Isabel Marant’s Carol Sandal

They say you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes.

Well, I’ll see that historic mile and raise you an entire summer’s worth of footsteps, having donned what has arguably become Instagram’s most ubiquitous luxe footwear, thanks to a slew of influential global bloggers wearing the neo-gladiator sandals with stride, though I am not at all sure that was Isabel Marant’s ideal outcome when she’d initially pasted studs onto them.

Isabel Marant’s Carol sandal debuted during October Fashion Week in Paris for her Spring/Summer 2013 collection. I remember leaving the venue tucked into the 9th Arrondisement, eyes firmly on the prize: those so-good-it-hurts, or was it hurts-so-good, wooden stack heel sandals, featuring various studs, rivets, bolts, and a small selection of colored gem stones giving the four-strap sandals an entirely Elvis-inspired, old school and yet so damn fresh-looking feel. They were just the kind of shoes that elicit the sense that you’d be complacent with absolutely nothing else. So, I began saving up and seven months later, they were mine. The thing of it is, they were almost everyone else’s with upward of 100,000 followers on Instagram, too.

It isn’t really news that certain fashion items resonate with the digital personae of ladies of the typed word. Take, for example, 3.1 Phillip Lim’s “I Love Nueva York” tee or (yes, I’m going to go there again), the geometric white skort of Zara’s earliest summer pursuits. Before that, I can think of Valentino’s kitten heels (though it should be noted these seemed far more universal, or at very least, editor-y), and it’d probably be fair to bracket a previous iteration of Isabel Marant fan craze footwear – the Bekket sneakers – into the excerpt-at-large. But then again, that’s a trend that was both adapted by bloggers and not. So what is it about Isabel Marant’s Carol sandal that has afforded it the opportunity to become Instagram’s most viral fashion sensation of summer? And why isn’t the rest of her bank of enthusiasts indulging? Could it be that the former has sent the latter running?

A recurring topic over here at MR is the concept of being blinded by a label — when something’s pedigree – more than its style – inspires consumer lust. Is there also such a thing as blinded by the blogger? This concept would follow a similar format, only the outcome would be in reverse. I’ve seen tweets that have read something to the extent of, “If a blogger has it, I don’t want it.” Is a new bout of rebellion hitting us right in the gut of what’s been our proudest asset — singularity — and eradicating it?

I’m no dummy — the price tag attached to the shoes has certainly played an important role in the “exclusivity” factor, but from the perspective of someone (myself) who is hyper-aware of what she’s wearing all the time, who is proud to call herself a fashion blogger, who has never considered herself impervious to the trends that become endemic of being a fashion blogger, even I am just slightly put off. That has not halted the wearing process, though. And don’t get me wrong, I’m as inspired as the next guy by the likes of Jane Alridge or Jessica Stein or Rumi Neely and so forth but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you I don’t think about the image I’m projecting every time I snap those straps.

With the meteoric growth of parodic blogs, illustrated tumblr accounts and popular jokes that remain dedicated to mocking our cloth-filled endeavors, what is happening to the “personal style” portion of maintaining a personal style blog? Looks like the era of anonymity and sartorial suppression is striking in the nick of time.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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