Malaga airport departures lounge often resembles something of a one-act Jean-Paul Sartre play. A Friday night in June, as I queued to board a plane to Gatwick, was no exception. I was prepared for the screaming children; the beery men; the defeated, depleted hen parties. I was not prepared for the acres of sunburnt shin scored with tan line grids like butcher’s twine.
Gladiator sandals. Slowly, stealthily, they’ve made a case for themselves as the summer footwear of choice from Malaga to Milton Keynes. Forget flip-flops: gladiators are everywhere, clinging on to our calves in gold, black and tan; studded, bejewelled, knee-high; flat, heeled and wedged form. Kurt Geiger is up 53 per cent on sales of gladiators compared with this time last year; ASOS reports selling out within two weeks each time a style goes live; and John Lewis’s sales are rocketing, its £55 Weekend sandal up 171 per cent on last week.
Even the knee-high, This Is Sparta! styles are selling – once the preserve of editrixes such as Carine Roitfeld, the former Vogue Paris editor and one of a select few who can legitimately allocate diary space to strapping herself into 45cm of ankle-to-knee buckles. Sure, glads got a good airing on the spring/summer 2015 catwalks, snaking up legs at Valentino, Chloé, Alexander McQueen, and Erdem. But so did suede trench coats and tie-dye maxi dresses, and we didn’t fall for those.