There was a point in my high school career, smack dab in the middle of the 2010s—the dog days of the Indie Sleaze Era—where a certain pair of boots became all the rage. Overnight, it seemed like everyone was wearing ankle boots featured gaping cutouts on either side, held together by chunky buckles.

At the time, very few of us knew that what we were wearing was actually a knockoff of the Balenciaga Ceinture boot, which first debuted in the brand’s spring 2011 collection under Nicolas Ghesquière—a collection which Vogue‘s Nicole Phelps described as “a teddy boy-meets-punk masculinity.” Perhaps it was that punky ethos that appealed to my classmates and I. We paired our boots with knee-high socks, American Apparel tennis skirts, and band tees. (Somebody cue AM by Arctic Monkeys.)

The buckle boots weren’t just popular among my fellow angsty teens. Celebrities—including Mary-Kate Olsen, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Dakota Fanning, Nicole Richie, and Ashley Benson—were among their avowed fans. 

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Mary-Kate Olsen

Marc Piasecki

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Joan Smalls

Robino Salvatore

Steff Yotka, head of content at SSENSE, breaks down the middle-ground station that the boots occupied: “Practically the reason I like the style is because finding interestingly designed flat boots is almost impossible,” she says. “There are sort of basic Chelsea boots or really hefty combat boots or….nothing?” Indeed, they seemed to offer a lot of options. They could be worn in all seasons (for Californians, at least), with tights, socks, or bare-footed. I wore mine nearly every day, until the lug sole fell right off.

Not only sartorially unique, the buckle boot seems emblematic of a simpler, bygone era, even though it peaked only a decade ago. Yotka shares my sense of longing. “There’s definitely a nostalgia factor—I remember watching the Balenciaga spring 2011 show when it happened and wanting desperately to be THAT woman,” she says. Yotka has gone so far as to hunt for them, recently taking the plunge on a low-top pair. “Over the years I’ve been collecting different pieces from that show, but the boots were always a white whale.”

LOS ANGELES CA  JANUARY 16 Kylie Jenner is seen on January 16 2014 in Los Angeles California.

Kylie Jenner


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I feel like we’re on the precipice of a buckle boot comeback. Maybe it’s the wind-down of Y2K style (God willing) and the uptick in Indie Sleaze revival, or maybe it’s the fact that our wardrobes are missing the versatile boot. Either way, I would hate to see them relegated to just a slim margin of time. They deserve another day in the sun.

Whether they make a true comeback obviously remains to be seen. But Yotka has advice for those who share the sense of yearning (and don’t want to buy a used pair of Ceintures on Vestiaire or The RealReal): Kiko Kostadinov’s ribbon boots. “the perfect marriage between a sneaker and boot,” she says. 


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