industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup main Adidas New Balance Nike
Highsnobiety / Bryan Luna

School’s nearly out and it’s not just the kids who are ditching their uniforms for summer. Sneakerheads are putting their fall and winter rotations on ice in favor of footwear options that won’t suffocate their feet.

While there’s no right way to dress for summer, there is a plethora of choice: slides, sandals, lighter sneakers, and so on. That’s why we’ve tapped a number of industry insiders to see what they’re putting in their summer sneaker rotations this year.

We also took the chance to ask them about the rise of dorky dad sandals, with brands such as Teva, Birkenstock, visvim, and Suicoke experiencing a moment right now. Scroll on to find out what’s on industry insiders’ feet during the hot summer months.

Federico Barassi, SSENSE director of menswear buying

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
New Balance

What are you wearing this summer?

My go-to is typically a gray New Balance 990. I also wear a lot of ASICS, both in-line and from the Kiko Kostadinov collaboration. Vulcanized styles, whether from Converse, Vans, or Off-White™ will always be the perfect summer sneaker. My new favorite style is the Nike Shox, both the classic colorways and the collaboration with COMME des GARÇONS. If I’m not in sneakers, I’ll either be wearing loafers or a pair of flat sandals.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Everyone I speak to is very excited about the general return to elegance we’re seeing in menswear. We’re seeing a return to classic tailoring, shirting, and more refined silhouettes. Integrating these elevated pieces into an increasingly casual world means being a bit more playful with how we style them. A casual sandal is the perfect way to do that.

Bernie Gross, Extra Butter creative director

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Caliroots

What are you wearing this summer?

My current footwear rotation consists of clean, easily wearable sneakers: the big Swoosh Nike Air Force 1 Premium and Reebok Workout Plus OG are my go-to white kicks; the adidas Ozweego OG and ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 are key for comfort on days I’m running around. And then I’ll probably bust out a fresh pair of COMME des GARÇONS Converse because I keep Chuck Taylor 70s in my rotation all year round.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

The influx of Teva, Birkenstock, and Crocs is an easy transition to continue sporting the “chunky/dad” trend. We’re seeing collabs that champion the gaudy factor because the youth is embracing the irony of how “anti-fashion” they can be. We saw a few years of really minimal, clean, and grown-up man. I think the consumer has taken a polar opposite dive into shock value.

Mel Peralta, Footlocker Greenhouse Initiative team lead

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

I’m wearing the sacai x Nike LDWaffle, New Balance 990, and BAPE x adidas ZX 5000, as well as the Chinatown Market Crocs when I’m around the house or taking care of the backyard. Summertime kicks need to feel breathable and have a focus on comfort. There’s nothing worse than uncomfortable shoes while trying to get around town on sweltering 92-degree days in NYC.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Brands like Teva, Suicoke, and Birkenstock are insanely comfortable. I think they’re getting shine because folks view them as an extension of the dad sneaker craze. You grew up seeing them on your uncles during BBQ season and you have an affinity to them, even if you swore you’d never be caught dead wearing them when you were in high school.

Selma Kaci Sebbagh, creative consultant

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

I mostly wear Birkenstock during the day and sneakers at night, so my sneaker rotation isn’t that big. This summer, I’ll mostly wear the sacai x Nike LDWaffle in blue until I can get my hands on the green pair. I’ll also wear the UNDERCOVER x Nike React Element 87 in volt, as well as the Off-White™ x Nike Zoom Fly SP in pink and the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 in cream white.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

First of all, I’m a big fan of Birkenstock. I have maybe two, three pairs of the Arizona and Boston models. The popularity of brands such as Teva, Crocs, and Birkenstock is due to the democratization of comfort, practicality, and simplicity in the fashion world. Collaborations like Balenciaga x Crocs or Rick Owens x Birkenstock have also made it more acceptable to wear those brands.

Sebastian Hellström, Caliroots head of buying

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

Heavy on my rotation are my purple GEL-Sokat Infinity sneakers from the ASICS x Kiko Kostadinov collab. I think Kostadinov has done an outstanding job reimagining the possibilities of the ASICS logo and its placement, as well as the shoe’s asymmetrical design. Another favorite is the brown Nike Tailwind 79, a shoe somewhat disregarded when we talk about classics but one I’m thankful Nike brought back.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

I think it’s fashion’s natural reaction to claim something that has been considered “ugly.” We’ve seen it several times before, most recently with the bulky dad shoe, which has been around for so long now it can’t even be described as a trend anymore. The buzz around sandals lately might be from all the great collabs we’ve been seeing.

Drew Hammell, @nikestories

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

I’m revisiting silhouettes I haven’t brought out in a while. I love the Air Jordan 11 Low IE because it’s a great summer version of the Air Jordan 11 with great breathability. I’ll be breaking out my Air Tech Challenge 2s on a regular basis since Nike brought them back recently. Finally, I get looks every time I wear my Free RN Flyknit MS in volt/black/white because they are the brightest sneakers I own.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

I’ve been wearing Teva and Birkenstocks since the ’90s, so for me it’s not surprising. They’re just solid, reliable sandal options. I don’t quite understand the Crocs hype, but my three-year-old daughter has a pair.

Francky Bendahan, Sneakerness Paris founder

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

I’ll definitely still be wearing the Nike React Element 87 because I think they’re the perfect sneakers to wear with no socks. I also love the adidas Alphaedge 4D in white. It’s a great and comfy sneaker.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of that trend and not sure why they’re seeing a revival. Birkenstock has always been around, Crocs is terrible, and you can only wear Teva if you have beautiful toes. People want to wear practical shoes when the sun comes out and mix it with street fashion, thinking it’s “original.” Next.

Olga Karput, KM20 founder

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

The coolest collab of the season: the sacai x Nike LDWaffle. The over-imposed silhouette and double lacing system make this pair a unique substitute to your regular everyday footwear. Still, minimal flip-flops are my never-changing go-to. When it gets crazy-hot in Moscow — and yes, it does — comfy flat sandals are essential for casual looks. My personal favorites are the adidas by Raf Simons slides.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

The line between style and comfort is as ethereal as ever. At KM20, we bet on orthopedic-like sandals this season. I’m a big fan of Suicoke. The chunky silhouette looks cool with or without socks. Given a stamp of approval by the Palm Angels collab, the sandals live up to their reputation as the most comfortable summer footwear and are stylish.

Dennis Todisco, Outfitgrid founder

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
StockX

What are you wearing this summer?

New York summers get pretty hot, so I’m trying to keep it light and easy. I just picked up the sacai x Nike LDWaffles and UNDERCOVER Daybreaks, two clean updates of Nike archive silhouettes and perfect for the season. I’m still sliding in and out of Prestos and, for vacations, I’m running back the fragment [design x Nike] Benassi from 2014, an underrated and super-cozy minimal slide.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

I think we’re finally seeing an appreciation for the simplicity, quality, and tradition companies like Birkenstock bring to the table. Concepts, KITH, and Rick Owens have all dropped some interesting takes on the Boston and Arizona sandals, cosigning something that may have been a little too early for consumers five years ago.

Adam Welch, MR PORTER editorial director

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Prada

What are you wearing this summer?

I always have a couple of pairs of Vans OG Classic Slip-Ons on the go in the summer. My summer wedding shoe for 2019 is the J.M. Weston 180 Moccasin. I’m not really a loafers guy, but there’s something nice and sturdy about this design that I really like. Lastly, I’m very much into Prada’s bright blue boat shoes from the Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

The obvious answer is that they’re super-comfortable and easy to wear. But it’s also linked to other things: high-end designers legitimizing so-called “ugly” footwear by including it in their runway collections; the return of the ’60s and ’70s counterculture aesthetic; the trendiness of outdoor brands like Patagonia and The North Face. Plus many of these brands have sought out fashion customers through partnerships: Birkenstock and Rick Owens, Teva and Anna Sui, Crocs and Christopher Kane.

Aljoscha Kondratiew, Solebox general manager

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Nike

What are you wearing this summer?

I prefer something light and the Nike Drop Type LX is the perfect summer beater for me. The logo execution reminds me a little bit of the Tom Sachs Mars Yard and the way the sole is constructed gives me a sacai vibe. In white, they go with almost anything.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Slides were big last summer and now, as the whole look gets more technical, the footwear also needs to change. It’s not just Teva or Birkenstock that deliver that look; the visvim-inspired Suicoke sandals are doing really well at Solebox.

Treis Hill, Alife general manager

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
adidas

What are you wearing this summer?

I’m wearing the Alife x adidas Nizzas, a pair of Jordan 1s in black and white — a re-release from 2014 — and adidas slides. I’ve always preferred vulcanized shoes.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Crocs are seeing a resurgence because we made them relevant again last year! But really, the time is right and sneakers are a bit flat honestly. Wearing a Birk or Croc is not only comfortable, it’s a chance to step away from sneakers.

Josh Luber, StockX co-founder and CEO

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Anti Social Social Club

What are you wearing this summer?

I end up putting away most high-tops and wearing sandals as much as possible. I’m sure this summer it’ll be the [Straye] “Ben Baller Did the Chain” slides, my old Buscemi x Anti Social Social Club pink slides, and, from a shoe standpoint, usually things I can wear without socks. That includes YEEZYs, Pharrell’s Human Race, anything Flyknit, and the UNDERCOVER x Nike React Element 87s.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Everything goes in cycles and I think it’s about time they came back. That’s just the natural cycle of things. What we’ve also seen is brands like Teva, Crocs, and Birkenstock collaborating with the brands of today. It’s no surprise seeing Ronnie [Fieg] doing KITH collabs with Birkenstock, and I think the collaboration Chinatown Market did with Crocs was amazing.

Damien Paul, MATCHESFASHION.COM head of menswear

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
MATCHESFASHION

What are you wearing this summer?

I’m a fan of the brand Hereu, which is made in Spain by local artisans. I like their leather shoes. They’re like the school sandals I remember from the ’80s, an enclosed shoe with a strap. Another great brand for summer is Guanabana, who are based in Madrid and create smart, understated espadrilles in graphic fabrics. For high summer, you’ll find me in a pair of Suicoke sandals or my Rick Owens Birkenstocks.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

I think it’s a carry-on from the hiking trend and all the technical sneakers and normcore. Their popularity moves us on from the now-ubiquitous pool slide. I always feel that Birkenstock never really goes out of fashion. Ultimately, it’s a timeless last that has been built on comfort and, cleverly, the brand very carefully pick the occasional collaborator to create cult product.

Emily Oberg, creative consultant

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Farfetch

What are you wearing this summer?

I love my Celine slides because they can easily be dressed up or down and they’re comfortable enough to walk around in all day. Sneakers can get kind of gross when it’s too hot out, so I like to give them a rest during the summer.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

Brands such as Teva and Birkenstock are classics and always have been. It’s probably because high fashion or street brands have been doing their own renditions of them lately, and unfortunately that’s usually what it takes for the majority of people to discover the original. They’re practical and functional, and I think those two things always need to come first when dressing.

Abe Burmeister, Outlier co-founder

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Xero Shoes

What are you wearing this summer?

My go-to summer shoe is as little shoe as possible, which for me means the Xero Shoes Cloud sandals. I order extra cord and hack them to be all black. They are designed for barefoot running, putting just a few millimeters of rubber between you and the Earth. It’s about as far from a hype shoe as you can get. I also rock the exact opposite, HOKA ONE ONE’s Bondi, usually the 5, but the 6 works too.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

I’ll confess that it took Rick Owens to get me into a pair of Birkenstocks, but I’m still wearing the hell out of a pair of Arizonas from the first collaboration. The funny thing with Birkenstocks is that, despite their reputation, they’re not actually comfortable — but they are comforting. They don’t make you want to travel far, but they do make your feet feel loved and I’m all for it.

John McPheters, Stadium Goods co-founder and CEO

industry insiders summer sneaker rotation roundup Adidas New Balance Nike
Flightclub

What are you wearing this summer?

Global warming is real and swamp feet are not okay, so I switch out the heavier Jordan 1s and 4s that I wear all winter for lighter runners. I re-up on Air Max 90 “Infrared”s and gray New Balances. I also rock YEEZY Boost 700s because, even though they look chunky, they’re surprisingly lightweight and the new “Analog” and “Tephra” colorways are good neutrals.

Why do you think sandal brands are seeing a surge in popularity?

The easiest way to get some ventilation going for your feet is to just go open-toe. My wife is a heavy adventure sandal fan and my friends rock Suicoke slides and Birks. But I’m a lifelong never-mandal man. Ask anyone. I wear sneakers at the beach. The closest I get to open-toe are the new mesh sacai x Nike LDWaffles. That’s all the exposure I need.

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