The French Riviera’s most exclusive destination was just a quaint fishing hamlet when Jacques Keklikian arrived in 1933 and started making footwear for the local tradesmen. His hand-stitched leather sandals were so resilient that the pêcheurs could wear them into the sea without a care. As St.-Tropez gained glamour points in the 1950’s and 60’s, so did K. Jacques’s tropeziennes (sightings of Brigitte Bardot frolicking in a pair on the shores of her adopted hometown didn’t hurt). Around that time, Jacques’s son Georges traveled to Rome, and voilà—the gladiator, with its signature straps, was introduced. The style quickly became a hit, and has remained a top seller ever since. Today, the company’s original atelier on Rue Allard also does bespoke work for the likes of Angelina Jolie and Jack Nicholson, with more than a hundred looks ranging from patent flats to bejeweled heels. Chances are you couldn’t think up a flourish they haven’t already.
Made in St.-Tropez for the past 75 years, the K. Jacques gladiator sandal is as chic as the Côte d’Azur itself.