Return of the clog
Whilst described as one of the shoes “women love to hate”, the humble clog is making something of a comeback. With Saint Laurent, Chanel and Isabel Marant all including them in their collections this year, and Prada having recently sent its models down the runway wearing clogs, their place as a key piece has been signalled as a marker for 70s-inspired looks characterising summer bohemian style.
Clogs were originally made from wood, and although their appearance has varied across cultures, their basic function has remained the same. In its definition of “clog”, the Oxford English Dictionary describes the shoe as a “thick piece of wood”, a “wooden soled overshoe” and a “shoe with a thick wooden sole”. Examples of clogs can be seen in historical demonstrations at the V&A museum from Scandinavia and Europe, Asia, China and Japan. Traditional European clogs were largely intended as protective footwear worn by farmers or workers in factories or mines; hence the thick, protective toe covering in their styles. More elaborate and intricately decorated versions are seen in Asian culture, and often associated with Geishas.
Like many elements of fashion, the popularity of clogs has been cyclic, waxing and waning. They made their first modern appearance as fashion items for men and women in the 70s and 80s, developed from Swedish designs. In the later 80s and 90s, clogs returned once more, with added height from a platform sole. Viktor and Rolf showcased Dutch clogs in their 2007 autumn/winter collection. Clogs’ enduring appeal was seen in 2010 when they again were hailed as making a serious fashion comeback thanks to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Kate Moss was spotted in London at the end of last month wearing a pair of chic black leather clogs paired with simple skinny jeans in a dressed-down outfit – as is expected, Kate’s seal of approval is bound to have an impact on securing clogs as a must-have for summer.
River Island is one of the many high street and online retailers embracing the clog, echoing 70s trends seen predominantly across womenswear collections. Topshop, Clarks and others have all provided their own take on this iconic design. Whether comfort and practicality (see Birkenstock), or something more glamorous, there’s a wide range of designs available.