Put your best - or ugliest - foot forward in bold sandals: Luxury fashion brands have all rolled out bright and bulky footwear in time for summer

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Put your best - or ugliest - foot forward in bold sandals: Luxury fashion brands have all rolled out bright and bulky footwear in time for summer


Versace’s Chain Reaction Sandals are more artwork than footwear. These sandals feature a thick nebular platform, wild colors and Braille lettering. [VERSACE]

They’re chunky, they’re bulky and many people call them ugly. But brace yourselves, because these so-called ugly sandals are one of the hottest fashion trends to hit this summer.

The controversial footwear - continuing from the ugly sneakers trend that was in full swing last year - features elements that might remind you of your dad’s old hiking sandals. Thick bands wrap around the feet while the platforms are inches thick and flaunt color schemes that don’t seem to make any fashion sense.

Despite the visceral reaction their designs might evoke, ugly sandals are now being sold at some of the world’s most luxurious fashion houses, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

These high-end brands are fully embracing the clunky heels, perhaps the most defining feature of the ugly sandals. It’s not an exaggeration to call them architectural, given their defined, sculpturesque shape.


Top: Louis Vuitton’s Archlight Flat Sandals. Middle: Chloe’s Sonnie Sandals. Below: Gucci’s leather and mesh sandals with crystal chains. [LOUIS VUITTON, CHLOE, GUCCI]

Louis Vuitton’s Archlight Flat Sandals take inspiration from the brand’s namesake sneaker model, both featuring a pronounced arch in the middle of the outsole. With Versace’s Chain Reaction Sandals, the main body of the shoe appears almost detached from the thick nebular platform.

The ugly sandals’ characteristic super-wide Velcro straps are prominently displayed in the fashion powerhouses’ haute couture as well, as if sending out a message that style and comfort can co-exist. The trend has long been a part of sportswear brands like Reebok and Fila, which make functional sandals featuring straps that cover the majority of the instep.

A good example is Gucci’s leather and mesh sandal with crystal chains. The nose of the shoe is rounded, covering the entire front of the foot, making them look sturdy and comfortable enough to be worn on a short hike - despite their crystal chain details. Some fashion critics have already noted - and had a good laugh about - the similarity between the luxury brand’s sneaker-sandal hybrid and Newport Retro sandals from Keen, a hiking footwear manufacturer.

Fashion brands are also using ugly sandals as a creative canvas to test out bold color schemes. Louis Vuitton’s Archlight Flat Sandals contain a flash of pink, contrasted by some white and the brand’s iconic brown. Chloe’s Sonnie Sandals are mostly white and light brown but feature embellishments of patches of green and orange. Fendi’s leather sandals are also a visual shock, with dark blue padded cushions juxtaposed against bright white platforms and straps bordered with dark outlines.

For those feeling confident enough to try out ugly sandals for themselves, there are plenty of tips online on how to style these hot sellers to create the perfect look.

The beauty of the ugly sandals, fashionistas say, is that despite their bold designs, they’re very versatile and pair unexpectedly well with a lot of outfits.

The sandals make a great addition to the classic T-shirt and jeans look, for example, and are also a stylish accessory when wearing long, flowy skirts and feminine dresses.

“If you pair feminine sandals with long skirts and dresses with similar vibes, the look as whole can be boring,” celebrity stylist Han Hea-youn says. “Try adding a twist to the look with ugly sandals.”

According to Han, it’s not a bad idea to add socks to the mix as well.

In the past, people have steered away from the sandals and socks combination, leaving the look for people who are seemingly incapable of following the basic rules of fashion.

But times have changed, and in 2019, rocking socks with sandals is socially acceptable and even stylish.

“If you want to add socks to ugly sandals, the trick is to wear socks of a color that’s not part of the sandals for a more cheerful look,” said Han. “You can also wear socks that match the shoes, but not the main shade.”

BY YOO JI-YOEN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]
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