Lockdown kickstarted many a lifestyle microtrend – banana bread, rollerskating, sourdough and foam furniture, to name a few – but thanks to the lure of loungewear, there were few and far between on the fashion front. One shoe, however, emerged victorious from the pandemic: the Birkenstock. Whether you went for a Gizeh thong, a Boston clog, a two-strap Arizona or a shearling-lined pair, we guarantee that the trusty Birkie – once the preserve of gardening mums and tourist dads but now worn by every footwear aficionado worth their salt thanks to collaborations with the likes of Proenza Schouler, Valentino and Rick Owens – got you through lockdown in comfort.
Although this is the year it converted even the most dedicated heels wearer, the Birkenstock has reigned supreme for so long that we thought it was impossible to find another sandal style that was utilitarian, practical and also contemporary. Lately, though, our Instagram feed has been flooded with another summer sandal that is equally comfortable and just as 'ugly' as our beloved Birkenstocks. You may recognise the fisherman sandal from your youth: a fond favourite of geography teachers (worn with socks, of course), your grandpa and toddlers, the woven leather style is half strappy sandal, half cut-out shoe, and now our summer footwear of choice.
We aren’t the only ones switching our allegiance. The Row, Grenson and Dr Martens all have quality offerings, while our favourite Insta girls have been showing us how they style the chunky shoe. Monikh paired hers with a cream silk midi dress, Brittany Bathgate went with knee-length shorts and a boxy shirt, and Poppy Almond with socks, proving the sandals will take you through the colder months, too. The beauty of the fisherman sandal is that there’s no need for a fresh pedicure: they look just as fantastic with hosiery as they do with bare feet, and they’ll work no matter what the good old British summer throws at us, weather-wise.
Move over Birkenstocks, there's a new footwear favourite in town. Shop our favourite pairs below.