Who would’ve thought that for 2021, men’s slides would be the most talked-about shoe.
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Of course, brand recognition is behind it. The classic Adidas Adilette will remain a locker-room mainstay, but over the past few years, we’ve seen this simple sandal receive the logomania treatment, sport fuzzy or quilted material, or go above and beyond with luxurious leather.
As well, the Yeezy slide – building off the popularity of the Yeezy Boost – took designer-level casual goods into an entirely new realm.
So, whether you’re inspired by celebrities stepping out in men’s slides, or you’re interested in copping a designer pair, here’s what’s behind their popularity, and some of our recommendations.
What are Slides?
Although the average user wears men’s slides like a pair of ultra-casual sandals, their origins go back to the 1970s. Adidas launched its classic Adilette in 1972 for wear by the pool. By the 1980s, brands angled their slides toward serious and pro athletes, often adding stress-reducing, foot-massaging elements.
Today, you’ll notice this through the cushioned padding and nubbed texture. The synthetic construction further doubles as a shower shoe, as it offers traction and dries quickly after.
Usage as an everyday shoe picked up traction in the late ‘90s – the era of sportswear-inspired styles – and hasn’t dropped out. In more recent years, slides have overtaken flipflops as the most popular casual sandal.
Despite slides and sandals being treated interchangeably, differences exist between them. A slide, for starters, features a single, wider, and often thicker top strap that fits over the foot. This can be a single piece of fabric or Velcro that adjusts.
The outsole, too, tends to provide a specific type of support meant to soothe sore feet and leg muscles.
A sandal, meanwhile, comes in more configurations, from multi-strap uppers to more secure styles with a back strap. Outsoles can range from thin, like you’ll find for flipflops, to impact absorbing – a feature of hiking sandals.
Our Recommendations for Men’s Slides
To sum it up, these are those you remember from your high school sports days, or wore by the pool. These slides are the most basic offerings, but comfort and construction tend to extend their lifespan.
Adidas launched these back in the 1970s, and today, the Adilette slides are a straightforward style with a shaped footbed, 3-Stripes logo across a single-piece strap upper, and a comfy, quick-drying footbed.
These upgrade the staple athletic side with Adidas’ Boost technology, which improves support and responsiveness. Consider this pair for longer walks and spending more time on your feet in something seemingly effortless.
Nike’s classic slide offering plays it equally simple. This single-strap style stands out with a textured footbed and Phylon sole unit, both designed for support. A one-piece design with the brand’s trademark slogan lets you easily slip this pair on and off – shower, locker room, pool, and beyond.
Slides have gone the way of the sweatshirt – with an increasing number of luxe versions available for this seemingly mundane athletic staple. Streetwear and streetwear-leaning brands have been leading the pack.
Gucci Supreme Tigers Slide Sandal
A canvas upper offers a more environmentally friendly material for combining Gucci’s logo print with a repeating tiger motif. More of an upscale beachside style, this pair gives you the feel you seek with a rubber base.
The other end of the designer slide trend aims for more simplicity. You see that in these Givenchy slides, featuring an all-black body with an embossed, raised wordmark added across the top.
Postcard-like elements depicting the Italian countryside have characterized Dolce & Gabbana’s last few collections. With a sole unit featuring a bright lemon print, these men’s slides are no exception and feature a contrasting blue top strap.
A multicolored, distorted version of the traditional Fendi logo covers this single-piece slide, transforming them into a statement piece in which your swimsuit takes a back seat.
The Yeezy Pure doesn’t immediately give off slide vibes. Instead, it comes off as rubberized version of a slipper-clog hybrid with a more lugged outside. Nevertheless, they use classic slide construction, complete with EVA foam for cushioning and an open toe.
Sneaker slides aren’t a true hybrid style. Rather, the top retains traditional construction, while the base adds more traction, through a more lugged, grippy texture. What results makes these more of a solid everyday-and-beyond type of pair.
On the subject of hybrids, these Prada slides are essentially a streamlined open-toe sandal. What you get is a leather upper, a more textured base, and even a heel-like lift in back.
A one-piece, all-over textured EVA slide is specifically meant for water use – think the pool to the beach to more casual kayaking and paddle-boarding trips. For these uses, Merrell adds extra arch support and 2mm lugs for more grip.
Why Men’s Slides are Suddenly Everywhere?
Men’s slides mirror the popularity of camouflage: emerging in the ‘90s, relegated to a casual, everyday staple in the 2010s, and returning through a nostalgic streetwear perspective in 2020 and 2021.
Trend wise, everything is now Y2K influenced, making men’s slides ripe for revival. Beyond sporting goods and department store brands, high-fashion offerings from Gucci, Givenchy, Fendi, Burberry, and Kanye West’s Yeezy line have all been spotted – and subsequently are highly grailed items.
At the same time, our everyday attire has transformed over the past year. Many of us are no longer buttoning up shirts, putting on chinos, or lacing up oxfords to align with a smart casual or business casual wardrobe.
Rather, the pandemic brought on a constant wardrobe of sweats – joggers to hoodies – with T-shirts swiped out for a button-down whenever you have a Zoom call.
Most of us now have a pair of house shoes – something comfortable you can quickly slide on, with sufficient traction for the outdoors. Men’s slides deliver this head-on.