Ten Toes Up for Ars Summer Sandal Collection

A small-batch line of handmade kicks

ars sandals!

We haven’t been this excited about shoes since we learned to tie our own. Tonight marks the debut of Ars, an intriguing limited-edition collection conceived and crafted by five designers (Ars is Latin for skill and a play on the word ours).

Using the prompt “simple unisex sandal” — and taking cues from menswear designs crossing over into women’s footwear — the group created a tight, cohesive line (just five styles total for men and women) of smashing summer kicks. We spoke to the wunderkinds (four are SAIC students/grads; one is an SAIC professor) about their inspiration, processes, and plans for the future. Below, a breakdown of each design.

1. Cozumel
Lead designer and SAIC student Anneli Henriksson’s triple-strap stunner with blue and black pony hair and buttery brown leather harkens back to the beatniks (it’s inspired by a photo from the ’50s). Wear it and conjure images of the open road.

2. Lovelace
This puppy’s a real hussy. Henriksson’s second design — a novelty shoe, named for the porn star — is decked out with functional zipper lips (for storing cash or prophylactics — we kid). For girly men and girls alike.

3. Dash
James Sommerfeldt’s (the life force behind Ars; a shoe designer and professor of the footwear design program at SAIC) seemingly simple, electric blue strappy shoe leaves no room for flip flopping. As a rule, he pushed the group to eliminate toe movement in their designs. Lack of stitching means no painful breaking-in process (read: blisters); over time, they’ll mold to your foot.

4. Nobu
If a loafer married an open-toe sandal, you’d get Nobuki Chiwata’s design. The soft leather stretches with the foot; elastic around the toes makes for comfortable walking (and digit fidgeting).

5. Ola
Recent SAIC fashion grad Caroline Kuhlman’s all-white number is a mashup of Nobu and Dash: It starts out like a sandal, morphs into a laceless oxford, and returns to a sandal up top. Brilliant. Your foot won’t move an inch.

Up next: a fall line including ankle boots, flats, and tall boots.

Tonight we suggest buying one — or, heck, one of each.

Depending who foots the bill.

Available at Dovetail, 1452 West Chicago Avenue, between Greenview Avenue and Noble Street (312-508-3398 or dovetailchicago.com), $100-$200.

Photos: Courtesy of Ars

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1452 W Chicago Ave
bt Greenview Ave & Noble St
Chicago, IL 60642