Keep it simple

At this season's runways, fashion seemed to press pause on its obsession with maximalism – right down to our shoes. Here, we explore why these pared-back styles are setting the footwear agenda and how brands such as NEOUS are helping us put our best, impeccably understated, foot forward.

Shop all shoes   Shop sandals

So how has the minimalist mindset evolved in the lead up to the new decade? Well, let’s first cast our minds back to the ‘90s, when minimal was the word on everyone’s lips, strappy sandals were the footwear of choice and our obsession over Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was just beginning. Then, more recently, ‘Expert Tidier’ (yes, that’s a thing) and Netflix sensation Marie Kondo won hearts with her mantra of ‘living a life that sparks joy’ by decluttering in order to boost happiness. Then came ‘Niksen’, the Dutch wellness concept meaning, literally, ‘to be idle or doing nothing’, designed as an antidote to our increasingly busy lifestyles (and an influence on the popularity of luxury slippers, perhaps?).

ROSETTA GETTY SANDALS
Rosetta Getty – flat sandal

Now in the 2020s, we’re seeing a true cultural shift towards slowing down and scaling back in order to forge something more meaningful, and all against a backdrop of ever-growing concern for our planet, a falling out of love with excessive consumption and – more recently – the uncertain times we now find ourselves in.

BY FAR TANYA SNAKESKIN PRINT HEELED MULES
By Far – Tanya snake print mules

And designers are listening. The story told by every well-manicured foot at Fashion Week? That there’s now a clear and refreshing focus on simple and practical footwear – without shying away from luxury or appeal. Towering heels make way for more modest block heels and flats, and unnecessary detail is replaced by sleek straps.


 

The minimal shoe trend speaks to the overwhelming infusion of pared-back 90s simplicity on the SS20 runways.

– Molly Donovan, Lead Womenswear Stylist

BOTTEGA VENETA POINTED TOE LEATHER BALLET FLATS
Bottega Veneta – pointed ballet flats

The name given by British Vogue to “New Bottega’s” Daniel Lee, “Quiet Radical”, is the perfect expression of this zeitgeist: quietly confident, beautiful and wearable pieces that stand for luxury without excess. Case in point: Lee’s reimagined, grown-up ballet flats that shed their former signature bow in favour of a leaner silhouette with pointed square toes, proving that maximalism isn’t the only way to tell a story – sometimes, the best materials, a keen eye for design and respect for craftsmanship are all you need.

Meet NEOUS

And, then, there’s NEOUS. Another brand at the frontline of minimalist footwear, its much-coveted styles are created by former Harper’s Bazaar Stylist, Vanissa Antonious. We spoke to Antonious about the story behind the brand and her love of minimalism.

How did NEOUS come about?
I spent a lot of time in the marketplace in my job at Harper’s Bazaar and really wanted to create a product with a unique, minimalist design aesthetic, made in Italy and using the highest-quality leathers at an accessible price point, which, at that time, didn’t really exist.

What’s your mission for the brand?
In a world of fast fashion, we design our shoes to transcend trends. We want NEOUS to embody timeless, carefully considered and crafted footwear that is designed to last. Our collections are minimalist, pared-back and considered.

Who inspires your designs?
Friends, travel, art, culture… and I’m always drawing inspiration from the radical design principles of the Bauhaus school.

How did NEOUS come about?
I spent a lot of time in the marketplace in my job at Harper’s Bazaar and really wanted to create a product with a unique, minimalist design aesthetic, made in Italy and using the highest-quality leathers at an accessible price point, which, at that time, didn’t really exist.

What’s your mission for the brand?
In a world of fast fashion, we design our shoes to transcend trends. We want NEOUS to embody timeless, carefully considered and crafted footwear that is designed to last. Our collections are minimalist, pared-back and considered.

Who inspires your designs?
Friends, travel, art, culture… and I’m always drawing inspiration from the radical design principles of the Bauhaus school.

NEOUS honours restraint and integrity in design and production, and I often lean on Mies van der Rohe’s philosophy of ‘less is more’.

What’s different about NEOUS shoes? 
I think it’s the continuous exploration between material and form. For SS20, this can be seen in the ripple and fold of the soft Nappa leather used in our PHINIA ballerina flats or the signature wood and resin sphere heel of our LODA mule and ORCHIS pump. Comfort, wearability and durability are also at the forefront of everything we make.

What would people be surprised to know about your shoes?
I’ve always valued minimalism as it makes for such a versatile wardrobe that stands the test of time.


 

Minimalism shouldn’t be mistaken for minimal. Our products are far from minimal, such attention to detail is taken during every step of the process to ensure the fluidity of our designs.

– NEOUS Founder Vanissa Antonious

Our guide to SS20's top shoes

Want more? Dip your toe into our guide to this season's favourite footwear.

Read & shop

Powered By OneLink