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Brought to heel

Updated: 2023-12-22 08:13 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Women in Shanghai opt for comfortable footwear like sneakers. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In one post titled "Are Chinese girls abandoning high heels?" on Zhihu, which is similar to Quora, the most-liked comment is one that reads: "I have ownership of my body, and I want to make myself comfortable."

Companies have seemingly responded to this growing trend. Fashion labels, for example, have all been rolling out fancy flats and sending models down the runway wearing them. The Loop Bouquet pointed-toe flat was among Prada's Fall Winter 2023 collection, while Patos pointed leather flats were featured in Tory Burch's Fall 2023 show.

High-end designer brands have also been increasingly embracing streetwear, seeing many have introduced their own sports footwear collections. A 2018 Reuters report stated that luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Balenciaga have been looking to sneakers for growth.

Even brands that are known for their heels have gone the same route. Christian Louboutin and Roger Vivier, for example, have, in recent years, rolled out their own sneakers to tap the growing demand.

But it's probably safe to say that heels won't quite fade into oblivion just yet.

"People in fashion-related industries, and those with strict dress codes, are still required to have high heels," Xu says.

"Consumers are still willing to shell out cash for the elegance and formality of those shoes, particularly for special occasions like weddings and grand parties," she adds. "As shoe designers are aware of consumers' growing concerns about comfort and making adjustments, it is hard to say that high heels have a bleak future."

Chen Ying, who works for a beauty conglomerate, echoed this sentiment.

"I still wear heels when attending meetings with clients. I also wear them when I go on dates," she says.

"Even though I don't wear heels very often anymore, I don't think I will ever stop buying them because they allow me to fulfill my 'princess fantasies'."

Zheng Zheng contributed to this story.

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