Fashion loves nothing more than taking a maligned piece of menswear and turning it into a ‘trend’. Hiking boots, say, or men in kilts (okay, that wasn’t actually a thing). But even by those standards, its latest makeover is surprising.
Flip-flops, thongs, Jesus creepers – whatever you call them, open-toed footwear has been around for more than 6,000 years. Invented by the Egyptians, sandals have been deployed to varying degrees of success ever since, often less as a style move, more of a way to avoid fungal infections in gym showers.
These days, poolside footwear is a step removed from those offered by a beachside tat seller, and just like the five-day holiday stubble, can be the perfect complement to a relaxed, vacation outfit.
“When you start dressing down for summer [flip-flops] can actually complete your look,” says Hayley Bushell, a stylist at the River Island Style Studio. “There’s no need to feel self-conscious when wearing them.” Provided you’ve got your dogs ready for public display, that is.
Gone are the plastic straps designed solely to strip the skin from between your toes, replaced by more forgiving materials like moulded foam, so they hug your feet rather than slap against your soles.
And traditional styles have been joined by another revival, pool sliders: a half flip-flop, half sandal hybrid that ditches the toe-rope entirely, opting instead for a strap that sits snug across your metatarsals and works just as well over tanned skin as they do with jersey shorts and sports socks.
Whether you want to look cool by the pool or stylish in the sand, here are 15 of the best flip-flops and sliders to try on for size this season.
The OG of the pool slider revival, the Adidas Adilette came about in 1972 after the German national requested a shoe they could wear in the shower and changing room. It soon became a big seller for the brand and it now churns them out in every style and colour imaginable.
Brazil’s biggest export since samba soccer, Havaianas has been a suitcase essential for more than 50 years. Created by Scotsman Robert Fraser (not a country known for its tropical clime) in 1962, the brand now sells 200 million flip-flops every year, covering off everything from neutral block-colour to bold patterned designs.
If you want premium beach footwear without the premium price tag, River Island is the best place to visit. The high-street store has more flip-flop and slider styles than most designer labels, spanning monochrome sliders and flip-flops made from real leather, so you can give your feet the lap of luxury they thoroughly deserve.
While budget-friendly flip-flops and sliders might not be as hype-worthy as those from the big brand names, they still get the job done. Take these from New Look, which are rendered in soft foam and leave plenty of spare moolah for your flights abroad.
At last, a streetwear brand you don’t have to queue half-way down the street to get your hands on. Sliders by London-based Nicce come in more colours than your bog standard black and white, with some having a Velcro strap at the side just in case you’re tired of sliding and just want to rip them off before cannonballing into the pool.
Orlebar Brown is to swimwear what Coca-Cola is to sugary drinks – a classic done right. The brand’s tailored shorts became a fashion phenomenon at the end of the last decade, and the range has since gone on a monopolistic quest to dominate the beach bag with pieces like the two-tone Haston flip-flops a particular highlight.
Black and white imagery, smoky fragrances and snug underwear – Calvin Klein knows how to get us hot under the collar. Now, pool sliders and flip-flops by their very definition are not particularly sexy, but the brand sure does give it a good go with an all monochrome and minimalist take on beachwear.
Surfers know how to kick back and squeeze the best out of life, so you know when a pair of beach-bound brothers make flip-flops they’re something to pay attention to. Uniquely, Reef footwear features a bottle opener under the sole to crack open a well-earned bevvie before hitting the waves.
Ted Baker is a good pal, making sure whatever the weather outlook we’re always prepared with a plush scarf or stylish flip-flop. Like everything the British brand does, its footwear is funky without being garish, resulting in designs that are classic on the surface, but infinitely more exciting than other options on the market.
Not a sideline from the international model of the same name, footwear brand Gandys was set up by two brothers orphaned by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, all profits from the company have gone to the Orphans for Orphans initiative, and if that wasn’t reason enough to shop there, the brand’s flip-flops feature sandy coloured prints, with a soft cushioned sole and durable strapping.
An international status symbol, Gucci’s near-iconic sliders scream laissez faire luxury. Produced using contoured rubber and detailed with the fashion house’s green-and-red stripes, they’re easily this summer’s simplest way to maintain your style standards both at home and abroad.
Stick the right logo on something, and you turn it from prosaic into something worth queuing for. Step forth the Givenchy slide, a shoe that even has its own hashtag. Bold branding plays 99 percent of the part, but married to a moulded footbed, these slip-ons happen to be even more comfortable than your trainers.
Based in Zurich, Switzerland, premium swimear by Dan Ward seems more at home on the Italian island of Capri than a lad’s holiday in Corfu. The brand’s flip-flops are all swirling corded straps rising out of soft soles or slick crossover thongs, which quietly subvert the traditional model by encircling your big toe.
The French are predictably experts at crafting Riviera-ready kit. However, rather than opt for the obvious Gallic flair of Breton stripes, Lacoste’s sliders take a more stripped-back approach, rendered in fuss-free colourways and finished with subtle details including the brand’s instantly recognisable crocodile motif.
In the 1970s, designer Kenzo Takada pioneered the merging of Japanese-influenced style with the craftsmanship of European fashion. Today his eponymous label turns out a fine range of sliders; each sprinkled with some welcome pizzazz in the form of its emblematic tiger and a sole designed to mould to the shape of your foot.