Just when you thought that fashion was done with rebirthing all things ’90s, another sweeping retro prodigy comes to the fore. Introducing the square toe: a trend that’s been quietly bubbling away while the super strappy, exaggeratedly pointy shoes of the decade have taken centre stage. That is, until spring/summer 2019, when a bevy of the biggest footwear names are resolutely championing its transformative power as the footwear trend of the season.
If this retro silhouette conjures memories of clunky, rubberised soles or block-heeled Mary-Janes, rest assured that the square toe’s uglier past belongs enshrined in the photo albums on your dusty bookshelf (alongside low-waisted jeans and boleros, that is.) In sleek single-soles, paired with barely-there straps (as seen on the runway at Saint Laurent and Rejina Pyo), they exude effortless style; worn with a flowing skirt and blazer, for example, they speak of daytime sophistication.
The now cult-status new names on the block are investing most heavily in the trend. At By Far, the square-toe takes on many guises, from simple slingback sophistication to more substantial satin mules. Neous has reimagined the best of the ’90s – single-strap heels, suede pumps and slingback sandals – in a collection of elegant spring shoes. Gucci, too, has incorporated the square toe into the label’s new-season offering, with a metal logo adored pair of chic leather mules. Valentino’s fringed leather pumps are an uptown interpretation, while Fendi’s neoprene court shoes are more directional with a sculptural heel and logo print.
But why square, you might ask, as opposed to round or pointed? Where the pointed toe can be much too elongating for many (though we’ll always defend its leg-lengthening power) and the humble round toe or almond shape can feel lacklustre in the statement-making arena, the square-toe strikes the perfect balance between fashion and functionality. The comfort factor stands firmly in its corner as a plus, but its allure is more transformative than tactful.
Among our favourite square toe moments in recent memory: Bella Hadid in wide-leg jeans, a vintage bag and buckled sandals, which would have been less notable minus the shoes. Elsa Hosk’s purple sequin gown paired with black strappy heels – an outfit that owed all it’s cool to the stubbed silhouette of her footwear. Cate Blanchett in a white suit and flat Sergio Rossi shoes, an all over classic look from the ankle up, save for the subtly cool shape of those mules.
If you’re yet to be convinced, then why not dip a toe in with Tibi’s tie-up sandals or Zimmermann’s heeled mules, featuring a gently rounded version of the footbed? Square-toe mania is now a thing, and you may kick yourself for not trying it sooner. For the early adopters of the trend? Perhaps it’s time to up your game with By Far’s out-and-out ’90s satin mules or Rejina Pyo’s strappy style complete with perspex heel. But act quickly – these in-demand styles are selling out fast. As they say, be there or be square.