Chinese feminist footwear has always been a niche genre, but it’s the latest fashion trend to have found a mainstream audience.
A collection of shoes that are more than just shoes has emerged, with the trend now attracting fashion and fashion bloggers in China.
The shoes feature a range of fabrics and materials including the same soft-woven leather used in the traditional Chinese footwear, and the company has a presence in more than 30 countries.
It has a store in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and its shoes can be purchased from the company’s website, but also through China’s largest shoe store chain, Baidu.
“I am not a woman’s man, but I am a woman who loves her shoes and I want to wear them,” says Li Zhenyu, the brand’s founder.
“The shoes are so soft, I want them to stay with me forever.”
The shoe company is based in Xi’an, in western China’s Guangdong province, and its products are sold in stores in Beijing and Shanghai.
A selection of the shoes are on display at the company in Shenzhen, and it has also launched a website for women.
It’s not just the fashion bloggers who are embracing the brand, as the shoes have also become popular with the masses.
“They are really popular and there are lots of them in the stores,” says Shao Zhan, who has been wearing the shoes for more than three years.
“It is a really good thing for women.”
While the shoes feature leather, it’s also possible to wear polyester or a polyester-polyester blend, which are both made from synthetic fabrics, like a high-quality polyester.
“In terms of quality, it is very high,” says Ms Zhenya.
“There is nothing like it.”
While it’s difficult to get a look at the range of the footwear, the company advertises them on its website and the store.
“We are very interested in the products we sell and our customers and their style,” says Lili Wu, who runs the store, which has a branch in Beijing.
“But it’s hard to find shoes with the same materials.”
She explains that some of the women who are interested in wearing the style also have their own styles.
“Sometimes I wear a lot of shoes, sometimes not at all,” she says.
“When I wear shoes, I like to feel comfortable.
But when I don’t wear shoes I feel uncomfortable.”
Some women are also choosing to buy a pair of shoes instead of a pair.
“Some of my friends have started wearing shoes instead, but they are not as comfortable as a pair,” says Wu.
The new style is taking off in China, but the trend is spreading globally.
A recent study by the US company BrandWatch found that the number of women buying shoes rose by 23 per cent in the past year, while the number buying pairs of shoes jumped by 22 per cent.
“While it’s definitely a trend, the trend for the women is growing,” says Liu Yan, a product marketing manager at Baidus China.
“Now we have a variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary, and I think that we can continue to make this style popular.”
China’s women’s footwear market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2020, and sales of women’s clothing, footwear and accessories are forecast to reach an all-time high of $2.8 billion in 2019, according to the Chinese government.