Pret-a-Reporter

The Story Behind Taylor Swift's Performance Shoes

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When you're shaking it off all the time, pro dancer shoes are a must

Taylor Swift was out and about last week wearing some of the top luxury shoe labels in today's market, but when she took to the stage, she was all business, donning professional dance shoes for each of her performances — quite an unusual (yet practical) shoe move. Instead of grooving in Stuart Weitzmans (a fave of Beyonce) or Louboutins (often seen on Gwen Stefani), Swift is marching to the beat of her own drum and getting custom dance shoes made at New York's Worldtone Dance.

According to Jon Grenon, the director of the theatrical division at Worldtone Dance, the singer, her stylist, Joseph Cassell, and Speak Now tour costume designer Susan Hilferty, first approached the retailer in 2011 to find shoes for her and her backup dancers. 

"We think of our shoes as athletic shoes, designed to be worn for long periods of time whether the client is a performer, competitor, or social dancer," Grenon tells Pret-a-Reporter, adding that dance shoes use the highest quality, softest leathers available — bovine, kid, and lamb leathers and suedes from Italy and Argentina — which make them much softer than a typical high heel. The soles are generally made of suede, which is more flexible, allowing the dancer to control her movements more if she were wearing a rubber or resin street sole.

"We work together to find options that can work seamlessly with her beautifully curated designer outfits, but still make her feel comfortable and stable for long periods of time onstage," adds Grenon of working with Cassell to find the right steppers for Swift.

One of the dance shoe brands favored by Swift is Werner Kern Dance shoe company, which offers designs made of goat skin from the Mediterranean for an exceptionally velvet touch and a specially tempered steel shank from Japan. "All of our shoes are specially developed and constructed for extreme performance on the stage," shares Peter Werner, CEO of Werner Kern, who creates shoes for Swift's performances. He also confided that he and his team are working with the pop star to create custom designs for her, which will debut quite soon.

Those dance shoes are most certainly working in her favor, as she shook it off without a hitch, from Hollywood Boulevard to Times Square. And dancer Karina Smirnoff would agree about the benefits of wearing proper dance footwear. She notes, "Having a shoe that offers support is really key, ankle support, a sole that grips the stage — these are all things dance shoes can offer. She is really ahead of her game to embrace dance shoes for her performances!"

Will we see other celebs follow the dance shoe trend? Or is T. Swift just way ahead of the curve on practically everything?

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