The Rise of Jelly Shoes

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Any girl who grew up in the 1980s or 90s will have, without a doubt, either owned a pair of jelly shoes or really wanted some. Often in bright shades, they were perfect for everything from paddling to parties. But now, no longer the preserve of kids under 10, they’re back in the fashion spotlight with a vengeance. Fashion and social media editor Ellie Craig charts the rise of an iconic product.

1950s
There’s a bit of a debate over this, but it’s thought that jelly shoes were first made in either Britain in France. Whichever one it was, it’s safe to say they were made out of plastic due to material shortages after WWII.

Early 1980s
Popularised in the early 1980s, jellies became the shoes to own in America thanks to their bold colours and ridiculously low price tag (they were often available for under $1). When Bloomingdales started stocking the shoes in 1983 their cult status was confirmed.

1986
Family run business Juju Footwear opened its doors in 1986 in Northampton. Known as the ‘shoe capital of Britain,’ Northampton was the perfect location for this small company specialising in ‘injected’ footwear. Known for their jelly-like finish, they quickly became a seaside favourite thanks to the fact that you could wear them in the water.

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Mid 1990s
After a lull of a few years, jelly shoes were once again back on the radar of those in the know on both sides of the Atlantic. Mainly marketed at girls and teens, a few heeled versions made it into women’s wardrobes thanks to the focus on both fun and function.

2008
The classic shoe was given a makeover when British designer Vivienne Westwood and Brazilian brand Melissa launched the deliciously feminine Lady Dragon shoes back in 2008. Featuring towering heels and oversized hearts, they came in a variety of colours and helped to prove that jellies really can be high-end.

2014
Thanks to a resurgence of brands like Juju Footwear, jellies are the shoes to be wearing this season. Seen on the likes of Katy Perry, Azealia Banks and Solange Knowles, this humble design doesn’t look like it’s going to be going anywhere soon.

Shop jelly shoes now:

Images supplied courtesy of Juju Footwear.

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