This time last year, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a fashion girl in New York City that didn’t have a pair of Birkenstocks—or three—in daily rotation. From the day that Phoebe Philo sent fur-lined sandals inspired by the crunchy, cork-soled footwear down Céline’s Spring 2013 runway, they began a rapid transformation from dad shoe to fashion-blogger fave.
That doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up on sensible footwear, however, which is where rope sandals come in.
Beachy, inexpensive, and vaguely nautical looking, the sandals are made from rope that’s spun from carpet fiber and welded together into familiar styles such as slides, thongs, and ankle-wrap gladiators. The go-to brand in the States is Gurkee’s, which has been making the sandals since 1984 in West Virginia. Last season, the company teamed up with Totême, the burgeoning lifestyle brand helmed by former blogger Elin Kling, on an elevated, knotted pair that sold out on Net-A-Porter and only just got restocked on the brand’s website, following recent partnerships with Opening Ceremony and Urban Outfitters.