Ah, spring. A season that needs no introduction. While ladies get to enjoy a cornucopia of sandal options, like those gorgeous United Nudes I wrote about last week, we guys are offered a marvelous choice…of flip-flops. Or fisherman’s sandals. Woohoo.
But fear not, there is hope: Kiwi Sandals, based in Lucerne Valley, California. I came across the website about three years ago and really, really liked the styles and selection. Naturally, I bought a pair after much hemming and hawing over which one to get. Lee Risler has been handcrafting leather sandals since 1963 and, with his son, is still at it. Despite the low-tech website, ordering is very easy: send a tracing of your foot, choose your style, send payment (credit cards accepted). The foot tracing is really key, because Mr. Risler will customize the sandal to your foot. This, of course, ensures the best fit.
But it’s the selection of styles that really ask for attention. Classic, timeless, versatile – they dress up the casual and keep grounded a peacock’s ensemble.
Other than a simple thong, Kiwi offers a toe loop and single upper band sandal, one of my favourites of the bunch:
Or, the multi-strap sandals I’m wearing (like the ones at the top of this post):
After three years, they remain one of my most reliable and comfortable pair of sandals - and the style never fails to draw admiring comments.
The sandals come in black or brown leather, cushion or leather soles. Mr. Risler will even take special orders. And you may ask, how much does it cost for a custom-fitted pair of sandals? $74, except for the thong sandals ($59) and the back-strap sandal with two thick, separate bands for the upper ($78). That’s really good value. It’s also proof that men’s sandals don’t have to be boring flip flops. Given the amount of imagination that goes into women’s shoes, there’s no reason for designers to take the lazy way out with men and just stick a pattern on the footbed of a flip flop and call it a day. (I never really understood the point of sticking a pattern or print on the part of a flip flop that people stand and walk on.) Give us straps, I say! Give us interesting patterns! Gives us buckles and rivets! Lee Risler can do it at a great price, so what’s everyone else waiting for?
And just before I give the impression that Kiwi’s is for guys only, these sandals are really accessible to everyone – unisex, if you will. They have a universal style that is rooted in the general notion that men’s apparel and footwear requires a robust aesthetic, but women can get away with anything. As an added bonus, women who want heels can have them, although Mr. Risler doesn’t recommend going beyond 1”.
- Unisex, but especially great for men.
- Wonderful choice of styles.
- Customized to fit your feet.
- Reasonable price.
Note: With the exception of the photo of me (well, my feet), images are borrowed from the Kiwi Sandals website for illustrative purposes only.