Sandals’ credibility died when German tourists co-opted them abroad. Like the cargo shorts Düsseldorf natives so often pair them with, sandals are a victim of their own design. Sturdy and breezy, they make perfect sense when strolling over sun-scorched pavements. And because fashion hates function, that utility means they’re also adept at killing looks. Or, at least, they were.
In one of the biggest menswear turnarounds since David Beckham, men’s sandals have become a bona fide trend. At Bottega Veneta, that bastion of Italian style, dual-strap sandals were even paired with chunky socks. Imagine.
As well as aesthetics, you need to consider comfort and convenience. The sandal’s open design allows air to circulate around your feet, but pick a chunky enough sole, and you’re sure-footed on-road or off.
Don’t mistake that as a tip-off to visit a mountaineering store, though. Where your dad favours sweat-inducing nylon and plastic, the front row’s version is all natural. “Soft leathers are good because they’re breathable,” says Giles Farnham, head of the River Island Style Studio. “They tend to give a lot, so choose a snug pair.” But nothing so cosy your toes hang over the end.
That said, not all Jesus treads are heaven-sent. “Black or brown leather is preferable over bright colours,” adds celebrity stylist Alex Longmore. “Not only will they pare down on any potential statement, but they’re also better-suited to more conservative staples.” Which means your look should be more cuffed trousers and chinos as opposed to Koh Phangan fluoros, with low-key cotton-linen suits and crisp tees taking centre stage.
Most importantly, you should make sure your trotters are deserving of some new treads. “Go for a pedicure,” says Farnham. “It’s a moment of discomfort for feet that are actually worth seeing.” Once your feet are ready for public display, these are the best sandals to be seen in.
The Best Men’s Sandals You Can Buy This Summer
Birkenstock: the only sandals to be embraced by the German tourist, Soho House hipster, college lecturer holy trinity – and with good reason. Every single pair boasts a contoured, malleable footbed for better comfort, all housed within a classic, easy-to-wear shape.
Unless you’re actively seeking trench foot, sandals are usually limited to the summer season. So if that means you’d rather not drop a wad of cash on a new pair, look to high street retailer Zara, which will leave you enough change to hit the beer garden.
When it comes to shoes, Clarks has come up trumps for almost two centuries. And for that, we can thank traditional designs, quality leather and affordable price tags – three things that are also applied to its line of sandals, too.
Don’t get it twisted: caged sandals are more Gladiator than Girl Guide these days. To achieve a balance of form and function, Camper takes its cues from the brand’s outdoors-heavy history to pare down on any potential Big Statement.
Wether it’s fishermen sandals of the Grecian variety or the Mull of Kintyre, River Island’s options always offer the perfect balance of quality and affordability with just enough added detail to stand out without looking like a Hercules throwback.
Functional needn’t read nerd. Teva has long produced sandals that, for all intents and purposes, are more suited to ornithologists than on-point dressers, yet a lack of toggles and visible velcro make the brand’s sandals fit for stylish purpose.
Dolce & Gabbana
The Greeks don’t deserve all the credit for sandals’ current popularity. Like so much of its collection, Dolce & Gabbana often looks to Sicily for its simple sandal collection – a decidedly muted move from a brand that has previously turned out pearl-encrusted headphones.
If style has naturally progressed to favour utility designs of late, then Suicoke has very much led from the front. The cult Japanese label fuses minimalism with outdoorsy design, resulting in a very modern sandal indeed.
Despite the Hedi Slimane switch to rockstar aesthetics, Saint Laurent has long been a leader in painstakingly-crafted sandals that should be kept far, far away from an actual rock concert.
With a home on London’s Oxford Street, Dune knows a thing or two about what shoppers want. Case in point, the British retailer’s range of sandals, a simplistic offering that can be dressed up or down as appropriate.
Canada isn’t the most obvious of sandal homelands, yet Aldo brings the land of back bacon, Ryan Gosling and brutally cold winters to the forefront thanks to a range of solid kicks. Which, thankfully, includes practical but stylish sandals for your summer, wherever you’re venturing.