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The unlikeliest shoe trend of the year – the dad sandal

Being a parent has never been so fashionable. Forget the Kardashian-Wests and Instagram’s impossibly perfect mother, Courtney Adamo, and instead focus on how we talk about what we wear in 2015: “mom” jeans and dad jeans, the 70s mum trend, the dad bod and, now, the dad sandal.

You probably know the dad sandal already – the hiking shoe with Velcro straps typically worn with a pair of trousers that zip off at the knees, and a non-ironic bumbag containing energy bars and a compass. Practical, comfortable and about as far away from the catwalk as you could imagine.

Think again. The rise of the dad sandal started with 2014’s spring/summer shows, when Prada sent out models in shoes with those familiar Velcro straps, but blinged up with massive jewels. This summer, other designers joined the trend – Burberry had striped foam sandals, while Christopher Raeburn worked with Gola. Models on his catwalk wore hiking sandals from the brand, which could be bought for the dad-friendly price of £25. Raeburn says they worked because “it’s about femininity and function working together. We had a really interesting reaction on social media. I think it was because a lot of brands did flats, but these stood out from the other shapes.”

Jamie Chung in Teva Flatform Universal sandals at the Coachella Valley music festival in California earlier this year. Photograph: Amy Graves/WireImage

These kinds of trends are always quickly taken up by bright style sparks, who see the designer version and square the circle by buying the original. This last happened with pool shoes on the Christopher Kane catwalk in 2011, when clever so-and-sos began were wearing £10 Adidas ones soon after. In this case, that has meant style bloggers and others who take pictures of their feet for Instagram are endorsing the American brand Teva. Not so known here, they’re the equivalent of Merrells but aesthetically neater. The style to buy is the Universal. Launched last year, they come with a simple three strap design and a foam sole and cost just £35.

Prada was first to send out models in strapped flats in its SS14 show in Milan. Photograph: REX Shutterstock

If summer 2014 was all Birkenstock Arizona, this time around it’s the Universal. On sale at Asos, Mr Porter and Selfridges, as well as your finest camping outlets, Teva global sales in the first quarter of this financial year were up by nearly 7% to £26.89m. Asos has reordered the Universal several times and the firm says it will continue to stock it after this summer. Helen Attwood, Selfridges’ buying manager for shoes, says it’s performing well there, too. “It seems that each summer we see a street-up trend for ugly/comfy open-toe shoes,” she says. “A new direction is the hiking sandal, and its simplest incarnation is the Teva Original Universal – a sturdy alternative to flip-flops and perhaps the latest humble shoe to get the high-fashion treatment.”

Christopher Raeburn was among other designers who joined the trend in his SS15 collection. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

In a summer where unsettled weather has become standard, the Teva has come into its own. “I don’t think I’ve worn anything not chunky all summer and maybe that’s down to the weather,” says Hannah Rochell, fashion features editor at InStyle and founder of flat-shoe blog EnBrogue. “A chunky pair of sandals is more resilient if you get caught in the rain, and Tevas are waterproof, too.”

Of course, the hard part of rocking the dad sandal is gutting them of dad-ness and making them look high fashion instead. Rochell says this conundrum is what makes it a proper fashion-insider trend – because not everyone will understand it. “I love that there’s such a fine line between Velcro sandals that look really stylish, and ones that your dad would wear to go hiking,” she says. “I’m favouring slightly cropped tailored trousers and a slim-fit sweater.” In other words, wear city clothes rather than anything outdoorsy – silky socks rather than hiking socks. Add a slightly arch expression and adopt until the summer is out – or whenever the next parent-related trend rolls around.

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