We are all aware of the strange footwear trends that circulate the fashion world. For example, Alexander McQueen’s “Armadillo” shoes—which featured a whopping 10-inch heel—took the fashion industry by storm in 2010. These ridiculous shoes, which caused their wearer to appear as though they had strange, rhinestoned hooves, were so hard to walk in that models everywhere refused to wear them.
Nevertheless, an even stranger trend has been sweeping this year’s runways: the mandal.
The mandal (or “man-sandal”) is simply an open-toed shoe worn by a male. They typically feature thick, leather straps, and are fastened by either buckles or Velcro. Sometimes referred to as the “Air Jesus”, these shoes are often sported by grandfathers at the beach, fashionably misled tourists, and hippies everywhere.
However, these oft-mocked shoes are slowly making a comeback: Fendi, Prada, and Valentino all featured them heavily at their European shows this season.
As a result, mandals have slowly crept their way into mainstream fashion. Celebrities like Zac Efron, Seal, and even US President Barack Obama have been photographed wearing them.
The key to rocking mandals is to keep the rest of your outfit simple and casual. As Jeremy Langmead, Editor-in-Chief of Mr. Porter Magazine, told Times Saturday Magazine: one must “handle [their] mandal with care”.
In other words, keep it simple. These shoes are best kept very plain, and are most fashion-forward in dark materials such as black or brown leather. Also, they should be paired with looser, well-tailored trousers and a button-up shirt—think “Hamptons-chic”.
There are, of course, many “no-nos” when it comes to sporting these shoes. Tim Gunn, famed American fashion consultant, suggested to the New York Daily News that “the more seriously one takes the mandal, the more ridiculous one looks”. This is extremely true: because mandals are meant to be causal footwear, they should never be worn in a professional situation. Wearing them to the office is extremely inappropriate, and will help you to lose major points with your boss.
The most important thing to remember about the mandal, however, is to never pair them with socks: as Robert Johnston of British GQ says, this unfortunate combination will make you look like “an Austrian Montessori teacher”.
At Align Orthotics, we have a few pairs of mandals for those of you that want to try out this trend. A great option for any guy is Vionic’s Ryder Sandal ($70, Align Orthotics). Their black, thong-style strap is extremely versatile and comfortable, which makes for great wearability. Also, these shoes are extremely supportive: they feature deep heel cups, which help to stabilize, support, and realign your feet back to their natural position as you move. Also, their lightweight, flexible midsole (which is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate) absorbs shock, which reduces stress on your feet, ankles, and knees.
Are you man enough for the mandal? You decide!