How bowling shirts and slides became the hottest summer trend

The pool slide is summer's new manly obsession – a backless slip-on shoe that's giving guys an alternative to mandals (yes, that's a man sandal) and thongs in a bid to be the new hero on deck.

In the early '70s, Adidas released a shower slide in navy and white stripes for the sport stud, but these days in the lap of luxury brands, the pool slide has morphed into something far more superior.

Now, the controversial style has fast become a summer go-to, replacing the ubiquitous thong – which just doesn't cut it for smart casual. Or any casual. And not even Karl Lagerfeld's description of "Chanel's thong in chic" he sent models down the runway wearing them last year can convince us otherwise.

Status anxiety

From Gucci's signature green and red stripes to Off White's black and white pair with the words OFF and WHITE screaming for your attention, it's about status and luxury branding where everyone's in on the deal. In fact, the bigger your '80s logo makeover the better – all in the name of fashion of course.

Add to that fellow Italians Prada and Fendi – who initiated the footwear craze last year when they sent models down the runway for SS18 resort collections – the slip-on has slowly infiltrated nearly every major menswear label in one way or another.

From Tom Ford's velvet slides and chain trimmed ones to Balenciaga's leather varieties – pool slides are loud, proud and often have little or nothing to do with actually wearing them by the pool or lounging around.

In fact, you're just as likely to spot some slides as an alternative choice to luxury sneakers in warmer climates and can be worn with chinos, shorts or jeans for casual cool.


In another throwback for summer, it's all eyes on the iconic 1950s bowling shirt with Gucci leading the way of its renaissance. The Italian fashion house gives it a modern twist, adding a shimmer-shake to their version of a bowling shirt with a hint of embroidery. Its boxy cut is designed to be worn, loose, over your pants or shorts and comes with a small lay flat collar, top button left undone.

French label Lanvin offers a silk two-toned bowling shirt and stick to the original intentions of the design complete with piping, while other brands borrow from its Hot Rod and rockabilly roots for a triple malt effect in their catwalk gloss over.  


Other versions on the scene celebrate floral prints (Jack London on the local front) while fellow Aussie Calibre keeps it monotone. According to Ty Henschke from Calibre, the brand's decision to introduce the style was strengthened by the fact it worked perfectly for our relaxed aesthetic.

"We love the bowling shirt and this season we're call it the Cuban collar," says Ty Henschke.

"It's a great relaxed boxy fit and we have done them in silk for soft drape - the perfect dressy piece for hot summer nights," he says.

Check out the gallery above to see the best pool-side gear to rock this summer.