The International Shoe Fair GDS, to be staged from September 18-21, 2003, in Düsseldorf, promises to be a ‘colourful’ affair, as anyone who wants to be ‘in’ next summer will be wearing brightly coloured shoes. Whether on sandalettes or sneakers, bold colours are back. From apple green to tangerine, one-tone or multicoloured, anything goes – if you like it and it puts a spring in your step, go for it! Footwear fashion should be fun.

That’s the top trend for spring/summer 2004 in a nutshell. Otherwise, neither men nor women are in for any big surprises. Designers are sticking to the tried-and-tested and will once again air lots of open shoes. Clogs, mules, pumps and flip-flops reveal the maximum amount of skin. Feet bear all, and a pedicure is a must.

Sports shoes are also familiar faces but in a more modern guise. Although declared dead time and again, sneakers and sport shoes just keep on topping the shoe charts and the experts even predict a record-breaking year is on its way. Sport defines our zeitgeist. Jogging in the morning is a matter of good form and visits to the health club are socially de rigeur. ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ – a sound mind in a sound body. And taking this one step further is the idea that sport is synonymous with success. Those whose bodies are perhaps not the picture of athleticism can turn to clothing as a sign of belonging, because where sport goes, fashion soon follows: be it walking, jogging, parachuting or trekking. Girls, boys, men and women will combine sneakers, sports sandals and boxer boots with cargo pants, leggings, bermudas or tennis skirts. And in the evenings, high heels add sex appeal.

Counterbalancing the illustrious sporty style is a gaudy fantasy look. The recipe for fantasy fun calls for a pinch of Hawaii with flower-bearing flip-flops, a sprinkling of Asia-look with lace-up plaited sandals and a touch of glitzy Hollywood with glossy red platform sandals. And don’t forget to season well with retro pickings from the punky eighties – sandals with high block heels finished with broad ankle straps, rivets and eyelets.

Of course, there are also offerings that are not quite as loud – shoes for business. Here the mood is filigreed and elegant. But don’t get the wrong idea – ladylike and conservative is a no-no. Pumps, clogs or mules featuring slender, mainly pointed or square forms with slightly curved heels will dominate the office environment. Nothing heavy and nothing clumpy should distract from the delicate summer look. Small bows, dainty buckles or fine stitching underscore the refined style that embraces soft, sandy or watery shades in particular. A leading look is the combination of black and white.

Unobtrusiveness and elegance are the watchwords also for men. Soft shoes complete the casual summer suit. Whether with pointed, square or rounded lasts; slip-ons or lace-ups, manufacturers are increasingly selecting super-soft (and therefore more expensive) leathers and light, flexible soles. Great looking and comfortable to boot. The fashionable business shoe for men is stepping out in harmonious browns and earth tones.

Overview of the top trends


Green is the colour of hope and brazen apple green is the absolute favourite. From orange to turquoise and pink through to blue, colour is leading this fashion’s parade. And it is not just sporty feet that will be looking on the brighter side next summer. Open shoes will also be characterised by the rainbow look. All shades are equal – whether muted, flashy or neon. The must-have of the season is a combination of white and a colour.


The new sneaker on the streets will be two-tone. White is the basic colour that sets off powerful shades – red, yellow, green, blue or timeless black. Materials are also mixed and matched – high-tech materials with canvas, or leather with mesh. Sporty lasts have moved away from broad and bulky shapes to longer oval forms. Sneakers are sporting intricate details: punchings, various stripes, geometric or ornamental patterns, bands of rivets and rhinestones, metal decorations or eyelets.

The season’s hottest offering: high-heeled sneakers sneakers on heels or with fashionable ankle straps.


The new footwear fashions revel in decoration: giant enamelled ovals, sparkly semi-precious stones or rhinestones; tiny mother-of-pearl or silver plates, rivets, eyelets, rings or zips, leather with embellishments or cut-outs, floral, vamp or animal appliqués. Designers have left no source untapped in ornamenting shoes in line with the various trends – starfish cut-outs for the fantasy look and delicate buckles for smart business pumps.

High shine

Let it shine! Alongside soft nappa leather, specially treated patent, metallic and perlato leathers will grace en vogue shop shelves. High-tech textiles with a metallic sheen will have many more eyes lighting up than just those of the sporty crowd. Designers will also have city-types stepping out in elegant, finely shimmering satins and parachute silk.

Wrap-around effects

Lacing has made a comeback, and in no small measure. Long laces of leather, taffeta, cord or raffia will adorn ankles and calves. But please leave the Jesus boots in the cupboard! New on the scene are sophisticated laces that entwine pumps, platform sandals and stilettos. The new punk sandals that harken back to the eighties also draw the eye to the ankles. Here, however, the delicate straps make way for broad leather bands that are closed with bold buckles.


There is no holding back next summer when it comes to baring the whole foot. Perforated, with cut-outs or stripped down to a few straps, pumps, sandals or sandalettes will reveal the art form in creating footwear. Even men will be finding more open shoes around. Hot feet look set to become a thing of the past. Designers’ fondness for displaying the foot in all its glory is also behind the new low-cut pumps. Deep, rounded shapes bring the beginnings of toes into view. With the right foot, it is a really sexy look.


These are the G-strings of the shoe world, offering up the maximum of foot to the onlooker. With their mundane name, the shoes known as flip-flops or dianettes (named after Diana, goddess of the hunt) with the thong between the toes have added to their established fundamental utility value for every beach holiday, and are now displaying a diversity like never before. They give a sporty feel with light plastic soles, but embroidered with hundreds of tiny Swarovski stones they take a turn to the oriental, or show their playful side with giant blossoms and butterflies. Whether completely flat, on a wedge or heels, flip-flops are hip.