The Sneaker Replacement

If you can’t bear going back to heels and are a little tired of yet another pair of sneakers, consider Louis Vuitton’s highly fetching platform derby

LV Beaubourg platform derby

By Shu Xie

I’d be the first to admit that there is something appealing about men’s shoes for women. I have been a long-time fan of Dr Martens, for example, and one favourite, a worn out maroon pair issued in collaboration with Comme des Garçons, which I bought in Paris many years ago, have not met a suitable replacement.

There has been, of course, in recent years, the dramatic rise in the popularity of sneakers—a pair or two to replace every other shoe, not initially destined for sports, that you have worn. There are sneakers to go with jeans, with a floral dress, with a bespoke suit to go, well, anywhere. And then there are the shoes that perhaps shouldn’t be mentioned anymore if not for the fact that a certain Balenciaga is still selling the kicks that brought about the craze for the ill-described ‘dad’ shoe: the Triple S.

Unflattering description aside, I think there is a need for our shoe collection to not be dominated by Ultra Boosts and Air Maxes. Sure, heels have been retired for too long to hope for a massive comeback. Women’s relationship with shoes are sometimes like with their exes: they don’t have a tendency to go back to what had caused them pain. Is it not then possible to consider the next best thing to sneakers?

LV Beaubourg platform derby variations.jpgThe uppers in different colours and patterns available for the Beaubourg

One contender for my sneaker replacement that’s not a Mary Jane or ballet pumps or loafers that caught my eye recently is Louis Vuitton’s new shoe silhouette. Called the Beaubourg platform derby, it is, in fact, less related to the actual derby that my father knows well than the moc-toe, which is characterised by a seam, sometimes piped, tracing the top of the shoe. The Beaubourg is, to be expected, nothing like the frumpish moc-toe, a possible relative to the Wallabee. I suspect LV calls it a derby because of the triangular quarter top on which eyelets are affixed (like the derby!), and to distance itself from an otherwise not terribly forward shoe style.

But I am attracted to the slightly geeky, almost off-beat Beaubourg, especially the shape, with its slightly pointy toe box and the contrast stitching of the piping (as well as the corridor of the mid-sole). Furthermore, the squared rubber heel (in fact, the upper does not sit on a true platform—another misnomer) gives the shoe extra height minus the extra weight. Together with its bulk, the Beauborg is not nearly a major departure from the chunky sneakers that you and I have been slavishly wearing.

Footwear is an important category for Louis Vuitton after bags. Despite the new Insta-worthy Rhapsody boots and the reissue of the Archlight sneaker, LV calls the Beaubourg the “standout shoe” of the season. Unusually, they are not exaggerating.

Louis Vuitton Beaubourg platform derby, from SGD1,560, is available at LV stores and online. Photos: Louis Vuitton

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