Three sneaker-sandals on a colorful background.

Who Decided Sandals Needed to Look More Like Sneakers?

The summer sandal landscape is usually pretty predictable. You have your chunky wedges, your slinky slingbacks, your classic flip-flops, your strappy gladiators, your cozy slip-ons, and those velcro hiking sandals people love to wear at music festivals. Even when summer sandals depart from those norms, they tend to fit into one of those six categories. But this summer, the zeitgeist would like us to humor something new: It wants us to consider wearing sneaker-sandals.

Sneaker-sandals are exactly what they sound like: sandals that look a lot like sneakers. (Framed differently, they’re sneakers that have been carved up to resemble sandals. I’m not sure which of those definitions sounds better, and which one sounds worse.) Imagine a classic black wedge attached to a sneaker’s rubber sole. Or a chunky slingback, with a block heel made of puffy white rubber and neon yellow bubble inserts. Or a chunky white wedge with coral shoelaces lining the straps. I am making none of this up. Sneaker-sandals look exactly like you’d expect them to. If someone asked you to combine the sneaker and the sandal, this is what you’d come up with. The question, really, is why someone would ask you to do that in the first place.

As a rule, I’m reluctant to hate on anything that looks this comfy. Our collective shift to appreciate sensible shoes has resulted in heels people can actually walk in, which is a big win (just ask anyone who’s spent 10+ minutes in a stilettos). But I’d be lying if I said the sneaker-sandal hybrid doesn’t give me pause. I mean really, were sandals notably uncomfortable before? And perhaps more shockingly, who looked at sneakers and decided they’d be better open-toed?

Right now, the use case for the sneaker-sandal is almost unimaginable. The shoes might be trendy-comfy enough to score a spot in someone’s night-out rotation. And I could also see an enterprising style star turning them into athleisure’s next big thing. But sneaker-sandals could just as easily go down in history as 2020’s equivalent of the Croc—a decidedly ugly (but comfy!) shoe that managed to captivate us all in the mid-aughts, and that made an ironic return to form in the late 2010s.

At this point, it’s far too early to call. All we can really do is regard the sneaker-sandals that have descended upon us in absolute awe (and maybe slip our toes into the temptingly ugly-cozy delights).

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1. Stella McCartney Eclipse Touch-Strap Sandals

A black, velcro-strapped sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $565 from Farfetch

2. Ash Ace Sandals

A pink, velcro-strapped sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $225 from Shopbop

3. Ash Cosmos Wedge Sandals

A black, high-heel sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $135 from Bloomingdale’s

4. NeroGiardini Wedge Sandals

A white sneaker sandal wedge.

shop the look — $215 from Neiman Marcus

5. Francis Open-Toe Sneakers

A black, velcro-strapped sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $267 from Anthropologie

6. Ash Deep Wedge Sandals

A black and white, velcro-strapped, high-heel sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $225 from Shopbop

7. Francis Open-Toe Sneakers

A peach, velcro-strapped sneaker sandal.

shop the look — $267 from Anthropologie

8. NeroGiardini Wedge Sandals

A black sneaker sandal wedge.

shop the look — $215 from Neiman Marcus