You only need to see LCM’s obsession with everything military to understand designers’ love of turning the functional into fashion. But its latest makeover is more surprising than most. The flip-flop, invented by the Egyptians more than 6,000 years ago, has since been deployed less as a style move than a way to avoid fungal infections in gym showers. Until it appeared on SS16’s runways, paired with – unbelievably – knee-high socks.
But 2016’s poolside footwear is a step removed from those offered by your beachside tat seller. Forget eye-popping shades. Forget plastic straps that strip the skin from between your toes. These pared-back versions are built from moulded foam and padding, so they hug your feet rather than slapping against your soles.
The most fashion-forward versions ditch the toe-rope entirely, opting instead for a strap that sits snug across your metatarsals – half flip-flop, half sandal. Monochrome versions are the most versatile, as happy over tanned skin as they are paired with jersey shorts and sports socks, a look seen everywhere from Gosha Rubchinskiy to Calvin Klein. And now, your all-inclusive.
Adidas Originals Adilette Slides
The Adilettes are the OGs of the pool slide revival. It’s the brand’s massive ad campaign that turned slides from a way of not catching verrucas into a way for catching Tommy Ton’s camera. Bravo, marketing team.
Available at Surfdome, priced £18.99.
Orlebar Brown Watson Flip-Flops
Orlebar Brown is to swimwear what Heinz is to condiments – a classic done right. These Watson flip-flops provide a punch of colour, without throwing in any unnecessary ingredients.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £35.
Calvin Klein Intense Power Pool Sliders
Despite sounding like a fragrance, Calvin Klein’s sliders are as smart and minimalist as the brand’s mainline sportswear. Which means you can wear them for lounging by the pool, and into the bar once you’ve swapped your swim shorts for actual shorts.
Available at UnderU, priced £37.
Havaianas Brasil Flip-Flops
Brazil’s biggest export besides samba soccer has been the first thing in suitcases since 1962. Crisp, clean and designed to resemble Japanese straw sandals, Havaianas are perhaps the only poolside brand you can truly call iconic.
Available at ASOS, priced £20.
River Island Faux Leather Sliders
If you want left-field design without designer branding (or price tags), these offbeat slides from River Island put their best foot forward.
A jagged sole and neutral colour palette nod to Rick Owens, without getting too weird – perfect if you want to recline on a sun lounger without looking like an art installation.
Available at ASOS, priced £30.
ASOS Anchor Flip Flops
There are designer flip-flops, and there are versions that stop your feet getting burnt on the way to the pool. Consider these no-nonsense ASOS treads summer’s easiest footwear option.
Available at ASOS, priced £6.
Givenchy Pool Slides
Stick the right logo on something and you turn it from prosaic into worth queuing for – like these Givenchy pool slides, aka the sleeper hit of summer 2016.
Bold branding is married to a moulded foot-bed, for a pair of slip-ons that are more comfortable than your trainers.
Available at Neiman Marcus, priced £236.
Dan Ward Bi-Colour Crossover Flip-Flops
Dan Ward crafts swimwear that’s more at home in Capri than Corfu, with resort basics given a subtle makeover.
Case in point, these crossover thong flip-flops, which quietly subvert the traditional model by encircling your big toe.
Available at Matches, priced £75.
Lacoste Frasier Slides
The French are predictably experts at crafting Riviera-ready kit.
These Lacoste slides pair Gallic minimalism with the brand’s iconic crocodile logo and the strap and midsoles house extra padding to keep damp feet from rubbing. Because raw skin is never trending.
Available at JD Sport, priced £22.
New Look Navy Colour Block Flip-Flops
Summer – or, more likely, a summer holiday – is one of the few instances in which men embrace colour. But rather than reach for that cabana shirt, slip into these affordable flip-flops from New Look, which add vibrancy without burning retinas.
Available at New Look, priced £4.99.