New Icons: Rick Owens’ Techno-Gladiators

A Reinvention of an Ancient Staple Is Equipped for Dance Floor and Everyday Combat

New Icons celebrates the stories behind particularly notable pieces from this season.

The gladiator sandal boasts one of the longest of all fashion careers. Older than Jesus and bigger than Birkenstock, the footwear classic enjoys enduring popularity because it allows for constant reinvention. High or low, in earth tones or shiny metallics, flat or heeled, it suits Olympian gods, ancient rebel leaders, and savvy cosmopolitans alike. One of this season’s most visionary takes on the sandal has been delivered by Rick Owens, a designer known for a singular blend of ascetic tribalism and Brutalist aesthetics. It comes as no surprise, then, that the gladiator sandal is his springtime go-to. In his hands, it receives a futuristic makeover geared towards the techno-nomad.


While his textile rendition trades in minimalist chic, Owens’ sandal stays true to its core concept by providing its wearer with the utilitarian wearability required by a warrior. Its Velcro closure supplies additional ease, while Owens’ signature molded Island sole guarantees maximum flexibility. But the true highlight of this design has to be its pockets at the outer ankles. They are a dream come true for ravers and all manners of contemporary citizens. If you like to travel light, an extra pocket is a game-changer. By adding one to the cargo sandal, Owens does the impossible and pioneers a clubwear staple. Kiss your cinch-bag goodbye, right along with its lacking sense of rhythm! After all, if clothing is everyday armor, as Owens seems to suggest, it has to accommodate a variety of everyday battles.

  • Text: Bianca Heuser
    Photography: Nik Mirus / L'ELOI
    Styling: Oliver Stenberg / L'ELOI