With all the talk in fashion circles about the resurgence of Birkenstocks, furkenstocks, faux-kenstocks or whatever you want to call them, it was inevitable that the nostalgic crugly (crunchy ugly) footwear march would eventually come around to Tevas, the beloved 1990s-era Velcro sandals.
The brand arrived in L.A. in a big way this week, making a push to “own festival season” by setting up a gifting suite for style influencers to pick up its famous sport sandals to wear during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival starting this weekend. The brand is also co-hosting a party there with high-fashion boutique Opening Ceremony, which will launch a collaboration with Teva later this spring.
It’s all part of an effort to introduce the outdoorsy outfit to the fashion in-crowd, including young bloggers more likely to have parents who trekked in Tevas than to have heard of Tevas themselves.
On the runways, Velcro sport sandals have been bubbling up for a while. Actual Tevas were worn with socks by models in the spring 2013 Siki Im menswear show. For spring 2014, colorblock sports sandals with jeweled accents appeared in the Prada women’s wear show. Balenciaga’s studded Arena sandals are also very Teva-like, as are Marni’s glittery Velcro Fussbetts.
Sensing a trend, Teva has introduced an expanded range of fashion colors (the coral and the enamel blue are fun) and patterns (the black-and-gold dot pattern is killer).
There are actually two styles — the Original is a flip-flop with a Velcro ankle strap, and the Original Universal has a Velcro strap across the toes and a second one around the ankle. (And I don't know why it never occurred to me, but the Original Universal sandals are a foolproof apres-pedicure shoe, because they can so easily be strapped on with no chance of polish smudging.)
Tevas (pronounced Teh-vas, not Tee-vas as I’ve been pronouncing it all my life) were created in 1984 when a group of Grand Canyon river guides came up with a way not to lose their flip-flops in the rapids. They secured them to their feet with Velcro watch straps, and a business was born.
And if you do decide to strap on the sandals at Coachella, don’t forget the trade-off: the Teva tan. Viva the '90s indeed.