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Sporty Yikes! The Most Cringe-Worthy Spring 2014 Footwear Trend

Rarely do I respond to a footwear trend with a visceral, vehement, profound sense of  repugnance — and yet that was the overwhelming sentiment that typified my reaction to Spring 2014’s “sport sandals,” bulgy, cumbersome, lumbering sandals that resemble the Birkenstocks and Teva sandals that unwashed wannabe hippies from trust fund families insisted on wearing during my high school and college years. Sure, for Spring 2014, designers fashioned sandals using luxurious leathers, metallic colorways, floral prints, dynamic color schemes, striped wedges, buckle and stud details, and even plaid patterns, but no amount of reinventing can make these fundamentally hideous shoes appealing. Needless to say, I’ll be shunning this particular footwear fad, and I’ll feel insanely good about it — trend or no trend! Here are some of the main offenders in the sport sandal world:


Givenchy Swiss Floral-Print Flat Sandal, $795. Available at BergdorfGoodman.com

The fact that this hulking piece of junk has an $800 price tag is harrowing in and of itself. Sure, the pink floral print is romantic, but wouldn’t it be so much nicer on a sleek and ladylike pump? Between the molded leather insole, and those buckled vamp straps — both key features of the classic Birkenstock sandals — it’s difficult to imagine how these constitute a couture statement.


Jeffrey Campbell Alki Sandals, $145. Available at NastyGal.com

The ankle strap and front strap combination of these Jeffrey Campbell shoes, along with the chunky sandal, work to remind me of the sandals my grandma wore in the house (which, by the way, she was too stylish to wear outdoors, even into her ’70s!). Sure, the wedge platform and chunky split lug sole are deliberately exaggerated in an attempt to modernize the style, but these details can’t save them.


Prada Suede Asymmetric Flat Sport Sandal, $710. available at BergdorfGoodman.com

If this sandal were significantly smaller and targeted to a toddler boy with a car fascination, I might give it a pass. But no, adults — and fashion-savvy adults at that! — are the target audience for this suede sandal, featuring an asymmetrical grip-hook vamp strap and a slingback strap; a dynamic colorway that combines black, turquoise, and red hues; a padded insole; and a ridged outsole for traction. To say these crash and burn would be an understatement.


Rebecca Minkoff Talia Too Studded Flat Sandals, $250. Available at Bloomingdales.com

A cross between grandma sandals and Birkenstocks, these Rebecca Minkoff shoes even feature cork linings (a Birkenstock staple) and rubber soles. Minkoff tries her hardest to make these feel cosmopolitan and youthful, choosing a white colorway for the leather uppers and adding stud details, but again, the starting point was just too awful, too beyond redemption.


Sam Edelman Arina Sandals, $119.95. Available at Nordstrom.com

I’m a sucker for a plaid print with a punk sensibility, but even the most tantalizing tartan can’t save a shoe this tragic.  Again, here we see those molded insoles and that unnecessarily wide footbed, but these slides incorporate crossover straps along the vamp in lieu of two horizontal bands. As for the stud accents, they’d typically be cool but here, they’re just the nails on the coffin.


Stuart Weitzman The Freely Sandal, $325. Available at StuartWeitzman.com

The pyrite-colored woven fabric and foil nappa leather uppers of this slip-on, Birkenstock-inspired sandal are designed to make the casual silhouette feel a bit more glamorous, but the tactic proves unsuccessful.Hey, you can’t put strands of pearls on a pig and expect it to look like anything other than a pig.


Kenneth Cole Reaction Pepe Time Stretch Wedge Sandals, $59. Available at KennethCole.com

Whenever this season’s sport sandals don’t quite resemble Birkenstocks, they mirror Teva sandals, which pretty much fall directly beneath Bstocks on the ugly tree.Featuring a 1.5″-tall front platform and a 2.5″-tall wedge, this Kenneth Cole Reaction sandal features stretch neoprene straps in a Teva-like placement.


Mephisto Izoniasp Slide Sandals, $195. Available at Dillards.com

As with some of the styles previously shown, this one includes a cork wedge footbed that merely exacerbates its ugliness. The nubuck uppers are a cobalt blue hue and feature funky rhinestone details, but no amount of color could make these artful.


Fendi Leather Double-Strap Platform Sandals, $560. Available at SaksFifthAvenue.com

Nice try, Fendi. This double-strapped leather sandal features a stacked rubber wedge and platform that together amount to 5″ in height, with painted white, gray, and black stripes meant to create a color-blocked, layered effect. All this does, however, is call even more attention to a galumphing silhouette and make the shoe look heavier thank Frankenstein’s platform boots.



Topshop Fang Double Buckle Flatform Sandals, $80. Available at US.Topshop.com

If only that abstract floral print could save these flatform footbed sandals, with their Birkenstock-like double straps, from the dismal abyss of repulsiveness. Sadly, no amount of flowers, bows, stones, and pearls could make these sandals look ladylike and chic.


Jeffrey Campbell Adler Sandal, $99.95. Available at Nordstrom.com

The key features of this sandal: the front strap is made of a glossy black patent leather while the strap behind it and the slingback strap are both fashioned out of a matte black leather, and the cushioned platform is a crisp white color meant to create a striking sense of contrast. But the two-toned color scheme aside, this sandal’s fate is written in black and white, as it’s destined to be regarded as grotesque and even frightful by anyone with a hint of good taste.

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