If you have been anywhere near the shops recently you will have noticed that apart from a growing throng of shoppers, there has been something of a thong explosion. Thong sandals, that is. In every possible colour, heel height, and style variation: Gucci have even done a version for men to wear this summer.

For many, the idea of wearing a thong sandal causes dismay. The bit that is supposed to anchor the sandal to the foot often chafes away at our poor English feet. Feet that have been imprisoned all winter in heavy boots and shoes. But if you want the look without the pain, Birkenstock, the company that made Jesus sandals cool attire, (with a little help from Kate Moss) may well have the answer.

Aside from opening a flagship store in London's Covent Garden this month, Birkenstock has also introduced a trend-based line of sandals called Papillio, (previously only available through mail order in this country.) And nestled between the camouflage, acid bright, and pastel-coloured Papillio Birkies is their own version of the thong, which comes in three styles and a wide range of colours. With a moulded rubber sole, a "contoured for your feet" insole, and soft leather to encase the foot, they are very comfy to wear. The often offending thong bit is moulded for your toes too, so it doesn't hurt a bit. This I can promise because I have been wearing a pair for the past hour, (just for you) and I think I may have found a good reason to paint my toes this summer.

'Sparta' thong sandals, pounds 56.95, available in white, brown and black from the Papillio range by Birkenstock. Available from the Birkenstock Shop, 37 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. The new mail order catalogue is available on 0800 132 194.