A dark chapter from Queensland's past is now summer's hottest item

The ghosts of Queensland's infamous white shoe brigade are alive and well on the catwalk this summer, with the footwear becoming a must-have item of the season.

A model wears white shoes at the Brisbane Fashion Festival on Monday.

A model wears white shoes at the Brisbane Fashion Festival on Monday.

Along with socks and sandals and Brian Rochford swimsuits, white shoes have long been a hallmark of the Sunshine State's reputation for gauche.

But just like pineapples ornaments have become the home decor object de jour for Millennials, the white shoe (and bootie) is a vestige of 1980s' Queensland that is having an impact worldwide.

On Monday, the Mercedes-Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival's high tea featured models decked out in the latest designer looks, the majority of them paired with white footwear.

And while the white sneaker trend shows no sign of retreating, the white stiletto and bootie is the elevated answer to fashion's obsession with athleisure, with a designer logo giving it an added Queensland touch.

Festival styling director Kimberly Gardner, herself a proud Queenslander, said the state's style had evolved dramatically in recent times and boasted a "quiet confidence".

Quiet confidence ... Brisbane Fashion Festival styling director Kimberly Gardner.

Quiet confidence … Brisbane Fashion Festival styling director Kimberly Gardner.

"[Queenslanders] tend to do what feels right for them. Of course they are influenced by the world but they stick to their guns," she said.

"They’re not scared to go outside the boundaries of what’s right and wrong. It’s like in New York how the older women have a bit of fantasy in how they dress."

And when it comes to summer style, the rest of the country can take a leaf from Queensland's book on matters of colour, Gardner said.

When styling the shows for the festival, Gardner said the "edit" must reflect "what the clientele want and need".

"With Brisbane, it’s naturally colour, [it's] joyous but you have to break it up so it doesn’t look like a kaleidoscope," she said.

Coming off the back of the national launches for David Jones and Myer but ahead of Melbourne Fashion Week, Gardner said Brisbane is attractive to national designers wanting to be "first cab off the rank".

"For the public, it’s a chance to get excited about the season. It’s a good six-month [long] summer in Brisbane. They’re shopping for summer clothes the year round. Winter is a two-week thing."

Although many Queensland designers such as Easton Pearson have gone on to enjoy national success, Gardner said many are happy to keep their base in Brisbane.

"It gives them a quiet confidence that they can grow. There isn’t much of a tall poppy syndrome here which is great. Down south there are a lot of brilliant people but they also have a tendency to knock. If someone is doing well in Queensland they tend to take people on board."

"In Queensland they like to embrace their heroes and people doing well. There is a lightness, a freedom – and people leave you alone."

The reporter travelled to Brisbane as a guest of Mercedes-Benz and the Brisbane Fashion Festival.

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