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You Need This... I Promise

The Collectible Classics

a mountain of buckles

a mountain of buckles

 

I love the excitement of an "it moment" – if you have been in fashion long enough, you absolutely know whatever that thing is at any given time. But you also know that if IT is really IT – IT will not be IT for long. It's fun, but it's quick, and the crazy thing is that even when you know the short life cycle… you still want IT. You can't help yourself… and that is exciting. It kind of sums up fashion. By definition, a trend isn't a trend unless it is temporary.

And shoes make a really good IT item. They usually don't require a particular body type or lifestyle to pull off – they can be worn more frequently than a piece of clothing – and they can define a moment in a big way. Who doesn't remember the fur-lined Princetown loafers from Gucci a few years ago? I am sure they were a tactile delight to slide on your feet, but they have moved to the back corner of the shoe closet for a lot of those early-adopter fashion people. Trailblazers. They will emerge again at some point, and might even hold their value on eBay, but I'm willing to bet that you're wearing the plainer, unlined mules more often than the furry ones these days. That is usually how it works. The really showstopping IT thing of the season paves the way for the more subtle variations for years to come. I am not a first-out-of-the-gate girl when it comes to fashion – I didn't have a pair of the furry loafers. But I do love something new and fresh.

And so I tend to go for the things that are both timeless and timely. (I nicked this phrase from my friend Jane Pendry, who is the fantastic designer behind Dovima. Her resume before starting her own line reads like a dream: YSL, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley… if anyone would know how to balance the classic with the current, it is her.) It has stuck in my head because I think it describes a lot of what we do as well… much of it is classic but there is a bit of extra ITness in the mix to make it all feel special. But it can be a tricky intersection. We all want to feel and look modern, but we want to look like ourselves every year. Not the 1994 Ann or the 2020 Ann. Just Ann. I think about this all the time when we are developing the line each season because making women feel like themselves is really important to me. We are in the business of not just creating the line, but SELLING it. So I would never tell someone that she doesn't need something new – but I feel better when the new doesn't turn into the old too quickly.

So this is where I tell you that the Buckle Shoe might be the best embodiment of timely and timeless. I have chatted it up in a previous post in February 2019… back then I wrote about the shoe itself, the chic-yet-actually-sort-of-freaky movie inspiration, and how ours spun off into its own, decidedly more casual thing. But this time I want to communicate the joy of treating yourself to something you love and will USE – time and time and time again. Collecting something that you wear 8 hours a day – every few days if you're me – is not frivolous or excessive.

 

my own closet pro tip is that if they are in boxes, I won't wear them
my own closet pro tip is that if they are in boxes, I won't wear them

 

And you can buy them in multiples because they all do slightly different things. The navy or black or slate grey as a chic "understater." The bright green or red to kick up your jeans and white t-shirt. The blue leopard just because. If you are a seasoned collector of these, you may not be able to live without the seaglass color… I am going for those myself. We do the neutrals year round but the novelties are like collectors' items and once they're gone they're gone. I wish there were a baseball-card-ish trading market for these - there is an electric blue suede from 2015 that I routinely kick myself for not buying. If you've got a size 36, I'll trade you a 2020 tweed – let me know.

I have others to barter with because there are 14 pairs in my closet. Before you roll your eyes – remember that we have been making this shoe continuously since 2013. (I told you, timeless.) That works out to be two pairs a year, which doesn't feel so crazy after all, especially when I wear them so often. But getting defensive about this is actually the OPPOSITE of the point I am trying to make. It is a joy to figure out what works for you – and even more of a joy when you can find ways of making those standbys feel new. Last week was DMing on Instagram with a customer who identified as a "devoted collector" of these. It got even better when she added "just because it's a plague doesn't mean you don't need beautiful and comfortable shoes that brighten up the day." It was the very best thing to read.

I had an image in my head from a closet story ripped from a magazine in the early 90s, I think. There is no date on the page that I miraculously found in one of my piles (it did not exist on Google… I searched for over an hour!) I think it was from the now-defunct HG in a profile of Carlyn Cerf de Dudzeele. We got to peek into what looks to be her not-so-huge Upper East Side NYC closet, loaded up with cashmere shawls and Chanel flats. The best part is that the shoes are not at all pristine. You can see that they are enjoyed and loved and WORN. The fact that they aren't even in boxes, just on the floor, is a testament to their daily use. It is fun to remember the Pre-Instagram, thrill of viewing someone's personal space and closet.

 

the tear I saved of CCdD's closet
the tear I saved of CCdD's closet

So that is my hope for the buckle shoe. I would love to have a look into a woman's closet and see a pair or two or 8 of them, the insoles darkened by wear and the sides caving in a little. Worn and loved. The suede might have some spots from a night you came home late and didn't change before cooking dinner and accidentally splattering a little grease. The oh &!#% becomes a happy memory of getting through a season of hurry. I have a pair of Barbara Shaum sandals with Sharpie on them, courtesy of my now-19-year-old when she was 4. I love them so much. I was furious at the time but now they are even dearer to me with the indelible, universal black symbol of toddlerhood. One of my oldest, most beat-up pairs still has a buckle adhered with chewing gum. No joke – I was on a trip and didn't have time for a real repair. (Earliest production run… now all the buckles are sewn on.) They are a petrol blue suede with a little heel, and I still love them to bits.

After all these years, even if they don't fit the definition of an IT shoe… the Buckle Shoes are still IT for me. Timeless and timely, with just a little of that irresistibility that makes IT so fun.

From Ann

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