Fashion Bets the ‘90s Jelly Sandal Is Summer’s Hottest Shoe Trend

Yes, the nostalgic jellies style lives on.

Model wearing The Row's mara jelly sandal flat in red walking on wood
(Image credit: The Row, Ancient Greek Sandals. Getty Images)

It was the sandal heard worldwide at The Row's Summer 2024 show, held last September in Paris. The collection opened with a model in ruby-red rubber mesh sandals, giving off the all-too-recognizable squelchy sound that can be attributed to just one shoe: the jelly sandal pulled right out of the '90s fashion vault.

PVC slip-ons followed, some completely transparent, others bright aqua and baby pink. But these weren’t the squishy shoes you wore with butterfly hair clips and baby tees as a tween. These were the even better versions of your best jelly sandals—more like elegant, rubberized, beach-friendly ballet flats.

Following their runway debut, The Row's caged silhouette—called the Mara Flat—went viral within the fashion bubble. Show-goers who witnessed them first-hand anointed them a top accessory trend of summer 2024. Retail consultant and author of Substack’s Sarah's Retail Diary, Sarah Shapiro, recalls her circle of industry friends buzzing with projections on how fast the luxury sandal would sell out. Meanwhile, author and fashion arbiter Leandra Medine Cohen predicted they would be the season's most prolific silhouette. "The jelly glove-style flats that appeared on The Row's [Summer 2024] runway will be the greatest [trend] explosion we will face this summer," she wrote in a recent edition of her newsletter, The Cereal Aisle. We are about to have, Medine Cohen prophecized, a very jelly summer.

Three models walking in The Row's Summer 2024 show wearing the jelly Mara Flats in red, blue, and clear.

The jelly Mara Flat making its debut in The Row's Summer 2024.

(Image credit: Courtesy of The Row)

Their insider instincts were correct: The Row’s clear jelly sandals hit retailers a few weeks ago at $890 a pop, and all four colorways promptly sold out across the Internet.

But the Olsens aren't the only ones reviving the ‘90s jelly sandal. Ancient Greek Sandals launched the Iro Jelly Ballerina earlier this spring. A rubber netted slip-on offered in a creamsicle orange, electric lavender, and Caribbean waters turquoise. Meanwhile, Brazilian footwear label Melissa sells a variety of caged rubber flats in its signature 100 percent recyclable PVC, ranging from textured ballerinas to clear jelly sandals in fisherman-style weaves.

Part of their smash-hit potential is the inherent nostalgia of a jelly shoe, which takes you back to the era of Tamagotchi pets and Spice Girls world tours. The other is their utility, inherently waterproof and ventilating.

Model Xie Chaoyu wears a blue shirt, white skirt, jelly sandals, and a black origami swan bag during London Fashion Week September 2018 on September 16, 2018 in London, England.

The street style crowd is already test-driving summer's jelly sandal trend—as seen with this London Fashion Week guest's clear T-strap and caged pair.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Plus, as Shapiro points out, they're a natural evolution of an existing shoe trend dominating the market: “If you think about the popularity of the mesh ballet flats from Summer 2023, you can follow the through-line that leads to [net jelly flat],” the retail expert shares over email. For those who've been on board with sock-like lattice slippers (coincidentally, another style produced by The Row), a caged jelly slip-on isn't too far of a leap.

Ahead, Marie Claire rounded up the best options out there for your summer shoe collection, including low-vamp ballerina flats, strappy sandals, and water-resistant pool slides. Jelly, set, go!

Shop the Key Jelly Flats for Summer

As you wait for The Row's Mara to come back in stock, or if you want to try a pair without the designer price tag, Ancient Greek Sandal's Iro style and Melissa's Fisherman sandal are good alternatives. Take pointers from a younger version of yourself and wear the shoes alongside other 1990s trends that are resurgent, like capri pants or a gauzy slip dress. Alternatively, your best linen pants and a breezy button-down will suffice.

More Jelly Sandals to Consider

Here, an extra edit of jelly shoes for your summer shopping consideration. Tory Burch’s T-strap jelly sandals would pair well with denim trousers and an eyelet lace blouse. Whereas Valentino’s jelly sandals embellished with metallic studs are a must-bring on any upcoming seaside getaways.

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, who writes everything from trend reports to fashion featurettes and long-form profiles. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, writing shopping e-commerce guides, assisting with market for fashion photo shoots, and assigning and editing fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center. When she's not writing fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking in her tiny NYC kitchen.