Iconic shoes styles of the last century

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Research commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers reveals that the trainer and the stiletto are the most iconic shoe styles of the last century, according to UK Consumers.

Adidas is top brand of the last century for men and Dr Martens top brand for women and those over 35.

The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, one of the oldest London livery companies, dedicated to the support and growth of the UK footwear industry, today launched consumer research looking back at what UK consumers consider to be the most iconic styles and designers of the last century. The results showed that the top five styles of the last century are: the trainer, stiletto, platforms, brogues and the ankle boot. The top five brands/ designers are: Adidas, Dr Martens, Nike, Clarks and Christian Louboutin.

Penny Graham, the Clerk of the Cordwainers, commented: “The UK has led the way globally in footwear design for centuries and the country has over 900 years of experience in the manufacture of quality shoes and boots; so it is great to see British brands such as Clarks and Dr Martens making the most iconic list of the last century. We would love to see this UK heritage in shoe-making continue and urge those considering a career to look at shoe manufacturing and design.”

The research revealed that the British own an average of 12 pairs of shoes, with the average spend being £48, although a third spend over £50 pounds. Perhaps unsurprisingly, women own the most pairs of shoes, with an average of 15 versus men’s eight; almost a fifth of women own over 20 pairs. London, Nottingham and Sheffield are the homes of the Imelda Marcos of the UK, with almost one in five owning more than 20 pairs of shoes. Each year, Brits buy an average of two pairs of shoes, meaning that 115 million pairs of shoes are bought annually in the UK.

Looking to the future of footwear, Brits would like to see substance before style, with 55% favouring comfort and 40% hoping that shoes will last longer. Sustainability is a concern for 32% of consumers, while ethical production (22%) and innovation (21%) are also important. With longer lasting shoes being so important, it is no surprise to see that when owners are finished with shoes most (46%) give them to charity, while 44% throw them in the bin; clearly it is key for the industry to build shoes that are made to last.

“The results confirm what we already know to be true, that the UK footwear industry is a billion pound one. What is very interesting is what the future holds for design, with British consumers opting for comfort and shoes that are built to last over innovation – designers take note!” continued Penny Graham.

Respondents were also asked which fictional pair of shoes they would most like to own. The top three were: Marty McFly’s hover trainers in Back to the Future II, Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz and Forrest Gump’s Nike trainers.

The research of 2000 UK consumers was undertaken by Opinium Research and commissioned by the Cordwainers. In its 750th year, the company wanted to gain a picture of UK consumers thoughts on the footwear industry, looking at buying habits, as well as what the future holds.