Vancouver-based footwear designer John Fluevog has been designing shoes since the 1970s. In fact, his colourful, theatrical designs have been spotted on everyone from Madonna to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. And since 1992, he’s collaborated on and off with American fashion designer Anna Sui on footwear that complements her eclectic collections.

“John did my shoes for the Spring 1992 show, some in my fabrics and some with hand-carved wooden bottoms because I wanted to do clogs, recalls Sui. He also made shoes with the now-iconic Munster heel that were covered in Sui’s fabrics. “That was also the time that Lady Miss
Kier fell in love with those shoes, because I was styling for Italian Vogue, too, and we brought a bunch of those shoes for the photo shoot,” says Sui.

The collaboration continues to this day—the new Fluevog x Anna Sui Fall/Winter 2023 capsule features knee-high suede boots and metallic ankle cowboy boots with a platform sole. “I find working with Anna inspiring because it gets me thinking about things I may have not have
thought of before,” says Fluevog. “I find her use of materials and colours really intriguing, and she thinks about putting things together differently than me.”

Besides their deep respect and fondness for each other, it’s the duo’s similar approach to creativity that has driven multiple collaborations over the years. “John and I are birds of a feather…we have a very similar vocabulary and way of thinking,” says Sui. “We like to be different and extreme, and we like to make people really dream and fantasize about putting themselves together. I think that’s the attraction that our customers have—it takes them out of the ordinary.”

Ultimately, the shoes are appealing because they tell a story. “I like the idea that people can walk in a different world…you slide into my shoes and then you can be somebody different, you can live in a make-believe world,” Fluevog says. “Anna’s clothes are like that, they’re poppy and they’re exaggerated sometimes and they have a kind of energy to them, and I think that’s really the essence of what dress up and fashion is all about.”

Gerardo Somoza

To style your statement footwear, Sui suggests either going for a matching approach—on her runway shoes, models will wear boots with tights in a matching colour, and outfits styled with shoes in the exact same fabric or print—or really embracing a high contrast look that upends expectations. “I think that the most unexpected [pairing] is what’s going to look the newest,” says Sui.

When asked about stylist Allison Bornstein’s “wrong-shoe theory,” Sui elaborates on the appeal of less expected fashion combinations. For example, she notes, these days “gowns look cooler when there are sneakers or a more casual sort of shoe on the bottom.”

“I think this has been going on in fashion for a while now, probably through the 2000s, that whatever looked wrong before looks right—that’s what makes it look new,” says Sui.

Ready for your own statement shoe moment? Here are 5 bold, quirky pairs to step into this fall.

Shop Fall Statement Shoes

Ankle Cowboy Boot, Fluevog x Anna Sui

Price: $499


Sintra Lollipop Loafer, Maguire

Price: $240


Unbita-ab Sandals, Suicoke

Price: $270


Sculpted LX 55 Loafer, ECCO

Price: $375


Duesy Chunky Sneaker, Fluevog x Zandra Rhodes

Price: $399