Tevas Are Fashion's New Favourite Shoe

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 months ago | Features

Image: Sandy Liang SS19. Image source

Teva sandals may be grounded in comfort and practicality, but they have become as much a part of the cultural zeitgeist as Levi’s 501s or the all-white sneaker. Case in point: New York Fashion Week’s spring-summer 2019 shows, which were awash with Teva sandals. Everyone from Collina Strada, to Sandy Liang and Australian label Tome featured the footwear on their runways – prompting The New York Times to assert last week: “Tevas got cute”. 

Of course, the ‘ugly-pretty’ shoe trend is nothing new – Crocs, Birkenstocks and Havaianas, I am looking at you. But the recent tendency for designers to embrace the Teva sandal coincides with the gorpcore movement – which can only spell good news for the future of our planet.

Gorpcore is the rejection of fast fashion in favour of something kinder to the planet. Over recent years, it has been embodied by brands like Patagonia and embraced wholeheartedly by youth culture, in reaction to greater environmental awareness. Which is perhaps part of the reason why curators at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) decided to include the classic Teva sandal in its 2017 retrospective, ‘Is Fashion Modern?’.

The exhibition collated 111 objects that define fashion in the 20th Century. And right there among the Breton tees, the Levi’s jeans and Steve Jobs’ famous turtlenecks, were Teva’s Original Universal Sandal. The inclusion proved that Tevas have become part of the cultural zeitgeist, but it also said something about the very fabric of our fashion landscape right now. It showed that fashion is finally moving away from frivolity and doubling down on a more conscious approach.

This is Teva to a tee. Because when the original shoe was first developed in the Grand Canyon back in the 1980s, high fashion was probably furthest from mind. Instead, a river guide named Mark Thatcher fashioned the footwear out of basic need. While hiking in the iconic national park, Thatcher decided he would need to create a shoe that wouldn’t float away. So he achieved this by rigging two Velcro watchbands to an old pair of flip-flops. And Teva was born.

Thirty years later, Tevas have become fashion's new favourite shoe, which proves that both comfort and environmentalism are officially in.


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