Whoever you think your style muse is for summer, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually (or should be) a middle-aged man on his holidays.
Not in terms of what clothes you’re wearing, obviously, but regarding what to wear on your feet. This is the sort of thing fashion throws at you that elicits an initial reaction of horror and disgust, which quickly dissolves into unadulterated pleasure when you realise how incredibly comfortable and content you are while wearing said thing. This specific thing is a pair of “ugly” or "dad" sandals, so called because they’re – well, they’re not exactly beautiful. But they sure are comfy. And alarmingly desirable.
Like many trends, this is one that has always existed but has become particularly popular since it has been appropriated by fashion’s power players – in this case, it was Prada and Chanel. Last summer, for example, when Prada's sandals launched, online search platform Lyst reported a 34% increase in searches for “rubber sandals”, with a search for “Prada velcro sandals” every seven minutes. That is a lot of velcro.
At £420, the logo sandals were an instant hit, selling out everywhere, and prompting searches for 'dad sandals' to increase by a whopping 2800%, according to consumer shopping app LiketoKnow. And this summer is no different – as we speak, Google searches for 'Chanel dad sandals' are up by 40%, while Instagram is populated with 2020's sandal stars, which include Arizona Love and Cecilie Bahnsen x Suicoke.
Arizona Love has collaborated with brands such as Rosie Assoulin, Faithfull The Brand and, most recently, Mira Mikati, all of which have designed embellished sandals adorned with colourful seashells and pretty threads of fabric – firmly differentiating these dad sandals from the actual shoes your dad wears. Chances are you've seen them on Instagram, where they've been a particular hit, along with Cecilie Bahnsen's collection of thick-soled sandals with Japanese footwear brand Suicoke, complete with scores of floral beads. They're just the thing to wear with a billowing sun dress and live out the (lockdown) summer in extreme comfort.
On the high street, it’s really Teva you need to go to if you’re in the market for a pair of these sandals. The OG of the hiking sandal world, there’s all manner of colours and styles of Teva to choose from, all under £100. Kurt Geiger, too, has seen enormous success with its array of dad sandals. At fashion week last September, you almost couldn't move for the amount of editors wearing the brand's Orson sandals and, for 2020, KG has produced sporty styles with coloured straps and chunky soles.
There's also Dr Martens sandals, which are selling like hot cakes (they will require some wearing in before you achieve maximum comfort) – searches for them online have increased by 120% in the past few days alone.
Before you dismiss these pragmatic sandals completely, just think about Ganni’s hiking boots of yore (well, of 2018). They went from confusing choice of shoe to one of the sell-out pieces of autumn/winter that year and were – needless to say – ubiquitous on Instagram. If you haven’t already seen your Insta feed flooded with images of dad sandals, you’re clearly not looking hard enough.