Tarsorial Splendor

Attention, footwear fetishists! Sports sandals are hip soles for hip souls.

) They look like a cross between a dime-store thong and a ripped-up, stripped- down running shoe. Once the uncelebrated darling of Western college students, they are the coolest thing under your feet since Air Jordans and can cost nearly as much.

Sports sandals, this summer's must-have shoe, are now standard equipment for hikers, mountain climbers and even some skydivers. Like the fanny-pack and bike-shorts crazes of the 1980s, they had their origins in the great outdoors. The footwear was originally designed eight years ago by Mark Thatcher, a Colorado river outfitter who found athletic shoes too slippery and spongelike for...

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