tradition are brought back into the spotlight: ballerinas, baby shoes, loafers, pumps and sandals, ranging from flats to high-heeled with a predilection for kitten heels, that is the heel size ensuring a smooth stride and more comfortable fit. Of course, the aesthetic of the designs is anything but plain or banal. The value and desirability of next season’s footwear are to be found in the materials – from the most exclusive and refined to  more rustic ones –  in the heels, often turned into small sculptures, or the platforms in natural materials, in the workmanship on the uppers that reveal the know-how of shoe companies and the handcrafted nature of the weaving and stitching, emphasising even imperfections since ‘flaws can often be beautiful and authentic’. Sneakers have not featured on catwalks for a couple of seasons, even though they are still the most popular among Gen Zers and continue to provide fertile ground for experimentation. However, research today has new horizons to explore, focusing on sustainability and attention to the environment – the two prerogatives behind any footwear design project today, not only sneakers. In other words, upcycled materials, naturally tanned leathers, hybrid shapes and patterns drawing inspiration from different worlds.

Flats: ballerinas, Mary Janes and loafers

For spring/summer 2024, we will see a rich plethora of flats designs in an unprecedented  number of variations. Pointy-toe ballerinas and soft slippers in supple leathers, mesh and raw materials, multi-buckle Mary Janes or with a bow (as for Versace), buckled sandals and loafers with either leather or chunky soles with or without tassels. The newest loafer is definitely the Gucci’s uniform maxi platform.

Heights: kitten, stiletto and platform heels

As for heels, kitten heels (Prada, Antonio Marras) are making a comeback, with its medium height and often slightly spooled: it is featured on sandals with micro straps, on mules and sabots. A chunkier version supports sandals with thin platforms. However, it is difficult to forego vertiginous heights for dress shoes and models designed for special events. Heels can become veritable sculptures: hence, pointed pumps and slingbacks in shimmering or reflective materials  or with vinyl uppers, also a must-have. Finally, there are mules with wedges and sandals with high platforms and chunky heels. If minimal shoes with clean designs were the most featured on catwalks, there was also an abundance of maxi flower decorations (Lanvin) and bows (Vuitton).

Straps: gladiator, laces, straps

Whether flat or high, shoes with laces and straps are still in designers’ and brands’ good graces: flat and knee-high gladiator shoes (Dior), models with corset lacing, sandals with minimal straps leaving the foot bare (Jil Sander), flip-flops with micro straps, knotted sandals, laces wrapped around the ankles (Bottega Veneta, Missoni) or thin metal anklets (Fendi).