This Controversial 2000s Shoe Trend Is Back For Spring 2022

Returning to their polarizing glory.

by Erin Cunningham
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Livia Nunes Marques wears a pink jacket, a yellow dress and a Valentino mi...

Once a key component of mid-2000s fashion, women’s gladiator sandals have returned in all their strappy, lace-up, not-so-subtle glory. See: Zendaya in the latest Valentino campaign, models on the Balmain runway, and tons of influencer Instagram posts as proof.

It’s unsurprising, given the prominent mid-aughts resurgence across all categories, from clothing to music to beauty. But as with every revival, there is always a little bit that has changed. 2022’s version of the footwear takes the 2007 gladiator sandal and adds its own modern twist. And with their evolution, a once-controversial (OK, still pretty controversial) type of footwear feels a little less polarizing.

This time, the criteria for what defines a ‘gladiator sandal’ is loosened: Grommets are optional, perhaps even discouraged; straps can be dainty and ultra-thin, not just thick and made of leather; they can be two-toned or feature crystal-cut appliqués versus the standard black and brown (though those are still prominent too); and the soles range from flat to flatform to kitten heels and treaded styles. Essentially, there’s a version for an outfit or occasion.

Here, find 13 women’s gladiator sandals that will have you reconsidering the trend this spring and summer. Put them on display with a Miu-Miu-style micro-mini, or let them peek out from a pair of cropped mom jeans for some added interest. The options are endless.

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These lace-up platforms from Khaite epitomize everything the New York label is known for: simple lines, quality material, and high-end construction. Look to the brand’s runway for inspiration and style these suede sandals with a high-neck babydoll dress.

These remind me of those padded shoes I used to wear as a pre-teen — but in the best way possible. With a thong strap, square-toe, and delicate ankle straps, you’ll be ready to ditch your plastic flip-flops for good.

For those who want the look of a gladiator sandal but don’t want to fully commit to the early-aughts look, look to this low-profile pair. Here, the seamless leather straps, in a soft sandy brown, are contained to the top of the foot for a more utilitarian look.

Statement-making. Euphoria-esque. Surprisingly luxurious. There’s too many ways to describe these crystal-appliquéd heels, so I prefer something all-encompassing: the coolest. Pair with anything ultra mini to really show them off.

Gladiator sandals meet Dr. Martens. This vegan leather pair of sandals features a round toe, adjustable straps, and a treaded rubber sole to handle all the miles. Consider this your new everyday, anywhere shoe.

The girly, party-ready version of the gladiator. The metallic pink color is the true draw here, but the wrap around ankle straps prove that fun kitten heels do exist. Wear with a bold tulle dress for maximum impact.

No confusing ankle straps here. Just a sleek wrap ankle closure in a vibrant red that adds a pop of color and sophistication to even the most casual of outfits. (Just think of how these would dress up a white t-shirt and jean shorts.)

Minimalists will find their match with this pair of buffed leather sandals, designed by brand AURALEE in collaboration with Foot The Coacher. Here, there’s no special accents or embellishments: Just a thong-style strap that wraps all the way up the ankle.

These Rachel Comey sandals are all about the details. A hand-braided footbed and two-tone strap add a playful touch, while still remaining neutral and easy to style.

Padded from all angles, this neutral pair looks good no matter how you wear them. Show off the entire shoe with a floral midi dress, or let just the woven toe peek out from the hem of extra-long jeans.

Flatforms are an easy way to add interest to a look — and flatforms with a wrap-around ankle strap take that idea to the next level. With such a streamlined silhouette, these work with solids, prints, florals, the works.

The secret to getting the gladiator look without worrying about having to tie a bunch of straps? Go with a pair of slip-ons. These leather sandals mimic the criss-cross aesthetic the style is known for, but keeps it simple with single straps at the toe, vamp, and ankle.

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