It's an iconic silhouette— the single jelly strap on a platform slide heel. Over the past few years, it's become evident that the jelly sandal is a spring and summer mainstay of the early 2020s. From Gucci to Steve Madden to Jeffrey Campbell, many brands hopped on this trend. They're a quick and easy way to add a little playful fun into any outfit.
Given its name from the material's likeness to jelly, this PVC-based footwear style has been around since the 1980s. During this time, even major fashion houses like Dorothee Bis, Thierry Mugler, and Jean Paul Gaultier were designing jelly shoes.
These shoes were in collaboration with a brand called Grendha, which was owned by the parent company Grendene. Jelly shoes of this style were popular during the 1980s, but faded to the background as the more traditional jelly sandal silhouette began to take hold.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, a more basic style of the PVC sandal was all the rage. They were the perfect summer shoe— waterproof, comfortable, and they didn't wear and tear as easily as other sandals. This is the silhouette that we saw in the early 2020s, when the jelly sandal came back in style.
Upon its resurgence, the jelly sandal was criticized for looking like a "polly pocket shoe," but as the trend began to take hold once more, this criticism became the allure and intrigue that propelled these sandals to popularity. As summer of 2023 approaches, it comes time to ask the critical question: will jellies continue their reign as the go-to summer shoe?
The answer to this is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. Jellies may lose their prevalence as a summer shoe, but have instead evolved to be relevant in any season. These rubberized shoes have become increasingly popular in many other variants. They can be found as sneakers, ballet flats, mary janes, platform heels, and even cowboy boots. The jelly sandals we once knew has been reworked and reinvented into the multi-silhouette rubberized material we know today.
Back around the time of their creation, designer jellies were confined to either a flat or sandal silhouette. More recently, companies have taken more liberty with the designs they bring to the table. The brand Melissa is well known for their jelly shoes, as well as their designer collaborations. They have worked with Y Project, Collina Strada, Viktor & Rolf, UNDERCOVER, and more. These collaborations continuously draw new audiences in to the concept of jelly shoes, as well as expanding the range of silhouettes and aesthetics offered in jelly form.
In fact, the Jean Paul Gaultier and Mugler shoes from the 1980s were designed in collaboration with Melissa's parent company, as they are also a subsidiary of Grendene. Although this company has been expanding the offerings in the PVC shoe market since their inception, only recently have their jellies expanded into the territory of boots and more ornate styles.
Jellies are not just a summer shoe anymore— they transcend seasons, thanks to brands like Melissa. Since the growth in Melissa's popularity, we've seen other brands branch out and try jellies in other styles. These shoes even cover silhouettes that Melissa hasn't created yet. Jeffrey Campbell and Steve Madden's jelly cowboy boot, Loewe's jelly sneakers, and Larroude's jelly pumps are all examples of this.
Source: Entertainment Tonight
Another great aspect of jelly shoes is their sustainability. Some jelly shoes are entirely recyclable, so while they're less repairable than other shoes, they still do not have a negative environmental impact. As jellies continue to grow in popularity, they will inevitably become produced by more brands with sustainability in mind and hopefully become an environmentally friendly mainstay in the wardrobes of many.
Rubberized shoes have continued to gather traction as the years go by, and thanks to their sustainability and popularity, new styles and silhouettes continue appearing on shelves. What's your current favorite style of jelly shoe, and what type of shoe would you like to see in a jelly form next? Let us know @IssuedMagazine on socials!