May 02, 2008 06:00 AM

Sandals, for me, have always signified summer and now that I’m a mom there’s not much I enjoy more than liberating my kids’ feet from their stuffy sneakers and snow boots at the first sign of warm weather.  While I didn’t think it was physically possible for me be more excited about summer than I am this year, Umi Shoes has gone and made the impossible, possible.  The brand that’s loved by celebrity babies like Joaquin Consuelos, 5, Harry Letterman, 4 1/2, and Violet Affleck, 2 1/2, recently unveiled its new styles for spring/summer 2008 and if they don’t make you desperate for a little sunshine — nothing will.     

Umi provided us with boy styles Finnigan ($50, shown at left) and Rambler ($53, shown below right). 

Sam has been puttering around the house in his Finnigans with ease, because unlike some sandals with an overly-chunky sole it has a nice, grippy bottom that doesn’t dominate the shoe and make walking difficult.  With a new walker, its been our experience that a thick sole creates more problems than it solves; The sole of Finnigan is sturdy but not overpowering.  The pebble grained chocolate leather was totally soft to the touch and flexed easily with his feet.  I love baby shoes that have a broken-in feel right out of the box, and these sandals definitely have that feel!  The shoe is easy on/off, for the entire upper comes undone courtesy of one large velcro opening.  Besides chocolate, Finnigan is available in black pebble grained leather, and both colors come in European sizes 19-24.  If this marks your little guy’s first summer on the move, Finnigan is a great choice.  It’s a well-made sandal that is easy to maneuver in, but looks so charming that you’ll want to stow it away in a keepsake box forever. 

Rambler is a great sandal for your running/skipping/jumping/tree-climbing toddler…The only place this little guy walks is to the dentist chair.  You know the type!  It’s a sporty sandal prepared for lots of action, with a flexible rubber (non-marking) sole that is super grippy and sure to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, exactly where you want them to be!  Rambler’s padded collar and cushioned footbed offer added protection from the shock of all that activity and the leather upper is easy for a toddler to get on and off, courtesy of two velcro straps.  I really, really like Rambler’s simple lines.  We tested it in black/olive genuine leather, and at a time when boy sandals are increasingly being gunked up with straps/buckles/flashing lights, etc. etc., Rambler is clean and classic.  It is available in European sizes 23-36. 

Umi also provided us with two girl styles new for spring/summer 2008 — Barocca ($55, shown at left) and Sage ($53, shown below right).

We loved Barocca.  It’s a graceful summer sandal that’s both dainty and sturdy at the same time.  The leather is supple, but not so soft that it fails to support the foot.  Barocca has a stitched down leather sole that’s just as flexible as the boy styles we tested and definitely feels as though it will easily break-in quickly with regular use.  We sampled Barocca in white, and it’s a really pleasing shade — not that jarring bright white you see on so many other summer sandals.  The bottom portion of the sole is rubber for added traction and Barocca is a versatile sandal.  Available in European sizes 27-34, it looks as good with a pair of shorts as it will with a dress or skirt.   

Last but certainly not least, we tested the Sage sandal.  Scalloped edging, applique flowers and accent stitching help daintify this leather upper sandal, which still has all the functional features that Umi has to offer — including a flexible rubber outsole for good grip and a soft, padded insole.  Double hook and loop closure make Sage easy on/off and also helps to guarantee a secure fit.  Sage is available in European sizes 19-24.   

To purchase these sandals, or any of Umi’s other styles, click here

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