Glove Shoes: The Surprise Hit of the Summer

This polarizing style is selling out.
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This polarizing style is selling out.

About a year ago, I received an email from Fashionista Senior Editor Dhani Mau with one word in the subject line: DILEMMA. She wrote:

I bought those Martiniano glove shoes and almost no one likes them. I think they're cool and have wanted them for a while but are they too weird? Should I return?

My response?

Keep! The future.

It may have not been a complete sentence, but Dhani got the gist. She kept her glove shoes, despite the naysayers who are used to revealing toe cleavage, not hiding it. And this summer, as I predicted, she’s not alone in her love of the high-cut flat, which also comes in a modest heel. I bought a taupe pair a couple of weeks ago.

Designer Martiniano Lopez Crozet, who introduced his made-in-Argentina version in 2011, appears to have coined the term "glove shoe." (Another fun fact: the designer, who is also one-half of performance art duo Los Super Elegantes, originally designed them for men.) Now, however, the phrase is being used to describe a category of slipper-like shoes, with interesting versions being released by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Rachel Comey and Phoebe Philo at Céline, who showed both flat and heeled styles on her spring 2015 runway. 

Martiniano's flat  starts at $395, while the heeled versions start at $515. They're available in colors favored by minimalists: navy, taupe, white, black, burgundy, etc., but also primaries and metallics. Maryam Nassir Zadeh's take — called the Roberta — comes in plenty of pretty and novel colors, including violet, wasabi and coral suede. This season, Rachel Comey introduced the Calder, a glove-like shoe with a short wooden heel that's available in white, black and silver. As for whether you can still get a hold of Philo's interpretation? You'll have to inquire your local Céline boutique. Regardless, there's lots of choice.

Unfortunately for those waiting to buy a pair on markdown, the prices on these shoes have not been slashed with everything else during the summer sales. And in many cases, most sizes are sold out. "They are almost our most popular style," says Nassir Zadeh, whose also owns a multi-brand store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. (There, she also carries Martiniano, which is repped in her showroom as well.) Nassir Zadeh's shoe and clothing line has developed quite the following among New York fashion's elite, and the Roberta glove shoe, which was introduced in the fall of 2014, is no exception. "They were popular immediately but I didn't produce many, so they always sold out and they weren't always readily available," she says. "For spring 2015 their popularity grew. I think after seeing images of them on our website and Instagram people began to take notice, so by the time they hit the store they sold out immediately."

Celine's spring 2015 glove shoe. Photo: Imaxtree

Celine's spring 2015 glove shoe. Photo: Imaxtree

Jade Lai, owner of multi-brand, bi-coastal store Creatures of Comfort and designer of its in-house label, isn't surprised by the success of the glove shoe. She was the first store to pick up Martiniano's version — for the spring 2012 season — and has seen success with it ever since. (In fact, it's currently sold out on Creaturesofcomfort.us.) "They have done well since the first season," says Lai, who found about the shoes through a friend she shares in common with Lopez Crozet. "They go well with most outfits, and have a very '90s minimalism, Calvin Klein look. Classic, simple, elegant."

Richmond, Va.-based retailer Need Supply has seen similar success with Martiniano's shoe. "We weren’t too early to pick up the line and I think there was already a good base of customers searching for it by the time we brought it in," says the store's fashion director, Krystle Kemp, who started carrying collection for the spring 2013 season. She is also currently sold out of all glove shoes. For fall, Need Supply will also carry the heeled version, which is new for the store. "It makes me think of Céline and Phoebe Philo, but accessible," Kemp says. "As well as the most awesome stylish grandma whose closet you raided."

For me, it's the mix of elegance and comfort that makes them the ultimate summer-into-fall shoe. "It helps that the shoes are very comfortable, and can be worn either dressy or casual," Nassir says. "The soft, flexible upper with a block heel is incredibly modern, while feeling like a familiar classic shape." 

Exactly. And yet, while there are many, many proponents of the glove shoe, it can still elicit violent responses from friends who think they represent granny chic gone too far. I fear that my friendship with former Fashionista editor Britt Aboutaleb might end over our disagreement around glove shoes, who quit responding to my Gchat messages last night after I told her I bought a pair. Okay, maybe I'm being a little over dramatic. But as Britt explained over email today in what feels almost like a poem:

You say you like granny stuff but that usually means The Row. 
There's ugly chic and then there's just ugly!
I thought you were joking...
I love you no matter how ugly your shoes are!!!
You love me because I'm always honest!

Expect to see a rebuttal over at Britt's current place of employment, Yahoo Style. Until then, all hail the glove shoe! I'm declaring it the must-have shoe of 2015. 

Homepage photo: Maryam Nassir Zadeh