@crimesagainstshoemanity collects shoes so bad they need trigger warnings
Caution: contains Tide Pod Nikes and bean-filled Crocs.
When Balenciaga unleashed its Triple S trainer in September, the internet wasted no time in comparing the distressed $850 sneaker to a shoe plucked from an elementary school “lost property” bin. Fast-forward to 2018, and every sneakerhead on the planet wants to cop a scuffed-up slice of dad style. (Even the normally glitzy Tracee Ellis Ross has been spotted in a pair.) Raf Simons’s iconic Ozweego has been making ugly shoe babies with Adidas for years, and our collective, continuous thirst for questionable footwear isn’t limited to sneakers. Rick Owens is bringing fashion’s long-beloved Birkenstock into 2018, while Jeremy Scott is doing everything in his power to bring back Uggs.
"Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer," Miuccia Prada said in a much-quoted 2013 interview with T magazine. But even Ms. Prada might be taken aback by our favorite collector of fashion’s biggest footwear atrocities: the Instagram account @crimesagainstshoemanity. The stomach-churching feed ranges from design crimes — including denim pool slides, hairy stilettos, and kitten heel running shoes — to styling faux pas that warrant trigger warnings. For example: a Croc filled to the brim with baked beans, a clear Jelly sandal paired with a see-through pencil case, and anything involving the dreaded high heel “toeverhang.” It’s disgusting, and disgustingly relevant: someone had to make Nike Shox out of Tide pods.
We asked the mastermind of @crimesagainsthumanity about the enduring appeal of ugly, and the footwear felonies we might encounter as we head into fashion month.
What inspired you to create an account sharing ugly shoes with the world?
I get a physical reaction when I see an ugly shoe. It's almost primal, I feel it internally. Clearly I'm not alone in this and it's good to share this feeling.
Why do we find ugly “beauty” so appealing?
I probably wouldn't use the word “beauty,” but it could have something to do with seeing something genuinely different. We are so used to being force-fed what "looks good" and what's "trending" through media even though ugly is trending right now, I guess. Maybe it feels good or feels like an alternative to see something that provokes a reaction, even if it’s a negative reaction.
What is your favorite crime against shoemanity from fashion history?
I don't really need to look back at history to find some favorites. It's only three weeks into 2018 and I've already seen some really intense stuff, including Rick Owens’s goth Birkenstocks and Vetements ripping off the iconic Maison Margiela Tabi boot. Historically speaking? Uggs. Uggs are for wearing inside or outside, but close to your home only. The fact that people wear these out and about is the most heinous act of all. Those Y/Project thigh-high Uggs — please restrain me.
Shoes that draw attention to toes provoke a very visceral reaction in me. When it comes to shoes, are you pro-toe or against?
I'm pleased that you also feel this way. Every time I see a person wearing those toe shoes I think, "what happened in your life that made you okay with this?” To be fair, I have no idea about their apparent orthopedic properties so maybe they help people, but surely there must be something else you can wear? I'm definitely not anti-toe but there is something weird about seeing them like that in a shoe. It's like hand-feet or something. Like a foot-glove. Why is it gross? I'm not sure.
Many ugly shoes from past seasons have sacrificed function for form, like the McQueen Armadillo that you recently featured an electrical tape version of. Why do you think fashion is starting to favor shoes that are ugly in this borderline-orthopedic way?
I think we will continue to wear shoes that hurt. I would wear those McQueen heels even if I couldn't walk properly for days afterwards. I can, however, highly recommend having bespoke shoes made for you. I have a few pairs made for me by London shoemaker Kira Goodey, and they are both stunning and comfortable.
Why are fusion shoes — like sneaker heels, denim sandals, or cowboy roller skates — particularly offensive?
Cowboy roller skates sounds awesome. I would definitely wear cowboy roller skates. On paper these things don't seem so bad, but the execution is usually the issue. Just because you're using denim doesn't mean you have to use all the denim. And why is there always the addition of a tiny kitten heel? Please stop.
What are your top five shoe predictions for 2018?
In addition to my toe-shoe prediction for Balenciaga, I feel like there will be a reprisal of some sweaty clear plastic sneaker/heel/boot à la Yeezy season three. I see a shoe where the front end is clear so you can see all five toes. Perhaps a deformed pool slide with a platform like those Balenciaga Crocs, and some more "comedy" heels. I see a Starbucks coffee cup as a heel. And the coffee cup also looks like it came out of the trash. I'm going to save the rest for Instagram. ;)