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Dividing Opinion: The Viral Mesh Ballet Flat Lands at Glue Store

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If you thought ballet flats were an impropriety, and had pledged allegiance to something - anything other than those flatform sweat lockers, mesh ballet flats might make you reconsider. 

Also closely resembling water shoes used for kayaking and scuba diving, or the heavily attractive shoes worn in Europe to stumble from pebbly beach to ocean, the mesh flat has divided opinion and has now arrived at Glue Store. Rife within circles of trendsetters and celebrities, the barely-there shoe is being hailed as the go-to trend injection for your summer wardrobe.

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The Row and Alaïa Make a Case for Mesh Ballet Flats


The Row first dabbled in “naked” footwear with their Mesh Slingback Sandals and their Sock Ballet Flats, reducing the flat even further to its simplified properties. After the brand gained traction with a wider customer base following the deafening tones of Quiet Luxury, mesh flats came into the limelight, which pre-Quiet Luxury days, may have flown under the radar undetected by fashion hounds.

Back in 2019, Bottega Veneta took their square-toe mesh heels for a walk down the Pre-Fall runway. Since then, iterations of the naked ballet flat have been hashed and rehashed by designers, including the diamante-studded Marcy Flats by Khaite, the semi-sheer Luna Mesh Slippers by Le Monde Beryl, and Loeffler Randall’s Leonie Ballerina which comes in a black lace mesh.

But the brand that made the biggest splash was Alaïa with their Fishnet Ballet Flats, the strap and buckle closure granting it a Mary-Jane silhouette – another footwear trend that has been doing the rounds on It-Girl Instagrams. These sold out quickly after being spotted on Jennifer Lawrence who paired them with baggy jeans and an oversized white tee. Bridging the gap between minimalism and Quiet Luxury has allowed the brand to reach more people who are looking for a wearable “it” shoe.

Thankfully, Alias Mae has taken the initiative to offer their own version of the mesh ballet flat. The Pia Mesh Flats feature a rounded shape and vamp strap with an adjustable buckle, just like the coveted Mary-Jane look that is currently trending.

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Recession Core


The barely-there footwear trend could be a response to Recession Core that’s been sweeping the globe for the past couple of years. Less of a trend itself and more of an undercurrent to recent fashion, Recession Core is characterised by a shift towards simple, minimal looks in the face of the increasing gap between the rich and poor.

Recession Core has seen celebrities shun jewel-encrusted necklaces in favour of naked decolletages. It has discarded micro mini bags (probably by accident – they’re easy to misplace) and turned to larger, practical carryalls. Logomania and heavy branding is gone, in favour of plain basics with a hefty price tag. With the recent naming and shaming of nepo babies (children of the rich and famous who have ridden on the coattails of their parents), celebrities are increasingly aware of the disdain levelled at their fortune. And it’s in their interests to tone it down during an economic crisis.


As problematic as the rich cosplaying as the poor in a many thousand dollar knit jumper is, it harkens back to the recent past. The last economic slump occurred in the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis. Coincidentally, this is when celebs were last dressing like normal people. Names like Rihanna were hitting red carpet events and photocalls in slip dresses with bootleg jeans layered underneath them. It was also the last time mesh flats were in.

You may recall the Chinese mesh slippers that were everywhere in the 2000s. Procurable from your local two-dollar shop, these flip flops were open at the ankle, and the vamp was enclosed by mesh, often with sequins and beads woven into floral designs. Worn with everything from jeans to dresses, you were hard pressed to walk down the street in 2008 and not hear someone clacking towards you with a pair of these on.

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Are the mesh ballet flats another moment in time - a flash trend similar to the Chinese mesh slippers that were short lived and destined to be looked back on as a faux pas? Or will they be remembered as a turning point in the world of footwear?

Shop them while they’re hot. Here are three ways to wear the Pia Mesh Flats.


1. With Denim


Pair the Pia Mesh Flats with baggy jeans in a blue wash. Keep it comfy and loose on the top with an oversized tee or layer with a knit vest. If the big-pants-little-top look is more your speed, pair with a camisole for a feminine look on top balanced with the flats below.

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2. With Socks


Wear the Pia Mesh Flats with a pair of white crew socks and a slip dress for coquette vibes. Or pair with denim shorts and a t-shirt for a casual look. Accessorise with a handbag and sunnies in a cat eye or 90s inspired shape. Don’t be afraid to go laddish and graphic on the top as your Pia Flats will even out the look.

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3. With a Dress


Take a flowy midi, maxi or mini dress and turn it into a look that is as at home on city streets as it is fancy restaurants. The Pia Flats are the ideal alternative to heels or stilettos for your next formal event, as their delicate, skin-baring design makes them look dressed up enough for a wedding, or to hide underneath a floor-length gown when hitting the dance floor.

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