Sneakers and boots can basically be worn year-round, no matter where you live. But if you reside somewhere where summer comes and goes in the blink of an eye, sandal season only lasts for a few months. Therefore, you don’t want to just choose any style — you’ll want to sport the best of the best in the limited time you have. And as June 20 is quickly approaching, right now presents the perfect opportunity to check out the summer 2021 sandal trends.
According to Jasmin Hekmat, founder of Cult Gaia, over the past year, many have been daydreaming about where they’ll travel again and what they’ll wear when they do so. “With summer around the corner, sandals are top of mind and people are looking for the perfect vacation-ready sandal that offers comfort and practicality but also serves as a conversation starter.” To add to that, Elza Wandler, founder of Wandler, thinks that this year, it’s about the comfortable shoe with an elegant touch. “We still will be wearing a lot of flats this summer, but the heel will definitely make its comeback as everyone is longing to dress up and celebrate life outside of our homes from the moment we’re allowed to,” she explains.
Ahead, find the 10 summer 2021 sandal trends top designers expect to dominate, from Birkenstock-like sandals you can slip on to barely there styles. Don’t sleep on these — they’ll likely start running low in stock.
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Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Extra Height
Valentina Ignatova, CMO and co-founder of BY FAR, believes that as everyone continues to work from home, it’s going to be all about comfort and ease. “Flats, especially flatforms, will provide great doses of comfort with a bit of high, and they pair perfectly with every floating summertime dress,” she tells TZR.
In addition to flatforms, designers are also seeing people gravitate towards platform silhouettes. “We saw that there is a huge trend for platforms, we sold out in almost every color in the Malena Mule,” Annamaria Brivio, founder of Paris Texas, tells TZR. “When we designed it we felt we were taking a slight risk, but we had a good feeling and it has totally exceeded our expectations,” she says. “Perhaps it is a sign that people are ready to get back to their normal lives and start living and dressing as they did before.”
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Easy Slip-Ons
“Slip-on sandals and kitten-heeled mules will be the must-haves to slide into summer with style, proving that dressing up doesn’t have to require much effort or thought to stand out,” Ignatova says. For an option that’s sure to stand out, consider By Far’s Lilo Black Gloss Leather, featuring a cushiony quilt fabric. Or for something a bit more pared-back, go for Paloma Wool’s yellow Lois slide-on iteration.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Barely There
The minimal, strappy sandal craze of 2019 is still going strong through summer 2021. According to Luisa Dames, co-founder of aeyde, part of its popularity this season could be due to the fact that people aren’t wearing heels as often. “Barely there sandals without any complicated straps are the perfect compromise as it is all about simplicity, easy to wear and comfort without compromising on aesthetic.”
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Return Of Heels
“I think we are all craving something that will make our hearts beat a litter faster, emotional pieces we connect with,” Vanissa Antonious, creative director and founder of Neous, tells TZR. Therefore, she predicts higher heels will return back into the scene. Start with a style that’s not too high at the beginning of summer, and by August, you’ll be able to conquer a skinny stiletto once again.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Classic Stripes
As for prints, Ignatova believes classic motifs of stripes will be huge this season. “Our version is a custom-made print of spray-painted lines, created by the BY FAR design team,” she explains. “Referring to the graffiti art, the spray paint is a symbol of rebellion and liberation, therefore our print was created as a protest against boredom and everything basic, a liberation from style stereotypes and an ode to the life outside, that we all miss so much.”
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Earthy Color Palette
Color-wise, Dames believes muted hues will be everywhere. “The whole earthly and pastel color palettes will be in everyone's wardrobe this summer,” she explains. Likewise, Anna McLaren, designer and founder of A.Emery, says muted shades of color like black and saddle tans will be readily available. “This season we have focused on stripping our collection back to the essentials of black, tan, and chocolate with a beautiful deep forest green as our seasonal highlight,” she explains.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Architectural Heels
In search of a unique sandal to wear this summer? Look no further than architectural heels. “For Spring/ Summer 2021, we created the Marie Sandal featuring an architectural angular heel which alludes to a sexiness, while the round toe highlights softness and femininity,” Wandler says. Additionally, this eye-catching sculptural heel has been a hit among other designers, including Neous and Nodaleto.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Elevated Flats
Hekmat says elevated flats are perfect for those who have become accustomed to a certain level of comfort during this past year. “The best part of this trend is that elevated flats can be worn just as easily with a pair of jeans as they can with a beautiful flowing dress,” she explains. Choose a style with beads on it, like the label’s Ari Sandals, or opt for a fun lace-up iteration, such as Brother Vellies’ Tyla Sandal.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Animal Prints & Materials
“I think we could see some fun prints, like zebra or croc-effect, that will be carried over to fall,” Theresa Ebagua, founder of Chelsea Paris, tells TZR. With the sculptural heel and snake print on the brand’s Kels Retro Sandals, you have two trends in one. And if you’re keen on the croc-embossed trend, give Staud’s Tessa Sandal a try.
Summer 2021 Sandal Trend: Natural Materials
Hekmat says Cult Gaia has always incorporated nature-inspired elements into its designs, like bamboo and textured raffia. “The nature-inspired will keep us going throughout the summer,” she adds. And, the Los Angeles-based label isn’t the only one releasing the trend — just look to labels like Bottega Veneta and Carrie Forbes for cool raffia shoes.