Chloé's season-defining wedge sandals are finally available

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It's official: the wedge sandal is backJULIEN DE ROSA - Getty Images

The official revival of the wedge sandal can be traced to one single picture. At Chemena Kamali’s Chloé debut in March this year, the celebrity front row – which starred Sienna Miller, Liya Kebede, Pat Cleveland and Georgia May Jagger – sat wearing identical open-toe wedges. A powerful piece of product placement, it made a great photo (as you can see above) – a group of intergenerational women all working the same shoe in very different ways. Chunky with a relaxed Seventies edge, it offered a desirable blend of polished bohemia. After years of being on the bench, this much maligned shoe had found its footing again.

The popularity of Chloé’s Maxine platform was a tipping of the iceberg moment. Indeed, Dior has also released a wedge this season, dubbed the 'Attitude' shoe, available from 18 July. And there has been rumblings of a wedge renaissance for years – naturally, Prada was first, reissuing its cult 2012 flame style as part of its autumn/winter 2018 show. In more recent years, this once divisive design has been reinterpreted by a mix of buzzy contemporary brands such as Khaite, Amina Muaddi and Wandler, as well as the luxury heavyweights Gucci and Versace. “They transcend trends and complement every look,” says Wandler founder Elza Wandler, whose sleek Gaia sandal has been redeveloped with three straps for summer 2024. “The wedge taps into that quiet luxury aesthetic but also Sienna Miller boho chic. Our Gaia is a staple that you can wear throughout the year because of its slim and effortless design.”

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Sienna Miller at the Chloé show in MarchStephane Cardinale - Corbis - Getty Images

Interestingly, given how unfavourable they were among fashion circles, the wedge comeback has been openly embraced by shoppers. Online shopping destination Lyst reports that searches for wedges have increased by 75 per cent in the past six months. Espadrille styles are particularly in demand, with Versace’s Barocco iteration and Gucci’s Pilar classic leading the way. Over at Net-a-Porter, it’s a similar story with searches up by 75 per cent in the past three months, again with espadrilles proving the most popular.

There two aesthetic camps when it comes to the 'New Look' wedge. There’s the minimalism corner, featuring the streamlined versions of Wandler, Khaite and Rejina Pyo, then the opposing boho corner, starring Chloé, Castañer and Ancient Greek Sandals. Although visually different, they have more in common than would appear. Both are born from nostalgia – either the already pervasive Nineties minimalism or the rising return of Noughties bohemia. “The wedge trend is two-fold, either Nineties-inspired or bohemian chic,” agrees Net-a-Porter market director Libby Page. “As a pillar of boho style, the wedge signals the new era of boho which combines our love of the extraordinary everyday with the nostalgia of the early Noughties.”

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The Dior ’Altitude’ shoeCourtesy of Dior

Stylist Florrie Thomas, whose long-term love of a wedge reflects her bohemian aesthetic, says that whichever route you go down, it’s a shoe that delivers timelessness in spades. “They’re comfortable and practical, but also feminine and flattering,” she says. “A lot of the Noughties style that's coming back around celebrates sexuality in a soft and subtle way. The casual nonchalance and comfort of the wedge is such a great way of finishing that look off, still lengthening the leg without feeling as try-hard as a stiletto.”

wandler wedge sandal
Wandler’s Gaia sandalHearst Owned

“I have always been a huge fan of a wedge,” says Ancient Greek Sandals co-founder and creative director Christina Martini. “It gives you height, but also stability. Somehow it feels more casual than high heels yet still very feminine.” After a hugely positive customer response to the brand’s wedges last summer, Martini decided to not only update the offering for 2024, but also to collaborate with Castañer on a capsule line spotlighting the style. “With the wedge you don’t have to compromise,” she says. “It offers the perfect balance between comfort and elegance, especially if the line of the wedge is thin and delicate."

This, perhaps, is the crux of their appeal; that magic, elusive combination of practicality and style. The wedge has a contrary quality; either they can be sleek and modernist or bohemian and carefree. More relaxed than a spindly heel, the constant is their stability; it’s simply easier to navigate a grassy garden party, cobbled streets or country wedding in a sturdy wedge than a high or even kitten heel. “Aesthetics and function are very important,” says Elza Wandler. “At Wandler, we always aim to design shoes that are flattering, and elegant yet can be worn all day comfortably. The wedge delivers even extra comfort.”

Like denim-cut-offs or a little white dress, just the thought of a wedge sandal summons the idea of summer. Digging out a pair of wedges – particularly the cork or espadrille variety – is an instant reminder that sunshine is round the corner. It’s exactly this idea that inspired Rejina Pyo’s elegant Kyle style, which was based on imagining of the perfect holiday escape. A refined mule in either buttery snakeskin print or a crisp white, the design was created with versatility in mind. “It’s a classic silhouette that embraces a sense of individuality through their design and materials,” she explains. “I wanted them to feel timeless rather than trendy, yet versatile enough to be paired with all your summer outfits, whether casual or dressed up. I love the idea of pairing them with our structured summer tailoring or a relaxed twin print set, along with a crochet headscarf.”

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Jeremy Moeller - Getty Images

Everyone has a different idea about how to make the wedge work now, but the common thread is subtlety. Martini at Ancient Greek Sandals suggests wearing them with a pair of high-waisted, wide-leg jeans, so that only the toe straps are visible. Elza Wandler wears hers with a satin cream dress and a cropped leather jacket, while Florrie Thomas recommends pairing with understated separates avoiding fussy prints. “I saw a woman on holiday recently wearing a silk slip dress layered under an oversized cotton shirt with simple black raffia wedges for dinner and she looked so chic,” she says. "It's time for wedges to have their moment."

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