As Summer Heats Up, Footwear Brands Put their Best Festival-Ready Options Forward.
Whether it’s Coachella or Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza or Mo Pop, shoes put the exclamation point on a killer festival outfit. But the perfect street-to-stage style needs more than good looks. Festival footwear also needs to feel good for a full day and night of shows in every kind of weather, and be ready to go the next day for more of the same. The bottom line? “Festival shoes have to be comfortable, weather-appropriate and stylish, and must complement your festival outfit,” says Sanuk product line manager Heather Ingalls. But good news: No matter the music and no matter the conditions, there’s a look for every fan.
Sandals: Fair Weather Friendly “The ideal festival footwear is one that makes you feel relaxed, comfortable and free,” says Tom Cooke, VP of global product for Reef. And open, airy sandals are the go-to for warm weather events for a reason. “Sandals are great for festivals because they are so versatile,” says Emily Kidwell, global senior designer of footwear at Volcom. “Things are going to get dirty and dusty, so you might as well have something breathable and comfortable,” agrees Thomas Dixon, national sales and product manager for Ecco.
To that end, Sanuk’s Chiba Quest TX and Vagabond Lace looks rock a boho-chic vibe, with colors and patterns channeling a Mexican blanket. And textiles are a major influence for the crocheted Sage style from Bernie Mev — the woven tech keeps the shoes breathable, notes co-owner and head designer Rachel Carmi.
The X-Trinsic sandal from Ecco makes functional chic its mission, with a moisture-wicking footbed, neoprene lining and three straps for adjustability. For consumers looking for a playful feel, Reef’s Cushion Bounce Vista TX style in tie-dye has a terry cloth strap for a fun, ’80s vibe reminiscent of the first days of the brand. Reef includes materials sourced from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, too — making for a perfect tie-in for celebrating mother nature.
And Vans’ Slide-On sandal style amps it up for the season with metallic patent leather to “make those stage lights radiate off it,” Jennifer Paganetti, designer at Vans Surf says.
Sneakers: Comfort Kings “Closed-toe styles are ideal for festivals held in areas with open land where your feet have a high probability of getting dirty,” says Kate Dittloff, PR representative for OluKai. The brand’s Pehuea style offers a drop-in heel, making it easy to slide off and dance in the grass — and the Pow! Wow! version of the look celebrates the annual Pow! Wow! Festival in Honolulu, which this year features artist talks, break dancing battles, a block party and a concert featuring Eminem. Sneakers are also good great options for concertgoers planning for multi-day events. “The ideal shoe for any festival or outdoor concert is one that’s versatile in styling for multiple days,” notes Scott Patt, head of innovation and design for Cole Haan. The brand’s answer? The GrandPro Downtown sneaker features a cool mixed-material vibe along with a dual-density midsole that will stay springy day after day. Another option: Ryka’s Haiku perforated sneaker, a breathable slip-on with back-pull tab for easy on-off.
And since festivals call for a “shoe that expresses your style,” per Vans Surf’s Paganetti, over-the-top options are major winners.
Waterproof Styles: Dark and Stormy Saviors If things look like an all-out mudfest, waterproof boots are the blue-ribbon option. “You don’t want your experience ruined because your feet are wet or your shoes were ruined in the mud!” Kamik senior brand manager Caroline Piche says. The brand’s pick for a summer of music? The Sharonlo ankle boot is compact and waterproof, with a pop of patterned pizzazz on the goring. The Overcast Chelsea boot from Bogs is another easy pick for foul weather. It is also fully waterproof, with a low profile and a sustainable, algae-based footbed for “all-day comfort while you dance to the music,” according to Megan Vinton, director of product. Slip-resistant outsoles and weatherproof oiled leathers are the keys to success for Blundstone. Timeless styles like the Original 500 have attracted attention for the Australian heritage brand, according to Stephen Libonati, president of Ralph Libonati Co., the brand’s U.S. distributor. It makes sense, he said: “Festival-goers are looking for footwear that is durable, comfortable, water-resistant and stylish.”
Booties & Wedges: Support Stars To go straight from stage to a night out, booties and wedges that offer substance under foot as well as height (all the better to see the stage!) are smart picks. The Cacey Peep Toe Bootie by LifeStride has flexibility and structure in a three-inch heel with an on-trend blush upper; the Dr. Scholl’s Scout High is a fit for women craving a wedge sandal with support “that won’t leave you teetering through a field on your tip toes,” says Dr. Scholl’s design director Katie Moore. (The wide metallic gladiator straps make the look a no-brainer with a variety of outfits too.) Dansko’s Lou wedge sandal is adjustable and features a stapled construction comfortable enough “for standing on your feet most of the time,” according to Tiss Dahan, VP of marketing for Dansko.