Text by Michela Guasco
The Appeal of the German Tourist Sandal
For me it all started with Peppermint Patty, I was immediately intrigued by the sandals that Charlie Brown’s suitor was wearing all year around. As a kid I so wanted those flat slides, but they were nowhere to be found and I had to settle for Dr Scholl’s classic wood soled sandals. They weren’t exactly “it” but they were quirky enough to quench my thirst for ugly-chic shoes.
In the nineties, with the birth of grunge I finally found (on the pages of American Vogue in a now mythological Steven Meisel story and on The Face worn by a teenager Kate Moss ) what I was looking for, the Arizona sandal from Birkenstock. Simple, basic and chunky: the quintessential Hippie shoe, the ancestor of the “German tourist orthopedic sandal” that have been revamped and glamorized by fashion designers for a few seasons now. I can still remember my first pair: black suede with black buckles, I am a fashion person after all! I didn’t fall for them because they are the typical Hippie footwear, I just genuinely LIKE them and I like the look of accessories that are totally “wrong” for the outfit I am wearing, it’s merely an aesthetic, styling thing.
A shoe that doesn’t have any hint of sexiness or femininity, it’s a true to life badass shoe. And I guess that this is the agenda behind the proliferation of all the infamous sandals that have been everywhere from Paris catwalks to cool boutiques all over the globe. The first was probably Phoebe Philo at Celine that sent out her perfectly pedicured models wearing mink lined two-strap slides that had a definite surreal look (the inspiration here was definitely Meret Oppenheim’s fur covered teacup). The contrast between the chunky sandals and the super chic satin masculine pants was striking and everybody fell for it. Orthopedic-like sandals were, and still are, featured in every collection with different stages of “glamorization” that didn’t water down their quirky coolness. Exotic leather, studs, rhinestones, pretty colors have been used to re-style every variation on pseudo Birkenstock, Tevas lookalike and pool slides. I’ve been fascinated by the “fashion “ version too and strayed a little bit from my beloved Arizona, betraying them with glittery Marni “Fussbett”, Prada masculine sandals and gold limited edition gladiator-like Tevas.
There is nothing better than“ugly” shoes with a chic outfit.