The first time I learned what Tevas were was the first (and last) time I went hiking. The brand is known for making the most comfortable walking sandals, but they’re typically used for adventuring, not for walking to and from the subway—which, as someone who was born and raised in New York City, is about as much experience as I have with trekking.
I was crying in front of a waterfall as my boyfriend tried to comfort me while strangers looked on. Some might have mistaken these strangers’ concern for empathy, but I saw it for what it really was, the prolonged stare of someone who thinks you are definitely an idiot. They’re not wrong. My boyfriend and I struggled to maintain our balance on a slippery rock while wearing Converse, metallic jackets, and at least five other items of impractical clothing (I still had my hoops in).
As I eventually made my way down the path and looked at a sign advising us to “be careful” because “deaths have occurred here” (yes, that is what the sign actually said), I saw that everyone around us was wearing the comfortable sandals I’d later come to find were Tevas. (Fun fact: They’re technically made to stop your sandals from floating downstream; that’s why they’ve got Velcro straps.)
The second time I saw Tevas was during Fashion Week last season. Every single model at downtown designer Sandy Liang’s spring-summer 2019 presentation was wearing a pair with plain white crew socks, regardless of whatever else they were wearing. Considering the sandals’ origins, Fashion Week was the last place I expected to see them. But I couldn’t deny that they looked good with all of Liang’s designs, from her denim to her ruffled dresses.
And yet I couldn’t bring myself to even consider buying a pair. Who was I, someone who hikes in hoops and calls nature “the nature,” to wear shoes that represent everything I am not? I’m not adventurous, the thought of hiking still brings tears to my eyes, and I like being the person who always wears shoes that make people ask, “Why those?!” I am impractical and nature averse, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Tevas.
Maybe it’s because they’re everywhere. Tevas were also seen on the Marni, Louis Vuitton, and Prada runways. Gucci has a pair of jewel-encrusted Teva-esque sandals that’ll cost you over $1,000. Anna Sui and Opening Ceremony have both collaborated with Tevas for a fun take on the comfortable walking sandals that often involves a platform flatform.
Tevas even have international appeal! Suicoke, a brand that also makes Velcro-strap sandals, collaborated with Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen for her show at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Tevas have celebrity appeal! Tyler the Creator, Alexa Chung, and Bella Hadid have all been seen wearing them. Tevas are low fashion! Tevas are high fashion! Tevas can do it all.
Usually when the weather gets nice enough to wear sandals, I opt for a pair that are pretty—period. That’s the only requirement. I don’t care about anything else. But this year, for the first time I think ever, I opted for comfortable walking sandals instead. Sure, they’ll come in handy the next time I go hiking (which, if I’m being real with myself, is probably never), but I’m more interested in how they’ll look great with all the ruffled dresses I plan on wearing. I’m sure hikers will still think I look like an idiot, but this time the joke’s on them.