Notes on a Sandal
Japanese sandal brands go West this summer
The KonMari Method isn’t the only instance of Japanese minimalism influencing Western aesthetics. As people seek to declutter their homes and lives overall, they are likewise gravitating towards fashion styles built on similarly elegant simplicity. In keeping with the trend, tastemaking boutiques around the world are now introducing several Japanese sandal brands to the global fashion crowd.
Teva, the outdoor sandal brand that was ubiquitous in the parking lots of Phish shows during the ’90s, has made an unexpected style comeback over the past several years, with Derek Lam and Opening Ceremony among its surprising collaborators. Cult Japanese brand Suicoke, also a maker of performance sandals, is emerging as a fresh alternative for those who can’t get past Teva’s crunchy history. The brand has collaborated with a number of streetwear labels, such as Norse Projects and Bal, on its trademark sandals with neoprene panels, adjustable nylon straps, molded Vibram footbed, and Vibram Morflex soles.
Geta, the Japanese wooden platform clog slides worn with kimono, are perhaps better known for foot pain and blisters than for being a subtle style statement, but Shizuoka-based footwear company Mizutori is reversing the trend. Founded in 1937, the brand is now helmed by its founder’s granddaughter, who is finding much success in expanding on its more comfortable interpretation of geta, which boast hand-sculpted arch support and chic lines. The brand’s sleek leather slide collaboration with Japanese design studio Drill Design was scooped up by hip stores such as Lisa Says Gah and La Garconne.
Named “Japan’s coolest export” by Vogue this past fall, Hender Scheme is a Tokyo-based label specializing in handmade footwear and leather goods. The brand has earned kudos from sneakerheads for its luxury ode to classic Jordans, but it’s also turning out high-end sandals, including a style inspired by a traditional Japanese silhouette. Appearing markedly more comfortable than the typical geisha shoe, the cloud-like Manual Industrial Products 11 sandal features gel padding on both the footbed and thong, as well as a flexible, durable leather sole.