Socks With Sandals: The Age Old Debated Trudges On
The pressing issue of our time must be dealt with, and the international ramifications are immense…
If it’s unclear when the cliche of the socks-and-sandals wearer became associated with Germans, the country has a well-documented history as a master of orthopedic sandals.
Birkenstock is obviously one of the world’s most famous brands in this field. German shoemaker Johann Adam Birkenstock established his family business in 1774. Their shoes with a cork insole were developed by 1945, and the first model resembling today’s widespread Birkenstock sandal was invented in 1964.
The shoe’s iconic status is largely due to the German-American designer Margot Fraser. While on a spa trip to Germany in 1966, she discovered how comfortable the sandals were. She started selling them in California in the 1960s, where they became popular among hippies.
In the 1980s, Fraser turned the brand into a multimillion-dollar business in the US. Today in North America, wearers of socks and sandals are rather seen as a West Coast phenomenon, satirized for instance through characters in the “Portlandia” television series and countless memes.
Another German orthopedic sandal with a cork wedge in the sole has recently gained popularity. The Wörishofer was developed in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen in the 1940s. When Hollywood stars such as Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal were spotted wearing them by 2010, the brand was added to the list of “ugly” shoes that became trendy, alongside Birkenstocks, Crocs and Ugg boots.
A close-up photograph of two feet wearing sandals and socks
Initially shower sandals, streetwear today: The Adilette
Meanwhile, the German footwear giant Adidas is behind another cult sandal. Its Adilette slides were designed in 1963 at the request of athletes who wanted a shoe they could wear in locker rooms and showers. With its orthopedic rubber sole and striped top, the iconic poolside model has since moved to the streets, and is often worn with socks too.
“Now on the streets of Berlin you’ll find at every corner youths who look like the reincarnation of the formerly typical German tourist — wearing shorts, a fishing hat, tennis socks and trekking sandals,” says Vogue’s Sämann.
Over the past few years, countless lifestyle magazines have been enthusiastically reporting that the former fashion no-go is now the hip thing to do. Main bonus points of the trend: It gives more exposure to those expensive designer socks, while hiding unsightly toes.