In search of high fashion footwear

A pair of " Saint Larent Paris (SLP)" boots.

A pair of ” Saint Larent Paris (SLP)” boots.

Matthew McFee is a UBC student who loves to fallow fashion and collect limited editions of clothing as well as footwear. In an interviews, he points out the differences between designer footwear that he orders from foreign countries and athletic sneakers sold at local retail stores. He also comments on one of the newest and most popular shoes on the market right now, the Adidas Yeezy Boost, designed by Kanye west.

Q: How do you feel about higher fashion footwear compared to athletic footwear?

McFee: I feel there is a lot more going on design-wise when it comes to higher end footwear. With athletic footwear, the designs are a lot more subdued and I guess practical. But really, the two are very intimately connected. If you look at someone like Rick Owens, his footwear is directly influenced by Nike footwear. I think athletic footwear is very practical, it’s what regular people wear. Designers draw from the everyday and innovate. They take something from the world they live in and really make it their own. It goes from a pair of shoes to a piece of art.

Q: When buying footwear for yourself, do you pay attention to the performance aspect of the shoe or the style?

McFee: When buying designer footwear I usually just focus on style. However, if I try the shoe or boot on and it just doesn’t feel comfortable, I’ll pass on it. I do try to be pretty reasonable though when it comes to designer footwear. I try to avoid really giant heels like on some the Saint Laurent Paris boots. But even then I’m tempted to buy something crazy and impractical just because it’s so in your face. I stuff like my SLP boots and Rick Owens Ramones, but I have just as many pairs of Doc Martens boots and shoes because they are just so durable and versatile.

Q: What brands do you follow in terms of footwear?

a pair of "Rick Owens" designer sneakers

a pair of “Rick Owens” designer sneakers


a pair of “Rick Owens” designer sneakers

McFee: As far as designer footwear, I usually follow Rick Owens. I think his sneakers are really interesting, and can be played around with in outfits in a lot of different ways. He releases the same staples every year (Geobaskets, Ramones etc.) but he has been doing some cool stuff with Adidas lately like his tech runners. They’re really bold, and it’s interesting to see if people can pull them off with some sublety. I’ve also been really into Saint Laurent Paris boots lately. The designs are really outrageous and sexy. Tons of pointy toes, big heels, shiny leather and its pure sex. Guidi leather footwear is also getting really big in the more avant garde fashion scene. I have friends who have been wearing Guidi boots for years but it seems like now there has been a huge influx of new guys in designer fashion buying them. I think they’ll be getting a lot more exposure now. I always follow Doc Martens collaborations with other designers. They’ve done stuff with Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons, and now Supreme.


A pair of Kanye West’s latest sneaker he designed for Adidas called “Yeezy Boost 350”

Q: Kanye West is trying to make his mark in the fashion industry. In your opinion, are his new Yeezy Boost shoes considered part of higher fashion? Why or why not?

McFee: It’s difficult to say if they are really high fashion sneakers and not something like Air Jordans. He’s marketing his gear as designer, he’s trying to present himself as a designer, but I feel his work is too derivative. His footwear just hasn’t reached that level of separation I need. They aren’t at the next level, I don’t think. I don’t see them as art.

Q: The Kanye West sneakers have been re-sold for upwards of $1,000 for a pair. Do you think they are worth that much?

McFee: No, I don’t really think any of his designs are worth it. His work so far has been really derivative. It’s really obvious his designs are influenced by Helmut Lang’s collections from the ’90s and early 2000s and Raf Simons’ collections such as Summa Cum Laude. He directly copied Helmut Lang’s bulletproof vests from the late ’90s. I just can’t justify paying $1,000 for a Yeezy garment when I can easily buy an archival Raf Simons jacket or something from Haider Ackermann for a similar price point. I think there are people doing what Kanye is trying to do a lot better than he is. For me to respect his designs he needs to do something more innovative.

McFee continues to search for his favorite brands of designer footwear to add to his personal collection. he uses websites such as to buy, sell, and trade with others all around the world also interested in designer footwear and clothing.

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