Ditch the heels, flats are the big trend for summer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 10:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 10:36am

While autumn is all about trainers (just ask Chanel), summer's must-have sandals come in all manner of permutations, although the styles that are topping editors' wish lists are far from feminine. Nothing says "I'm fashionable" this season more than a pair of ugly shoes.

Blame it on Phoebe Philo who shocked stiletto-loving fashionistas when she sent fur-lined Birkenstocks down Céline's spring-summer 2013 catwalks. A year on and almost every designer has their own version of the so-called mandal - a men's inspired sandal with chunky leather straps, buckles and a thick sole.

While there's no denying that these bulky Birkenstock-inspired styles score high on the comfort list (why else would they be the footwear of choice for backpackers?) they aren't the prettiest of shoes.

To make them easier on the eye, designs combine comfort and style. Top picks include Givenchy, whose style comes decorated in their spring-summer 2014 floral print. Meanwhile, French couturier Giambattista Valli has collaborated with Birkenstock on a deluxe pair in pastel pink and decorated with silver studs.

Another popular alternative offered on the catwalks is the orthopaedic-looking hiking sandal, complete with rubber soles and Velcro straps. Slightly sportier than the mandal but no sexier, it made its debut at the Marc by Marc Jacobs show in a black and white version embellished with sequins.

When Miuccia Prada sent out her bright yellow styles covered in gobstopper-sized crystals, we knew this was a serious trend (just make sure you leave the matching striped socks at home). Now everyone has jumped on the bandwagon including Balenciaga, whose all black leather style is decorated with gold studs for a luxe look.

Perhaps the most wearable of the ugly sandal group are pool slides, which were championed by Christopher Kane two years ago. Not only are they easy to wear (you simply slide them on as the name suggests) but they are more streamlined in terms of silhouette. Take them from boring to luxe by choosing a style in an unusual fabric (such as calf half, courtesy of J.W. Anderson) or even metallic leather, which will match perfectly with your summer whites. They look fantastic under a pair of wide-legged trousers.

Espadrilles are the best bet for those looking for more coverage. Once a tacky souvenir you would pick up at a holiday market, they have had a luxury makeover thanks to brands like Chanel whose logo-covered canvas and leather versions are flying off shelves. Valentino's come in lace while Loewe's supple leather version are available in bold shades of orange and blue. Toms are still popular, although it's also worth checking out Hong Kong brand Portovelo, whose canvas shoes are a cool hybrid of French Riviera boat shoes and bak fan yu slip-ons. For each pair purchased Portovelo will donate 15 meals to a child in need in Mongolia.

While this season's flats veer towards the masculine, there are still plenty of pretty and dainty styles to choose from. The flip-flop is still a summer essential, but style it up by choosing a pair made from luxe leather or exotic skins.

Singaporean-based label George Blue is all about traditional craftsmanship with each pair handmade in Florence, Italy. While the leather versions are classic, their exotics collection boasts python and lizard skin styles in vibrant colours such as blue, burned orange, emerald and red.

Get ready to put your best foot forward this summer - ugly sandals or not.