Fancy Footwork: 25 Designer Shoe Brands That Will Make You Dance
Any shoe lover knows the confidence-boosting effect of rocking a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels or scalloped Chloé ballerina flats! From sky-high stilettos to trendy-meets-comfort sneakers, luxe shoes hold a special place in all our closets. And finding them for up to 85% off on thredUP is the biggest thrill EVER (wink, wink).
Whether you’re well-heeled in the luxe shoe game or just dipping your toe, this list of top designer shoe brands will up your Saved Search game, so you can find investment-worthy solemates for any look, work or play. You’ll discover iconic brands that everyone can recognize, trendy brands that are runway-ready, and even some fun, totally unique designs as well!
Iconic Shoe Brands
Every Sex and the City fan knows Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic Swarovski crystal-studded heels! A perennial pop culture icon (see: Rihanna’s denim-obsessed collaboration!), Manolo Blahnik‘s sleek stiletto heel has endured countless trends. Coveted for its understated sex appeal and quality comfort, this brand’s most recognizable pumps include the crystal buckled Hangisi, sleek BB, and the Mary Jane-inspired Campari. What makes this brand so special is that Blahnik designs and oversees the production of his heels to this day!
Instantly recognizable by the signature red logo and the iconic hardware, Gancini, Salvatore Ferragamo was (and is) the go-to shoemaker for the stars. Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were among many of the well-heeled icons fitted with the Italian house’s comfy and classic pumps. Today, the fashion house offers contemporary silhouettes in bold colors, timeless flats, and heels.
Gucci‘s iconography is so prevalent in pop culture, it’d be hard not to instantly recognize the signature green and red stripes, gilded bee embroidery, GG motif, and horsebit hardware. The Italian fashion house has continuously reinvented itself since its founding in 1928, but keeps its heritage and quality craftsmanship at its core. Its most popular shoes to date are its Jordaan loafers and stripe sneakers.
Chloé is the style icon every luxe-loving boho romantic aspires to. If you’re hunting for some Chloé styles to add to your closet, nab feminine-meets-rock’n’roll silhouettes like the scalloped Lauren ballerina flats or the highly-coveted studded Susanna boots.
A brand that comes from humble beginnings (Jimmy Choo apparently made his first shoe at age 11!), this label offers the most highly sought-after heels for comfort and high style. You’ll find Jimmy Choo classics like towering slingbacks and glittering stilettos alongside everyday footwear for the ladies who are a little extra — like rhinestone-studded sneakers extra.
Punched on sandals and heels alike, Valentino‘s Rockstuds are one of the most sought-after accents to add to every trendy gal’s closet, especially the caged heels! Don’t miss the Italian Fashion house’s signature camo print motif either. The uppers are cut from one large piece of fabric, which means that each patterned pair’s camo motif is wholly unique.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not recognize Christian Louboutin‘s signature crimson red-lacquered sole. The origin story goes that Louboutin borrowed his assistant’s bold red nail polish (can we say stilettos on fleek?) to paint the bottom of a budding design. He loved it so much that every heel from 1992 carries this attention-grabbing signature. If you see a flash of passionate red, you know it’s Louboutin. Look out for the versatile Pigalle pumps, the pointed toe So Kate, and the ultra-domineering Bianca platforms.
For the elegant woman who glides from day to night, the stylish shoes from Chanel are her secret weapon. The Parisian fashion house offers polished yet versatile styles, from its iconic two-tone cap toe slingbacks (which lengthens the leg and shortens the foot) to monogrammed espadrilles.
Contemporary Shoe Brands
Hunting for elevated heels crafted from sumptuous leather? Gianvito Rossi definitely has something for everybody. With perfectionist Gianvito Rossi at the helm, this Italian brand offers super trendy looks made of a variety of materials like calf hair, smooth leather, and suede. The Portofino sandal’s chunky ankle strap makes it one of the brand’s top crowd favorites.
Founded in 1913, Prada offers constant innovation without foregoing its strong Italian roots. You’ll find daring runway looks boosted by exquisite Italian craftsmanship (flaming stilettos and sock sneakers, anyone?), as well as classic black pumps.
Alexander Wang‘s edgy, street-wise aesthetic makes it a popular staple in every cool girl’s wardrobe. The most iconic and perennial motifs include the gravity-defying cutout heel and ball studs. The Gabi boots rank highest amongst A. Wang’s most popular shoe styles, so keep a lookout!
Known for its sex appeal and bold designs, Miu Miu‘s exaggerated silhouettes are textbook camp. If you’re one for dramatics and eye-catching embellishments, you’ll love Miu Miu’s Mary-Jane pumps with a slanted chunky heel and large faceted jewel hardware, or its heavily bedazzled velvet sandals. More is more at Miu Miu!
Despite having been founded in Spain in 1919, Balenciaga continues to be at the forefront of innovation in the luxury fashion world. Its most sought-after shoes include the Speed knit sneaker (slips on like a sock!), the incredibly chunky Triple S sneakers (dad shoes but make it fashion), and last but not least, the belted Ceinture boots (fashion girl’s throwback to her goth phase).
Alexander McQueen may be best known for its jaw-dropping couture and runway looks, but you can’t overlook the popularity of its sneakers fitted with an oversized rubber sole. You’ll also find refined Oxfords, elegant pumps, and out-of-this-world designs (like Lady Gaga’s Armadillo boots circa 2009!).
Comfortable and stylish, Stuart Weitzman‘s on-trend heels are made for strutting your stuff! Take your pick from the Nearlynude chunky front strap heels to the thigh-high Lowland suede boots. If you’re looking for affordable yet luxe red carpet-worthy shoes, you’ll find them at Stuart Weitzman.
Leather production has its disadvantages and can have a negative effect on the planet, that’s why we love Stella McCartney‘s commitment to using sustainable and cruelty-free materials! The fact that the brand offers unique, contemporary looks is just icing on the cake. Add height to your everyday look with the Elyse sneakers which feature a chunky 3″ platform sole, or add a sporty twist to your night out with mesh mules.
A runway model turned designer, Brian Atwood used to head Versace’s accessories division before launching his own namesake brand. You’ll find red carpet-worthy heels that ooze sex appeal and glamour. The Madison platform pumps are a crowd favorite and will definitely add a couple of inches to your strut.
Produced in small batches, each Loeffler Randall shoe is made by hand with carefully curated materials. This brand’s crafts minimalistic pieces that are meant to be worn beyond trends. Its bestsellers include the fantastically pleated Penny Knot mule, the Martine woven slingback, and the Emi block sandal.
Infusing ultra-feminine aesthetic within a sleek, modern shape, Aquazzura is summer’s favorite comfy heel! You’ll find delicate lace-up sandals, pearl-embellished pumps, and intricate strappy stilettos, all emblazoned with the brand’s signature gold-tone pineapple charm under the sole. Iconic silhouettes like the leg-lengthening Sexy Thing booties or the much raved about Christy pointed toe lace-up flats.
What do you get when you merge jewels, shoes, and Italian craftsmanship? Rene Caovilla! This heritage Italian brand is perfect for those looking to put their best foot forward as a wedding guest or bride. Take your pick from crystal pavé chunky pumps or faux pearl studded sandals that wrap up around the ankle, this house has something for every sparkle lover.
Playful Shoe Brands
Featuring sophisticated designs with a dash of whimsy, Sophia Webster offers shoes taken straight out of a fairytale! The shoes are cheeky and fun, including the Evangeline pumps are framed by gilded angelic wings and a devilishly sharp stiletto, or the butterfly-wing clad Chiara pumps. If you’re looking for a super fun statement, check out Sophia Webster.
British luxury shoe brand, Charlotte Olympia is best known for its Kitty motif which is embossed on everything from cardholders to cat-eared flats. Fashion girls also love the classic Dolly platform pump which has an ‘island’ platform sole for an extra tall boost. But if you’re looking to add some quirk to your closet, look no further than Charlotte Olympia’s eccentric designs, like peep-toe pumps with a flamingo motif or a fruit salad-inspired loafer.
Merging comfort and luxury craftsmanship, Tod’s offers the best of both worlds! The Gommini penny loafers are one of the brand’s most iconic silhouette and come in a variety of materials and colors. Fun fact: There are 133 trademark rubber grommets on each pair, and the leather is hand-cut and pieced together by artisans, making this brand a worthy investment.
It’s official. High fashion is on board with sneakers, and no brand does streetwear better than Common Projects. Inspired by the lines and shapes of everyday objects, this brand offers low-profile sneakers, each individually stamped with a gold serial number at the heel signifying style and size. For the minimalist, Common Projects’ Achilles low-top sneaker is a must-have for their capsule wardrobe.
Love the aesthetic of a completely worn-in sneaker, but don’t have the time to do it yourself? Oddly enough, there are enough people who answered “yes” to that question to warrant luxury brand Golden Goose. This brand features scuffed up, distressed sneakers that fetch a pretty penny. The bestselling Superstar sneaker is hand-finished by Italian craftsmen so no two scuff marks, stars, or stripes are the same.