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June 4, 2009 6:08 PM

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Accessories Trend: Saltwater Frenzy

An array of colorful Saltwater sandals.photo by Thomas Iannaccone As WWD's senior accessories editor, each season I see the best of the best. But my latest accessories discovery wasn't from a chic Parisian salon, slick Milan runway or hip...

An array of colorful Saltwater sandals.
photo by Thomas Iannaccone
As WWD's senior accessories editor, each season I see the best of the best.

But my latest accessories discovery wasn't from a chic Parisian salon, slick Milan runway or hip downtown New York showroom; rather, it came from the playgrounds and play spaces of Queens and Brooklyn.

I first noticed the colorful Saltwater sandals on a mom in a park in Sunnyside, Queens, not where I usually find fashion inspiration.

Then I spotted a junior-size pair at my daughter's gymnastics center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (OK, maybe you can find some hipster style happening there).

Finally, when I saw the third pair in the course of a week on my friend Julia, who is stylish in an I-don't-follow-trends kind of way, at a ballet recital in Flushing, Queens, I had to ask, "Who makes your sandals?"

It turns out they are the aforementioned Saltwater sandals. The brand dates back to the Forties when an English-American shoemaker, Walter Hoy, had the idea to use scrap leather from the making of military boots for sandals. After a few patent attempts, the brand was born, originally called Sun-San sandals. They were and still are made to be worn in water (salt or fresh), are machine washable and will conform to your foot as they dry. They have lived on through generations, as those who wore them as kids seek them as adults for their children, too.
A mother-daughter set.
photo by Thomas Iannaccone

The company credits the resurgence of interest in the shoes partly to Suri Cruise, who has been photographed in them. They are priced at $29.95 and $34.95; they come in a rainbow of colors, including bright patents, and they cater to those who crave vintage.

And Saltwater sandals are still made in the good old U.S. of A. These days you can get them in New York at Sweet William in Brooklyn as well as Calypso, among other stores (or online at mysaltwatersandals.com).

At first I thought that I must be the only fashion person who was living under a giant platform and hadn't noticed them, but when I took an informal poll around my office, only one person out of 20 recognized them. She wore them as a child!

But I think fashion folk may become as obsessed with them as I am. And if the company called on shoe whizzes like Pierre Hardy, Bruno Frisoni or Christian Louboutin to do a collaboration, they would go downright crazy over them!

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