Tevas—the strappy velcro sandals that are always swarming social media—were created by a Grand Canyon raft guide all the way back in the ‘80s, so it’s easy to understand why they look the way they do. While I’ve encountered many people who had never seen such shoes until they exploded on Instagram, the often-overlooked sandals have played a big role in my life.
You see, back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, the Teva sandal was my summer go-to for the simple facts that their flip-flop footbeds were about as cozy as they came and the brand was a family favorite on both my mom's and dad’s sides of the family. In fact, my family has been wearing Tevas for three generations.
However, as I grew up, being “on trend” became the focal point of my fashion choices. As a result, my trusty Tevas fell to the wayside in my closet, only seeing the light of day on river rafting excursions and yearly camping trips.
But fast-forward 17 years, and something miraculous happened. Just as 2019 brought "ugly" chunky sneakers back into the limelight, 2020—with help from the COVID-19 pandemic—helped remind us all of the power of genuine comfort over superficial appearance. And thus, Teva sandals took back the mic, and I made space in my closet to revisit my former fave.
When I clicked over to the brand’s website, I assumed I’d be met with the classic flat, 3/4-inch soles littered with straps and loads of velcro. What I found, however, was a welcome surprise. While Tevas still very much maintain their simple, rugged appearance, the brand has taken note of other current trends—like bold patterns, color-block designs, and platform soles—to stay as relevant as possible in the current times. And I gotta give it to ‘em: I’m all for it.
With their new styles top of mind, I realized that old-school Tevas had gotten a glow-up, and, as a result, so had my initial choice in sandals. So instead of picking out a pair of flat, low sandals as I had originally planned, I opted for the Teva Flatform Universal Mesh Print Sandals—a pair of cozy platforms available in six colors, all of which add nearly two inches in height. And y’all, I’m in love. Where the footbed is cushy just as I remember—though, admittedly, a bit more textured—the straps are even cozier than before. That’s thanks to the mesh detailing, which gives them a slightly padded feel that makes blisters virtually impossible.
Shop it! $75, Zappos.com
My only so-so opinion on the upgraded "ugly" sandal—which, BTW, has an applaudable grown-up, minimalist vibe thanks to its solid colors, sole details, and texture variations—is the feel of the footbeds. While they’re still just as cushy as the sandals from my childhood, these new sandals have teeny little bumps, which I can only assume are designed to provide extra traction if you wear your Flatforms in water so that your foot doesn’t go sliding out of the sandal. It’s actually quite innovative, but it may take time to wear in.
After rocking my Flatforms for a few weeks, the soles of my feet are used to the feel of the footbeds, and I’ve officially deemed them a summer shoe match made in heaven. So much so, in fact, that I now own two pairs: the all-black and the dark olive/sea foam.
Shop it! $75, Zappos.com
Even though I do own those two pairs, I’ll be the first to admit that Teva sandals aren’t the prettiest pair you can find on the Internet. But, I will also be the first to admit that, if sandals are on your shopping list, Teva should be your first choice.
In addition to their unparalleled comfort and nature-friendly design, the brand now creates all of the iconic straps across their entire product line with recycled plastic. “We want those who come after us to have the freedom to explore the outdoors tomorrow, so we're reducing our footprint today,” Teva wrote in a statement. Cool, cool, cool: I’m sold.