The term “statement shoe” has its connotations. It can be thought of as a street-style thing, where influencers are vying for attention and trying to top each other’s look-at-me ensembles. It can be a red-carpet thing, with crystals and other exquisite embellishments underneath the couture gowns of actresses. It can be a fashion thing, when models venture out onto the runway in the most perilous and/or jaw-dropping of footwear.
But the most satisfying statement shoes are often the ones that live in a more quotidian way; the footwear that elicits a reaction from a non-fashion person in a non-fashion environment.
Such was the immediate experience I had upon trying Yuul Yie’s pumps. South Korean designer Sunyuul Yie may have been in the shoe game since 2010, but it’s only in the past few years that she has gained traction in the U.S. and Europe — which is why she was named one of FN’s Emerging Designers for 2018. Her quirky, artful creations are now sold at Nordstrom, Dover Street Market, Harvey Nichols, Shopbop, 10 Corso Como and Level Shoes in Dubai (to name just a few).
I received a pair of Yie’s “Y” heels in September, just as fashion month commenced. Done in matte olive leather with Yie’s signature “Y” heel (which she has attributed as her breakout style) in white leather, the pumps initially seemed a little plain, even quiet — the exact opposite of a statement shoe. They immediately felt like sleek gloves on my feet, though (no wearing in necessary), so I planned to give them a try as chic-but-discreet travel shoes for my flights and train rides through Europe.
It was in transit where the shoes caught the most attention. Whether it was catching the tube in London, standing on line for security for a flight from Milan to Paris, or walking to the office back in New York, I received constant questions and comments. “Wow, look at those shoes!” “Those are crazy!” and “Where did you find those!?” One man, a young 20-something in a Supreme tee, even stopped to ask me the brand name so he could take notes and buy a pair for his girlfriend.
The attention was well warranted. With a sculptural metal ball heel accent and a slightly asymmetrical slanted toe, the pumps have just enough oomph to make people look twice, but they are still casual enough to wear with jeans and a sweater. And while Yie’s Y-shaped heel is pretty cool, it’s the all-day sturdiness of the pumps that makes them truly complimentary.
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