Business casual took on a new meaning when the COVID-19 pandemic transformed living rooms into office spaces. In a recent study, 4 in 10 Americans reported experiencing mental health issues, up from 1 in 10 the previous year. The need to take care of ourselves is more important than ever before. But what does that look like in terms of fashion?

We’re all eager to get back to normal, and no matter what our “new normal” looks like, I think some things are here to stay. In the fashion world, I think that’s a return to comfort. When things start opening up, our wardrobes are bound to evolve, too. Comfort doesn’t mean only sweats and t-shirts or the latest athleisure though, we’re going to want to feel special, no matter where we are. Celebrations and girls-nights-out will abound—and so will the fashion that goes with them. When we’re not only being seen from the shoulders up, are we ready to slide back into those uncomfortable heels? An off-the-shoulder red dress doesn’t pair as well with the socks or tennis shoes we’ve become used to.

Comfort consumerism

According to a recent report, with foot traffic in retail and recreation shrinking by 44 percent in the US and more than 50 percent in many countries around the world, fashion and luxury sectors have been hit harder than many other industries. With anxiety and depression on the rise and our days spent in front of our computers like never before, ecommerce shows we’re still buying things—but what we’re buying is changing. We’re looking for items that play into our vision of self-care—which means many different things to many different people. From bubble baths to therapy, to that coveted bag or Cinderella worthy heels, taking care of ourselves is more important than ever before.

A term used to describe this change in the market is “comfort consumerism.” It means we want items to make us feel cozy and safe. Our brains and psyches have been through too much over the past year, so we need stability and security anywhere we can find it. Perhaps one of the greatest among us that deserve this solace are our healthcare workers. The mental and physical trauma they’ve endured over the past year is unfathomable. As I think back to my time as an orthopedic surgeon, I am grateful and humbled by what they’ve been through and how they navigate the demands of the profession. Working in the fashion industry now, I’ve worked to eliminate one more thing that they need to worry about: painful heels.

You can’t live your best life if your feet are killing you. None of us know what a post-pandemic world is going to look like. But I believe that in the fashion industry, it’s going to be crucial that we meet our customers where they are and help them reenter the places they want to go.

Luxury and wellbeing

The last year has taught us all a little more about what’s important to us—and that looks different to everyone. But I think most of us can agree that the old adage “beauty is pain” no longer feels worth it. Good times with loved ones, however, will always be worth it. I believe in finding a way to return to a lifestyle that incorporates luxury and comfort, which is where my company, Enrico Cuini, comes in.

You can’t have a great night out—or in—if your feet hurt. There’s a reason most shoes don’t adequately support and cushion your feet—it’s because they don’t address the anatomic asymmetry and variety of proportions of the foot. The body has ‘tensegrity,’ an engineering term for a system of both compression and tension. The foot is like a dome, undergoing an earthquake each time you step. Most brands don’t adequately address this because there’s a sole focus on cushioning and filling in the arches. Cushioning feels good, but it doesn’t address the tension element. Cushioning can relieve the feeling of pressure for a while but it does not actually decrease pressure like our ALIA technology.  ALIA is the acronym for Active Lift In Alignment and points to the fact that we are the only support system that dynamically responds to your movements.  Smart shoe technology for smart women and men.   After leaving my career as an orthopedic surgeon, I’ve devoted my time to make fashionable shoes not just look good, but feel good. I like to say we will elevate your sole. I think that’s the type of stability we all deserve.

As we know more, we can do more. Technology has impacted every industry this past year, and I believe that technological developments will only help to elevate stylish fashion options. The pandemic has taught us many things, like how to take care of our inner selves (souls) and how to celebrate special occasions on Zoom, but there’s one thing we’ve always known: a little black dress and heels will always put a smile on your face. The next revolution in shoes is how to take care of our soles and smile all night in a pair of heels.