It looks so much better this time.

By Laura Reilly
Jul 23, 2020 @ 5:06 pm
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By 2018, bushy brows had become the anchor of facial architecture lusted after far and wide. Models miraculously sprouted them, and even us plebes were making progress rehabbing our patchy versions. And then Rihanna did the cover for British Vogue with a set of thinner-than-thin pencilled-in arches and sent everyone spiralling.

Rihanna, apparently, has it in her nature to upend everything we think we know about style. She does so with so much grace and authority that it almost seems like her bids in the ever-evolving conversation called Fashion are more easily qualified as fact than opinion.

If you’re wondering how she’s chosen to toy with our sense of reality today, look no further than your shoe closet circa 2002, where no doubt a pair of extra-strappy gladiator sandals was hunched over. Rihanna’s fashion house, Fenty, has included in its latest shoe drop — a collaboration with viral shoe designer Amina Muaddi — lace-up heels that take us back to the days of straps that went all the way up our calves.

Obviously, there are a few significant things about this. The Rihanna-Muaddi link up is like a shoe obsessive’s fanfic turned reality. Muaddi’s Insta-famous flared heel has sent the celeb and style worlds scrambling to add the designer’s waitlist-backed shoes to their collections. But for this long-awaited collab with Fenty, Muaddi traded in her signature kick-flare heel for a cheeky nod to the early-’00s trend we didn’t see making a comeback.

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For pretty much the entire decade from 2000 to 2009, gladiator sandals were as much a staple in your wardrobe as jeans or a plain white button down. Everyone from the Olsen twins and Lindsay Lohan to Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna herself wore the calf-creeping strappy sandals to red carpet functions and coffee runs alike.

But because 10 years is a long time for any trend, by the time the 2010s rolled around, we collectively decided we should be investing our energy into wedges or dad shoes or whatever. Today, another 10 years later (and in the cursed year of 2020, of all years), Rihanna is once again writing history.

Fenty’s latest shoe drop includes a handful of exquisite wrap-up heel sandals that borrow from gladiator sandals of yore, but are much, much chicer than the downmarket versions that closed out the era. Extra-long straps made of tiny leather braids can be tied around the ankle and up the calf for a done-up finish. The styles were so popular that many have already sold out on Fenty’s website, but a portion of the collection thankfully just launched today on Farfetch, so there’s still a chance to buy.

Of course, since this is RIHANNA we’re talking about, most of the heels retail for just shy of $1,000. Whether your current budget allots for that kind of investment or not, there are still a few similar options available elsewhere that you can shop now to get ahead of the impending gladiator sandal revival.

Shop the Rihanna-approved gladiator sandals trend below.

Fenty Braid Me Up Sandals

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Shop now: $900; farfetch.com

Fenty Cowgirl Hookup Sandals

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Shop now: $960; farfetch.com

Vagabond Shoemakers Anni Ankle Tie Sandal

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Shop now: $100; nordstrom.com

Yuul Yie Trophy Lace-Up Sandals  

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Shop now: $190 (Originally $380); shopbop.com

Jimmy Choo Dusti Flat Sandal

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Shop now: $595; nordstrom.com

Marc Fisher Marina Lace-Up Sandal

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Shop now: $66 (Originally $110); nordstrom.com

Loq Roma Lace Up Sandals 

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Shop now: $350; shopbop.com

Kaanas Flamengo Lace-Up Sandal

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Shop now: $139; nordstrom.com

Kaanas Gladiator Sandal

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Shop now: $149; nordstrom.com

Madewell Ronda Boardwalk Lace Up Sandals  

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Shop now: $60; shopbop.com