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These Dad Sandals Might Just Win You Over

3rd May 2020

WORDS BY FLORENCE TROTT | Photography by 5 inch and up

Get ready to embrace comfort like never before.

Like the ‘dad sneaker’ that went on holiday, ‘dad sandals’ are at once a sign of the times, a remnant of ‘80s geek culture, and a throwback to ‘90s style – a time when life was easy, soles rubbery, and the most important schedule of the week was Nickelodeon’s. They’re de facto cool, and despite our initial baulks of horror when they first came on the scene (guilty), we have a theory that their popularity signifies a deeper meaning. 

As we reject preconceived ideas of femininity long past their sell-by dates, we’ve turned to a more masculine aesthetic, and have strapped ourselves into oversized, thick-soled, ‘ugly’ sandals in defiance of hyper-femininity. A pair of ‘dad’ sandals is as much a statement of intent as they are of style. They mean business. They say ‘look at me, I won’t conform, I can stand on my own two feet’. Granted, it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest shoes have a voice, but at 5 inch and up, we always let our footwear do the talking. 

‘Dad’ sandals are subversive in their refusal to be beautiful. In a world of perfectly curated Instagram feeds and personal brands, they ground us. Putting practicality first, they are no less stylish for it. The antithesis of a stiletto heel (shout-out to our high-heeled favourites), you could walk five miles in these sandals comfortably. A shoe designed for hiking and typically worn with waterproofs and non-ironic belt bags, we thought they had been relegated to the ‘80s family albums of middle-management dads on vacation. We were wrong. They’re now the must-have footwear trend of SS. At one end of the ‘dad sandal’ spectrum are those most recognisable as their hiking ancestors. High-performance, sportier styles, sometimes featuring foam soles, always featuring velcro. Worn with wide-leg culottes and oversized Tees, they scream understated cool, and are the sort of thing we imagine stylish Berliners wearing to Badeschiff for minimal techno and sundowners by the river. 

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As with many of our most persistent trends, the ‘dad sandal’ first emerged on the feet of the street style set, initially looking out of place on the Parisian boulevards – a long-forgotten relic that had been languishing in the back of Dad’s wardrobe for 20 years, thrust into the fashion limelight. Following a wave of ‘dad sandal’ runway appearances at Chanel, Fendi and Prada (as far back as 2014), the fashion cognoscenti gave the nod, and soon the shoe proliferated everywhere.

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Now, we find ourselves hankering after Chanel’s velcro-strapped sandals. Perpetually sold out (or somewhat impossible to find in our current climate) but similar styles are occasionally available on sites like Vestiaire, so activate your notifications if you are set on a pair. We dream of comfortable, squidgy soles that have been given the high-fashion treatment – like those of Fendi’s FF motif sandals. We look to Suicoke, for sporty, performance versions of the trend, and The Row can always be counted on for their luxuriously minimalist interpretation of ultra-cool staples. 

From Proenza Schouler X Birkenstock, to Arizona Love’s outdoor inspirations, we call the look ‘rambler chic’, and have welcomed the comfort-led trend with open arms and grateful feet. Combining a new definition of femininity with functionality, the ‘dad’ sandal is the perfect antidote to tired tropes and sore soles. Long may we take our fashion cues from our fathers. Who knew dads could be so stylish?

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