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Do High Heels Rise When The Economy Plunges?

Photo: Jezebel

Ladies, it’s time to take stock of your stilettos. According to the Christian Science Monitor and Jezebel, researchers have advanced a new theory that women tend to wear higher heels during a recession. “Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up — as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” explains Trevor Davis, a consumer product expert at IBM. 

Given the bleak economy we’ve been facing for the past three years, you’d expect every woman on the street to be teetering around in five-inch heels. But the lingering Great Recession seems to be having a reverse effect on footwear: by and large, women’s heels seem to be trending downwards. “This time, something different is happening — perhaps a mood of long-term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings,” says Davis. 

IBM studied posts from leading shoe bloggers and found that heel height steadily increased from 2008 until the end of 2009. By 2011, however, bloggers were trumpeting the return of flats and kitten heels. Since bloggers are among the most influential trendsetters nowadays, it seems fair to say they’re keeping their fingers on the pulse of popular shoe culture (now if only they could make stock predictions too). 

One thing the IBM study doesn’t address? Whether there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between how many shoe displays women walk past and their likelihood of going broke. Now that’s something that warrants a little extra attention.

—Mai

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