Friday, July 22, 2011

from sandal idea to sandal reality with Kiwi Sandals

by frédérik sisa

This is the Sam Edelman Gigi Flat:

You’ve undoubtedly seen sandals like this in various colours and styles ranging from the simple to the ornamentally frilly. But the one question that comes to mind when I see so many women wearing these sandals is this: why isn’t there an analogue for men? After all, when you strip the culturally feminine styling, the design itself – a thong sandal with an ankle strap – is unisex thanks to its simple geometry. It’s a like an urban, evolutionary step up from the flip-flop, with the added benefit that the ankle-strap allows for better biomechanics and a more comfortable gait.

As I asked myself the question, I had it in mind to test out my idea of a male-friendly design. Making my own pair of sandals was out, on account of a lack of both time and skill. Then, as I envisioned what a unisex/masculine version of the thong sandal would look like, I thought of Kiwi Sandals. If Mohop and United Nude occupy the peak of concept-driven shoe design, Kiwi Sandals are at the complementary peak, embodying the best of traditional shoe craftsmanship and classic design. Their timeless, universal style was perfect for what I had in mind. So when Rhett Risler – who, along with his wife Jessica, has followed in father Lee Risler’s footsteps to become the 2nd generation of Kiwi Sandals artisans – agreed to make the sandals for me, I was elated. I sent over my thoughts and photoshopped mockup for their review, and they took care of the rest. The results, I’m happy to say, are terrific.

Here they are:

As I hoped, the minimalist design achieves the elegantly simple look I wanted. Without dainty straps or decorations, the style creates a robust, urbane impression that, like Kiwi’s other styles, is suitable for men as well as women. Of course, as an indelible aspect of what makes Kiwis such great value for the incredible price, the sandals were custom-made from foot tracings to ensure a good fit. The modest arch support, along with the Vibram sole and high-quality leather, ensures the comfort I’ve come to enjoy from all the Kiwis I own.

Many thanks to Rhett, Lee, and Jessica for a job well done. It’s very satisfying to see the idea I had in my head turned into something real and great-looking. I couldn’t be more pleased!

Visit for more great sandals!

Note: all images are mine except for the Edelman flat, whose source is unknown to me. If the copyright holder wants me to take it down, I will naturally do so.


Anonymous said...

Love the sandals, and love the fact that you were able to have your idea made into a reality!

Frederik Sisa said...

Thanks, Anon. I appreciate it!

Jessica Risler RhettRisler said...

We love that you are happy with your sandals. As we are not as good with words we will still go on to say that we appreciate the effort, time and patience you have given us. We appreciate your patronage, and happy feet are our buisness. Thanks again Mr. Sisa you are one of our finest customers

Frederik Sisa said...

Hi Jessica and Rhett - It's obvious that you care about your work and craft - and friendly service too - so it's a pleasure to be your customer. Thanks again, and best wishes!

Jim Doran said...

These are perfect. I've had the same thought as you for years - why don't they make these for men?

I want some. I hope they start making them.

Frederik Sisa said...

Hi Jim. Thanks for your comment! Maybe you could contact Rhett and Jessica and ask them to make you a pair of sandals like mine? I'd like to think they'd be happy to oblige. If you do get a pair, let me know about it and I'll write it up in a future post.

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