Google 'elevator shoes' and you get 4,54,000 results. Invisible heels for the confident man, stack heels that click while walking and boots that add inches to your stature.
Call it the Sarkozy effect.
Two years ago when the media spied French president Nicolas Sarkozy giving himself a two-inch 'lift' with elevator heels, people couldn't stop talking about his Napoleon complex. Today, the sales of these shoes — loafers, boots and dress shoes with heels — have gone up by more than 30 per cent world over. And while designer brands like Dior, Boss and Tod's have been catering to those who love expensive shoes, it's no longer just the rich who can look taller.
Popular brands like Red Tape, Lee Cooper, Pavers and Franco Leone etc have begun adding inches to their collections, just so that the short Indian man reaches great new heights. The 'meels' as they are also known as, have been flying off the shelves. They range between Rs 2,000 — Rs 4,000.
"Earlier the options were limited to just boots, especially the cowboy kinds, but today you can get Oxfords, bluchers, sneakers and loafers with both the concealed and the stack heels that have become very popular,” says the store manager of M&B, a popular chain of shoe stores in Delhi. "And since the heel options vary from half an inch to three inches, more than a dozen men have been buying these shoes every day."
But it's not only the vertically challenged who like elevator shoes. For tall men too, a good two-inch heel turns them into coveted 6-footers they've been yearning to be since their teens. An instant image and confidence booster, some even call it magic. Take for example, Aditya Juneja. At 5' 9 he can hardly be considered diminutive, but everytime he wears those cowboy boots with the Cuban heel, he feels that the girls flock to him. "Maybe it's because I exude confidence everytime I wear them. Or maybe the circles I move in have taller women," says this 32-year-old advertising sales head, "But whatever the reason, I'm just glad that heels are in fashion and I can wear them without feeling stupid."
Does that sound very effeminate? Not unless you're wearing stilettos or pointy shoes — something that cross-dressers and gay men are very fond of. For the 'manly man' though, there is a variety of reinforced heels to choose from, which can easily add up to five inches to their height. All they have to do is alter their pants so that they hide the elevation of the heels.
Concealed heels work well for celebrities too. Tom Cruise, who has been voted as the sexiest short celebrity, doesn't hide his passion for heels, nor does our homegrown-shorty, Aamir Khan. At 5 feet 4 inches, Khan's customised high heels are a legend in the film industry.
So how tall is tall? Well, last season Dior unveiled the 6.5 cm (about 4 inches) heel for men — close to the average heel size that women slip into. But for short men too, it's a boon, since they are the one's taking fashion to dizzying new heights.