The eternal dilemma of judging summer trends: are people dressing with fashion in mind, or simply to avoid dying of heatstroke? Neither jean shorts nor Birkenstocks are particularly fashionable per se, but they’ve become ubiquitous out of the necessity of comfort and ease so characteristic of dressing for hot climates.
But just because our instincts tell us to shed our clothes hardly means we are no longer susceptible to the folie Ã deux (shared madness) that is sometimes fashion. The ‘flatform’ is the strangest trend of summer 2012. A portmanteau of the words ‘flat’ and ‘platform,’ you guessed it, they boast a thick platform with no raised heel to speak of.
Their purpose is to provide elevation without sacrifice. To give added height to sensible flat-shoe wearers without the foot pain caused by stilettos. Yet, the strange shoe hybrid is not quite suitable for high-heel lovers or flat-shoe disciples, as it tries a little too hard to appeal to both. The flatform is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
They first appeared on the runways of Derek Lam, Marc Jacobs and Chanel. Now the flatform is available for sale at most major retailers. A quick jaunt down trendy Queen West offers a world of flatform options to suit your needs (or strange desires).
Hipster emporium Urban Outfitters (481 Queen St. W.) offers a number of different flatforms. There are simple faux-espadrille sandals with brown leather straps. Another pair of black flatform sandals has rainbow braiding glued to the platform, unquestionably the perfect flatform for hippie goddesses who need something other than Birkenstocks to wear with their jersey maxi dresses. The strangest item is a pair of black studded sandals with a metallic platform that look like they were ripped straight off the set of Lady Gaga’s music video for “Telephone.” (Deena & Ozzy, $69)
Joe Fresh (589 Queen St. W.), purveyor of cheap basics and cheap-looking fashion garments has got you covered in the flatform department. They offer a similar brown pleather espadrille flatform to Urban Outfitters that appear to be of lesser quality (who knew?). The unmalleable synthetic straps look like a blister factory, which makes me shudder in pain. At least they’re on sale for $29.94.
Joe also offers an additional style of flatform, this one made out of actual cowhide. This all-white version is much sleeker, and could be considered ‘clinical’ if all hospital nurses wore Céline. Also on sale for $29.94.
Scarpino (694 Queen St. W.) retails a delightful array of comfortable-yet-stylish clunkers to be worn by hip art teachers and groovy aunts. Your best bet in the flatform department is the colourful leather peep toe sandal with rugged soles reminiscent of Alaia ‘hiking boots,’ or perhaps just real hiking boots. The brand is Fly London, which bill themselves as the “universal brand of youth culture,” but look like they would attract a slightly older audience. It’s important to note that these may technically fit into the ‘wedges’ category since the heel is slightly higher than the toe– but the platform is thick enough to pass for a flatform if you were ever to be stopped by the fashion police.
Heel Boy (773 Queen St. W.) sells the classiest (and no doubt most expensive) flatforms by Gentle Souls for $240. The leather is buttery, the footbed is cushy and the heel is about as architectural as you can get away with two inches of height. These flatforms give you the most bang for your buck, but also beg the question: how much money do you really want to spend fulfilling a fashion trend?
Isabel Slone is a Toronto-based fashion blogger and writer. Follow her on Twitter at @isabelslone.