I have clogs on the brain today. The New York Times ran a short piece on the most enviable examples for winter, suggesting you style them with a skirt and tights or heavy socks. But I’m not thinking of the coveted footwear because I’m dreaming of some Phillip Lim creation or can’t walk past an Urban Outfitters without seeing them everywhere, but because I hate clogs. I think clogs are unforgivably ugly.
It all started, of course, with Chanel’s Spring 2010 ready-to-wear show, in which Freja Beha and Lara Stone paraded down the hay-strewn runway looking like barnyard ballerinas. At first I figured, ha, funny joke, Karl, you really pulled a fast one on us, that’s so arch of you, so self-aware, to send a self-consciously ugly fashion punchline like the clog down the runway on the heels of beautiful girls in rich tweeds. Well, I didn’t actually think that because nobody actually thinks like that, but I digress.
So, yeah, I thought it was a funny joke. Like Herme’s riding crops of Gaultier cigarette holders: a splashy, attention-grabbing accessory you see on the runway that appears in a few arty editorials, but no one would actually use/buy/wear such a thing (strangely, I do not include McQueen’s armadillo shoe in this camp). But then…
I saw paparazzi pictures of fashion-forward types and It Girls like Alexa Chung donning the leather clunkers. I read that Rachel Bilson is “buying clogs [for Spring]. You know, like, the new updated versions.” And then, most shocking of all, I started seeing them everywhere. And now, a year later, I still see them everywhere. This astonishes me, because at most I figured clogs might infiltrate the wardrobes of a certain type of fashionista–Bilson, certainly, maybe Kirsten Dunst or Zooey Deschenal. But now I see them on the subway, paired with tights, under boyfriend jeans, on hipster girls and fancy older ladies alike.
Part of me suspects the clog’s widespread embrace is quite simple: comfort. Is it possible the clog’s sudden appearance in store displays was met with immediate and loving approval because they are easy on the feet compared to fashion’s typical It Shoes? I hope that isn’t the case because, oh, so are these. It can’t just be comfort, because setting aside the typical Crocs-crowd, I’m seeing clogs everywhere and more often than not on quite fashionable women. But where is the visual appeal?
I just can’t get past the way they look. I have it in for chunky heels because I don’t want anything I wear to be described as chunky. The broad swath of leather doesn’t do my already size 9.5 feet any favors, so maybe I just need a smaller pair of those. And that heavy wooden base seems so blunt and unfeminine. So what am I missing? Is it a matter of context? Did Lagerfeld change everything when he took a shoe commonly considered the domain of gardeners, milkmaids and hippie moms and made it “fashion”? Are clogs actually cutting edge and witty? Moreover, are they here to stay?
If it is just a matter of context, then I’m stuck behind the times thinking the only place clogs belong is in a tulip field under a windmill (and even then, barely). But if a piece’s appeal is just about its current, sudden new context, doesn’t that make its eventual obsolescence all the more certain? If they’re everywhere right now because women saw them everywhere and so it felt safe to don the previously shunned shoe, isn’t the shift against clogs going to be just as abrupt? Though I guess that’s the nature of trends.