Almost 60 years after Elvis warned everyone not to step on his own pair, a rising number of 21st-century alpha males are stepping out in their blue suede shoes for both work and pleasure – pushing up sales on both sides of the Atlantic.
Jeremy Paxman wore them in the “Newsnight conservatory” while reporting from the Labour conference last week. Education Secretary Michael Gove was pictured at a Policy Exchange event with a dark blue pair while giving a speech on teaching. Henry Blofeld wandered around in his while commentating on Test Match Special during the summer’s Ashes series.
Actor Richard E Grant announced earlier this month that “nothing compares to planting my blue suede shoes back on British soil after months away”, while Alastair Campbell liked the look of them so much he bought two pairs – powder-blue suede with a two-tone-effect tan sole to be precise.
And after Prince Harry modelled a fine pair in Jamaica during his Jubilee tour, Americans have also begun following suit – and not just the men either.
At Diane von Furstenberg’s prestigious New York Fashion Week show earlier this month, self-proclaimed “world’s first supermodel” Janice Dickinson wore a flat lace-up pair to match her leggings. Perhaps with the Elvis tune in her head, the 58-year-old danced her way out of the hall in a flamboyant performance for the paparazzi.
The high street is benefiting from the trend. Carol Smith, a manager at a national shoe retailer, told the BlogHer website that “sales are fantastic”.
“Men’s styles are traditional dress shoes, from oxfords and wingtips to brogues and spectators,” she said. “The difference is a kick of colour. Besides blue, top choices are red clay, bronze, green and yellow, some with a contrasting colour strip along the sole.
“It started with the younger executive and it’s going into the over-50 age group. I’ve had several men look at them and contemplate because they’re a higher-end shoe in a brighter colour. I tell them to go for it. It finishes off a suit, sweater, dress shirt and pant. It makes their whole image.”
Male shoe spending has soared in recent years with many age categories out-spending the opposite sex. Statistics from market researchers Mintel has revealed that men aged 35 to 44 spent £157 on shoes in the last year, compared with £138 for women.
The difference is even greater among 16 to 24-year-olds, with younger men spending £154, 15 per cent more than females of the same age.