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Shoes have replaced handbags as fashion big investment accessory The girls turn away, laughing at the absurdity of trying to describe shoes so complex in their fusion of materials and styles that they must be worth their designer price tag. Indeed, as has been widely observed, shoes are having a moment, replacing handbags as fashion s big investment accessory. But what a strange moment it is turning out to be. Strolling along Bloor Street s designer shoe corridor, it s clear there s something more than a little bit weird afoot. At Chanel, Kaiser Karl has come up with what appear to be the kind of wooden heeled orthopedic clogs worn by Slovakian waitresses, but with dressy patent straps. The classic Chanel flat has been reinterpreted in tie dyed denim and sandals are fashioned in shiny gold and silver. At Prada, men s espadrilles feature a classic rope heel between patent brogue uppers and rubber sport soles. Valentino has devised a peep toe platform stiletto wrapped in black lingerie like lace and Stuart Weitzman s built in platforms would not look out of place among the performers at For Your Eyes Only in glossy, construction site neon patent leather. For his part, Michael Kors has introduced a gladatorial take to a fringed Indian moccasin. As obviously uncomfortable as many of these statement pieces of footwear seem (and why is it, exactly, that the women of the 21st century, increasingly better educated than their male counterparts, and the chief breadwinners of their families, should be content to hobble through their busy day in strippers shoes?), they are also remarkably unsettling to look at. Why do the new shoes look so strange to us? I don t think it s because we ve never seen shoes ugg sales online like this before, but because we have in different ways. Take the classic loafer, for example. Typical to its classic slip on styling are features such as a strip of leather across the saddle or top of the foot, with either a tassel or a diamond cut out. Other traditional elements would be that it s made from undyed, natural or deep oxblood cordovan leather, and finished with a small wooden heel. But what cardy ugg boots we are seeing now is the footwear equivalent of a DJ s sampling: a "shoesion," if you will, in which recognizable elements from the past are tossed in the air and remixed. Hence, Louis Vuitton s wedge platform patent loafer. From a design perspective, it is a fusion of various traditional elements into something previously unimagined and therefore "new." Such fusion passed off as novelty is all around us from the music that makes the pop charts, to the way we decorate our homes (original period buildings gutted to reveal contemporary interiors; contemporary art with antique furniture). It s more fun to see scrambled eggs with kimchi than eggs benny on a brunch menu, and more exciting to have bacon flavoured ice cream (or anything inappropriately bacon flavoured for that matter) than vanilla. Our TV shows aren t just dramas but competitions, with real life winners and losers. We have become used to offbeat blends and brand extensions: Donald Trump perfume and Cindy Crawford sofas. The newest ideas seem increasingly like new ways of addressing the old ones, apps, if you will, that are less life changers than the latest marketing twist. It is tempting to draw conclusions from the way we design now, referencing the infinite archive and utilizing the cut ugg boots for babies and paste capabilities of computers. Certainly, fashion seems stuck in rewind, designers forever referencing past styles and eras and reinterpreting looks by, say, coming up with a bias cut evening dress with a 1930s silhouette but in African kente cloth. Can this be said to be truly groundbreaking design or just a fusion of disparate styles for a novel effect? What is certain is that now that we are living in it, the future doesn t look at all like we once imagined. Instead of being a radically different utopia, it s turning out to be more like everything we have seen before dropped into a mixmaster set on blend. The result, like the whacked out shoes, might indeed make for some remarkable combinations. But whether this shoesion ever emerges into anything approaching a coherent style remains to be seen.