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Heels Head Lower, Is the Economy Heading Higher?
CNBC.com | November 17, 2011 | 01:54 AM EST

What do shoes say about the economy? Perhaps a lot.

In the 1920s, low-heeled flapper shoes gave way to high-heel pumps and platforms during the Great Depression.

In the 1970s oil crisis, platforms came back en vogue as the low-heeled sandals of the late 1960s were cast aside.

In the 1990s, the low, thick heels of the “grunge” period were replaced by “Sex and the City”-inspired stilettos just as the dot-com bubble burst.

“Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up — as consumers turn to a more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” says Trevor Davis, a consumer product expert with International Business Machines' Global Business Services unit, in a press release.

IBM conducted a study of social media posts and is predicting that women’s heel heights, which are currently in nosebleed territory, are poised to come back down to Earth.

Perhaps the shift signals a change in the economic outlook, or maybe it’s a sign of resignation.

“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,” Davis says.

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