The anti-trend era has reached its peak. If you're tired of chasing trends and clout, this article is for you. I recently discovered Wale Sanni while scrolling through my TikTok feed, and he is the epitome of anti-trend. With a career as a personal stylist at major retailers—currently Saks Fifth Avenue—he's seen a lot of trends come and go, noticing that customers tend to resonate with common themes over the years.
His experience on the sales floor has led to many major revelations, so I had to ask him questions about what he's learned.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into personal shopping?
Yes! I started my fashion career working in women's shoes at Macy's in 2014. At that moment, I realized how much I loved the entire experience, from listening to customers' pain points to hearing their life stories. Then fast-forward to 2021, I did a couple of music reviews in the stockroom at Neiman's, and my manager said, "Hey, why don't try this for fashion?" Then one Neverfull video later, here we are!
What's your favorite pair of shoes that you've sold while working there?
The Gucci Jordaan loafer! It's a shoe that's followed me my entire career selling women's shoes. I remember selling my first pair in 2016. I was working at Nordstrom at the time, and I was helping a customer who stayed in the store 30 minutes after we closed. I brought her out everything at the time, from Paul Green to Steve Madden. She liked a few choices but didn't love any enough to take home. At the specific location I worked, we were not allowed to sell designer shoes, but we kept a secret stash in the back just in case we wanted to purchase them as employees. I remember bringing her a pair of Gucci loafers from the secret stash and just seeing her eyes light up. She bought the loafers instantly, and from that day on, it's been a shoe that I've always had an appreciation for.
What's one thing you've learned about trends from working directly on the sales floor with customers?
The one thing that I've learned from working directly with customers is that they are trendsetters. Ultimately, they have the power to determine what trends are worth keeping for years and years to come.
What are your thoughts on trends in general?
I'd love to share my thoughts on trends. I think most brands think of the idea of trends completely wrong. When we mostly think of trends, we think of things that are coming from runway shows or New York Fashion Week that will bleed over to society. But from working in the luxury fashion space for quite some time now, I can tell you it's rarely ever the case.
Many fashion trends we deem popular just happened to converge with customers' interests more often than we give credit for.
What shoe trends have your customers been not buying into this year?
Trend one is that brands now must have a very clear understanding of the origin story and how to present that to clients. Most younger customers don't have the time nor the passion to learn what your brand is about, and if you don't have the ability to properly educate them, it'll be difficult for them to invest in your product. Trend two is the rise of androgynous clothing for men and women. Many could argue that, in certain areas of high fashion, this has always been the case, but now, we are starting to recognize the androgynous nature of fashion play out at a larger scale. Trend three is that all brands now must prioritize social media marketing. Even if you have a fantastic product, word of mouth isn't enough to leverage customers into investing in a trend.
If you'd like a practical list of trends that customers have put on the back burner, see below.
Customers Are Skipping: Logomania Shoes
Try This Instead: Quiet-Luxury It Buys
Before we even discuss this shoe style, can we talk about the styling here? I'm loving the tights, pearls, and jeans combination. Sanni reported that his customers aren't buying logomania shoes anymore and are on to something. Quiet-luxury It buys are next-level.
Customers Are Skipping: Super-High Heels
Try This Instead: Block Heels
Sanni's customers aren't really buying into sky-high heels, and I see why. Who wants to be uncomfortable? If you're not into stilettos but still want some height, blocked heels are the way to go.
Customers Are Skipping: Peep-Toe Anything
Try This Instead: Pointed-Toe Heels
Peep-toe shoes just don't make sense, so it's clear why Sanni's customers aren't buying them. They're onto something. Pointed-toe heels are way more comfortable. They're an easy way to make jeans and a tee chic.
Customers Are Skipping: Ankle-Length Booties
Try This Instead: Timeless Loafers
Loafers never go out of style. If you want to take a guess at what the most elite Saks shopper has sitting in their cart right now, they're probably loafers.
Customers Are Skipping: Just-Under-the-Knee Boots
Try This Instead: Thigh-High Boots
I recently wore thigh-high boots after seeing them in quite a few runway collections, so I'm convinced they'd be a great swap for the trend Sanni's customers aren't feeling anymore—just-under-the-knee boots. Thigh-high boots will live on.