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Flat Sandals – with socks – are back. Except, for us, they never went away.

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I attempted many times this week to get this month’s blog concept written, but time flew by, capped by a wonderfully fun Dansko Trunk Show at the store Friday and an amazingly rockin’ Saturday, which is where I got the push I needed to get this out. From a customer.

A stylish, self-assured young woman was trying on a Dansko clog-soled sandal style — with retro ‘mini fleurs’ print black socks. It looked so good, I couldn’t believe my reaction! It appears that I’ve subconsciously accepted what Vogue and other trend setting magazines and blogs have been so excited about recently:  the klunky sandal — with or without thick or patterned socks, is the “new look.” The look is cropping up in nostalgic variations, as well as, updated, with “break the rules” jewels, doodads, bright and metallic colors and oversized hardware.

Now you may think that a pair of fur-lined chrome metallic (with huge nailheads) “Birkenstock-like” sandals, aka, ‘furkenstock’, worn with chunky over-the–knee cabled socks, may not be your cup of tea (see Celine or Prada Fall 2013 and Spring 2014), but you might find an authentic pair of 2014 Birkenstocks worn with a Smartwool or Stance sock to be right up your alley. That’s where we’ve got it nailed.  It’s a pretty easy trickle-down, but it may take a season or two for the average eye to adjust to what feels like a huge trend or then again, it could end up looking like an intimidated-fashion-victim fad. Time will tell. But I’m betting on trickle-down trend.

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Last fall, with the rise of the menswear brogue oxford trend, the “fashion shoe-lover’s” world got very flat, very quickly. The heel-free evolution had begun again.  So after the Spring fashion shows in New York and Europe, suddenly, there was a new “sandal du jour”: anything flat resembling Birkenstock.

Birkenstock began as a symbol of the 60’s counter culture “fashion,” but has always been a comfortable, unique, timeless shoe, from a company very much into being ‘respectful of the world around us’:  To create a word to describe what they are today–Birkenstock is ” TRENDscendent.”  So now it’s’ “Comfort, meet Fashion; Fashion, meet Comfort” — So 21st century! Where have ya’ll been??

Here in Berkeley, they practically invented the concept of socks with thick-soled, flat, wide-strapped sandals. It wasn’t always a pretty sight either.  With or without socks, the Berkeley culture of the later mid-20thcentury, started this trend:  Most notably — Birkenstock, then Kork Ease platforms, then slightly later, negative-heel Earth Shoes and then, more recently, Dansko clogs, Teva Originals sandals and Fitflop platform sandals, to name a few.  There are probably hundreds of other brands, but Birkenstock is ground zero for this current trend.

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It’s a grounded, very confident look. “Orthopedic-chic,” as I’ve heard it referred to, is a rejection of the sexy shoe (although we can LOVE BOTH, right?), an in-your-face, take me as I am, absolute self-confidence. “I am woman. Hear me roar: MY FEET FEEL GOOD!”  Women are craving comfort and fashion combined.

Berkeley and Birkenstocks; comfort and style; all merged on the concept that our eyes are now ready to see women confidently enjoying a versatile and comfortable sandal — any way they like. They’re not “fugly” any more.  No more jokes about hippies, please. This is not “Throwback Thursday” for us, it has always been our “raison d’être” at Shoes On Solano.  These sandals and how you personally sport them will send a signal to the world — these are no longer merely comfort shoes, it’s a bold new look.

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