If you’ve taken five seconds this week to tear your eyes away from the drama that is the Brangelina divorce, you may have noticed that their split isn’t the only bit of ugliness currently burning up the Internet.
Specifically I’m speaking of this. Or rather of these: A new fashion collaboration from two (ugly) footwear giants Teva and Ugg. The booties-slash-sandals-slash-abominable-eyesores have been out for just a few days and were almost immediately hailed as the ugliest shoe ever made. It’s true, they are seriously heinous—kind of like if Jabba the Hutt and that hairless mole rat had a baby…and then fashion designers asked us to wear that baby around on our feet.
But are they really the ugliest shoe of all time? Hard to say, given the competition.
A few days before the Teva x Ugg collection made its debut, Christopher Kane presented his spring ’17 collection in which every model wore bejeweled Crocs. Not clogs, or sandals “inspired by,” but actual Croc-brand Crocs—the same ones you’re used to seeing on medical staff and Mario Batali. Only these ones were embellished with gemstones that resembled glittery hunks of gum you might find under the table at a dive bar.
So the debate is on: which shoe deserves the “ugliest ever” title? It’s kind of like being presented with a “Who Would You Rather?” scenario where the choices are Mickey Rourke and, well, Mario Batali. Whatever your preference, the Ug-pocalypse is officially upon us.
When the ugly shoe trend first started a few summers ago with the mega resurgence of Birkenstocks—which went from granola to glam—even I’ll admit, it was a nice thing. A good thing even. After years of high heel tyranny, suddenly flats, sneakers and old-lady footwear were chic again, thanks to Normcore and the 90s renaissance. But somewhere between Celine’s furry sandals and this week’s WTF-inducing new additions, the jolie laide footwear trend seems to have jumped the shark.
In some ways, Carrie Bradshaw is to blame. The Sex and the City fashion plate turned owning Manolos into a female imperative, somewhere between oxygen and a good bikini waxer. The heels got higher, and more ankle-breaking, until finally the fashion pendulum swung the other way.
“When a trend goes so far in one direction, you start to crave something different,” says Toronto stylist and self-professed ugly shoe lover Susie Sheffman. “At first you think, ugh, I would never wear that, but when you see it on insiders, your eye starts to adjust and all of a sudden, everything else in your wardrobe seems stale.”
It explains how Victoria Beckham, a woman who not so long ago wore six-inch heels while seven months pregnant, has lately adopted a selection of sturdy sandals and sneakers. And how Gucci’s fur lined slides have become a street style status symbol despite looking like a grandfather’s hairy ear cavity.
But could the new bejeweled Crocs and Ugg-Tevas hybrid be the tipping point that sends the pendulum back in the other direction? “They’re hideous,” admits Sheffman of the later. “They look like a walking cast. Having said that, probably by tomorrow, I’ll be first on the waiting list.”