Hopefully, Crocs aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sandals. And neither should Jesus. Sandals have reclaimed a seat at the table in the footwear market, and seem poised to compete with the usual suspects, loafers and boat shoes, in the summer wardrobe.
Although watching 300 for the fifth time might have sealed the deal on buying a pair, it might also be hard to break the impression that sandals are an uninspiring concession to approaching middle age and sartorial decline. However, sandals are no longer an exclusive accessory for tired suburban dads or hip guys trying to be ironic.
They add style points on a blistering hot day, and work as an alternative to traditional footwear, when heavy-soled leather and laces leave you begging for inspiration. Expect a smarter alternative to your soiled Haivanas, and the diversity of design ensures that you aren’t confined to options that make you feel prehistoric.
Whether you’re seeking an alternative replacement to a treasured pair of loafers that have seen too many yacht parties, or are finally embracing your Spartan heritage, this list will give you a lace-free, pain-free range of sandals to see you through the year.
Since the early sixties, Valentino has never shied away from combining luxury with design that other brands might be afraid of. Although favoured by the jet-setting elite and Hollywood bigshots, Valentino’s men’s collections deserve a second look from the everyday gent. Their camouflage rubber slides offer a quirky point of difference for blister-avoidant summer footwear.
Valentino has made these from rubber, so you have the advantage of immediate comfort despite a slight trade-off in durability, which shouldn’t matter considering you won’t be wearing these to Crossfit anyway. The soles are finished with grip materials, for peace of mind when you’re trying to avoid a boozy slip into the pool (because your mates won’t give you a free pass on that one).
It’s muted orange-streaked camouflage pattern will add some colour to your summer kit, without the potential embarrassment of a novelty print that’ll go out of style in a few months. Include these in your summer rotation for best practice style inspiration.
You might think French luxury menswear and sandals make odd bedfellows, but Givenchy have proven that they’re never shy of disrupting expectations. Givenchy have released hightop-inspired sandals for the aspiring modern gladiator, or guys who still claim to be distantly related to a character in 300.
While these black leather sandals draw on historic inspiration, their modern design and colour choice leaves little doubt that these are for a contemporary audience. Because these are black leather, you’ll find they favour more formal ensembles with a muted colour palette, such as navy or dark grey.
That being said, you won’t look out of place chucking them on with shorts and a tee, and will elevate a casual outfit to smarter heights. Buckle and zip fastenings to ensure you won’t need constant adjustments through the day to retain comfort. As to be expected with French luxury, this is a steep investment, but well worth it if you want a first-class sandal that can both smarten up a casual outfit and take things down a notch with your evening kit.
In a brutal luxury clothing & accessories market, Gucci is the confident alpha that’ll be the last man standing when everyone else falls off the radar. The Horsebit leather sandal remodels a timeless classic, because even the hottest day of the year is a pretty average excuse for whipping out those union jack thongs you wore last Australia Day.
These carries Gucci’s iconic burnished gold detailing that’ll win you discreet, appreciative nods from the growing population of Gucci fanatics. These can be worn like loafers, with bonus slip-on comfort to see you through a long day on your stompers.
These are made in Italy from premium leather, ensuring long-term comfort at the leather conforms to the shape of your feet over time – no torturous breaking in period involved. Gucci’s sandals are best suited to afternoons by the pool or high-Celsius socialising that demands a more formal touch.
Consult with your accountant before taking the plunge, and see if you can squeeze this one onto the taxable expenses list. It’s not the cheapest option on the list, but that’s Gucci.
Y-3 is a collaborative effort between Adidas and Japanese designer Yohi Yamamoto, a longstanding partnership that leaves no stone unturned to create functional, aesthetic sportswear.
The Qasa Stretch-Webbing Sandal takes the athletic advantages of sneakers and the easy relief of sandals in an artful compromise between activewear and comfort.
The sandal’s top webbing is made from a stretch material, which is a boon for guys who need that little bit of extra breathing room. Y-3 have men on the run in mind, adding shock-absorbing performance cushioning to keep your heels loose and your ankles swelling-free.
It’s not a shoe for the sedentary man. If you’ve burnt through enough sneakers and need a change that’ll support long-term podiatric health, you’ve found the missing link with Y-3.
Of all the brands that probably don’t need an introduction, Prada is pretty close to the close to the top. Prada bring a century of expertise, and a history of decking out royal households to curating exceptional leather goods.
Despite their intimidating heritage, Prada often jump at the chance to test and experiment unconventional design. This orange rubber-leather number is galaxies away from your old man’s decaying sandals.
In this case, Prada has the weekend traveller or coastal adventurer in mind. With shapely leather foot beds and comfortable rubber soles, these can accompany you on afternoon treks through town, or become the go-to footwear for a weekend escape to your favoured tropical destination.
Wear them with lots of blue for flattering colour contrast. These are best suited to the casual section of your wardrobe – boardies, a tee, and your trusted aviators.
Raf Simons x Adidas
Adidas are never shy of a good collab. Working with Belgian mastermind Raf Simons, they’ve pulled off a reinterpretation of a classic look that has done the rounds poolside and beachside since 1972.
The Bunny Adilette follows the original design with some additional printed detailing that nods to the recent partnership. Made from rubber, you won’t need to risk a blister-intensive breaking in period that’ll see you clearing out the local chemist of Band-Aids and rash cream. You can chuck them on and be on your way, sans limp and grimace.
As a historic staple, the Bunny Adilette has enough longevity to see you through a bunch of summers. They are best suited to a low-key ensemble of shorts and printed shirt, for those nasty early-January scorchers.
Additionally, Raf Simons has got your back on the financial front. These are affordably priced, so a good entry to the sandal market if the pay checks are running a little lean at the moment.
Dries Van Noten
Belgian designer Dries Van Noten’s independent label has a rock-solid reputation for giving the middle finger to narrow design parameters, running the spectrum from brutal minimalism to flamboyant and dramatic.
From a family of tailors, Van Noten has done nearly 100 fashion shows since starting his label and offers two collections per year to inspire guys that want both ageless style and a point of difference. In an olive-black contrast, these quilted leather slides sit closer to the more minimalist end of the spectrum.
They’re made from first class Italian leather, with adaptable buckle fastenings and enough grip on the soles to keep you upright wherever your feet land. The muted colour palette leaves you plenty of room to combine these sandals with statement pieces or more colourful choices up top.
Because these are built solid and won’t turn your ankles into balloons, you can comfortably wear these on a day where you expect to accrue some legit miles on your feet. Best bet is to chuck these on with jeans and a tee, for those days when your sneakers deserve a day off.
There’s a convincing argument somewhere that Tom Ford is not far away from becoming the first lord, president, and high priest of luxury menswear.
The official clothier of Daniel Craig’s 007 in Spectre, Ford’s dramatic design and understated colour palette decks out plenty of big names, and provides aspirational fodder for the rest of us. These chocolate brown Italian leather sandals nod to Greco-Roman heritage with enough snazz for a proper night out.
Like all chocolate brown footwear, you can safely incorporate these with almost any shade of blue or grey, along with most sensible neutrals. The leather will assume its own unique qualities in colour and shape as you wear them, but they’ll still need the occasional massage with a brush and conditioning cream.
While these might ‘just’ be sandals, they could easily replace loafers or standard oxfords on a night out. Wear them with tailored wool trousers and a tonal button-down to leave any assumption of informality behind.
We’re told these run a bit small, so go a size up if you don’t want to be limping next to your date, or begging the bartender for a Band-Aid with your margarita.
As to be expected with TF, you’ll be paying for the upper limit of high-end, premium menswear. Budget accordingly, and hope that the raise you were promised finally comes through.
London and Florence-based Alvaro Gonsalez is the man behind the curtain in luxury menswear. With decades of design experience in the employ of various European brands, he’s recently launched his own operation to make the most of his impeccable CV without the limitations of another designer’s vision.
The Alberto leather sandal is a modest spring-summer choice for blokes who want an easy choice without too much going on. On the design front, Álvaro has left these bare bones. They’ve opted to sacrifice additional buckles, details, or branding for no-nonsense construction. With thin leather soles and unobtrusive fastenings, these are pared down to the max and will be favoured by devoted minimalists.
Alvaro leans on tan shades over black or brown, so these are best suited to your casual looks over anything formal. These will outshine your mate’s ratty boat shoes at the end of year Christmas party, and are a sensible choice to add some smart points to a linen shirt and chino combo.
Not a late-night footwear choice, but perfect for easy going daytime events.
Tod’s is a luxury footwear and accessories brand derived from almost a century of craftsmanship in Italy. They retain a stubborn focus on heritage, and are one of the last men standing who offer handmade, Italian leather goods without a bank-busting price tag.
Tod’s neoprene-trimmed leather sandals are an ideal intersection between ease of wear and contemporary style. These bad boys carry no risk of appearing middle aged.
They’ve achieved a streamlined silhouette that is modern enough to keep you out of suburban dad territory and inevitable embarrassment. Tod’s are known for their signature gommino soles – rubber pebbles that have a softening effect on the heels and ankle. They also avoid the potential discomfort of tight leather fastenings, opting to use neoprene straps (the same stuff you get in a wetsuit).
The added elasticity is ideal for days when a nice sit-down isn’t on the cards. These should be a no brainer if your feet dislike traditional leather footwear. Wear them off-duty in a casual ensemble; think chinos, a plain tee, and button-up knit for cosy style outside the office.