If I look at the past ten years that I’ve worked at Barneys, almost every shoe I have purchased has been a flat. Even when I indulge in a beautiful pair of heels, they stay eternally pristine—a result of their existence spent undisturbed in a box—unlike the warriors of footwear and my undisputed shoe of choice, the oxford.
What started as a function thing for me has become an integral part of my style. I’ve always been drawn to men’s-inspired styles, whether they be loafers, oxfords, or sneakers. I like the attitude that comes with a beautifully designed flat: smart, poised, strong, and trend-transcending.
It wasn’t always easy to find these men’s styles, though, and new shoe designs and talents turning out flats beyond the ballet slipper is something I’ve enjoyed seeking out for Barneys. Take, for example, Esquivel: We were really drawn to the artisanal quality of George Esquivel’s work, and while his women’s shoes have a traditional menswear structure, there’s still a feminine quality about them. At the other end of the spectrum, Manolo Blahnik, known for its iconic BB pump, has become one of my favorite go-to collections for a beautiful men’s-inspired shoe. The brand’s oxfords and loafers—many of which are exclusive to us—have a most refined finish that is true Manolo Blahnik style.
This spring, I’ll be adding a few new styles to my classic shoe wardrobe of oxfords, loafers, and sneakers. Martiniano’s glove shoe is incredibly comfortable and has the softest leather—it’s esoteric in design—not for everyone, but I love it. Gianvito Rossi’s lace-up gladiator is feminine, fun, and pairs well with jeans and summer cocktail dresses. And the Clergerie loafer slides, well, those I already have but I’m picking up a second pair in navy. A slide is perfect for the summer because it’s light and airy, but many are still covered enough to wear to work. Plus, you can slip them on and go. I suppose that speaks to my pattern of efficiency.
The notion that when I’m wearing heels I feel that I simply cannot get to the other side of a room as quickly as I would in flats is pretty telling of my character. I’m always going to be someone who likes to ride the subway because it’s efficient. That goes double for when that subway may be in a foreign city, like when I’m visiting my family in Tokyo, and even more so for work if I’m running around between appointments and meetings. When I’m traveling through Europe in March, I’ll never have to worry about sandals in the rain, if I’m running late, dodging the crowds trying to escape a fashion show—my shoes won’t slow me down. With just one key pair of flats in the suitcase, say a pair of Manolo oxfords, every outfit is elevated, every look polished, and my carry-on is lighter.
This may be hyperbole, but I strongly feel life is lot easier when you’re wearing flats. And I fully understand that someone else may say all the same things about heels! -Tomoko Ogura