The tale of two sandals
It is near impossible to walk down any street in the world these days and not see someone in flip flops! Whether you love them or hate them, these humble sandals have well and truly left their footprint in the sands of modern culture.
Origins of the flip flop
Although flip flops have become a staple fashion accessory for today’s society, evidence would suggest that the flip flop has older more ancient origins, dating back as far as the Stone Age. These early flip flops, or sandals as they would have been called, would have been made of papyrus, straw, rawhide and other available materials depending on the region. Their construction was very similar to todays flip flop, made up of a base, with attached straps extending from the sides and worn between the toes. Variations of these early flip flops can also be found within ancient African, Eastern & Egyptian cultures, prominently featured in Egyptian hieroglyphics and murals of the period.
These early flip flop concepts would have been referred to as sandals rather than the well loved term ‘flip flop’. This name derived from the sound that is made as the sandal ‘flips’ up against the bottom of the wearer’s foot!!
Designer Flip Flops – Early exposure
The flip flops initial introduction to modern culture was around the time of the Korean war in the 1950’s, when soldiers returned home with souvenir pairs of Zori, the traditional Japanese sandal, for their loved ones.
Early variations of the Japanese design were quickly developed using cheap rubber, but it wasn’t until the fifties Pop Culture explosion that the flip flop really took off. The flip flop was lovingly adopted into the Californian beach and surf culture in a multitude of bright colours & materials, as a casual & easy to wear alternative whilst combing the shores.
Undeniably, the major Brazilian producer Haviana, was one of the biggest influences in the conversion of this casual beach shoe to must-have designer accessory. A rags to riches story not unlike that of Levi blue jeans. Haviana have been producing flip flops for over 3 decades, which were originally worn by Sao Paulo housekeepers, dockworkers and peasants. Haviana transformed flip flops into everyday wear and beyond, as celebrities such as Kate Moss began to adopt the brand.
Our modern youth has undoubtedly transformed the casual fashion culture which has seen flip flops become part of the everyday dress code, alongside jeans, trainers and baseball caps.
Reports over the last couple of years have revealed that not everyone is ‘feeling the love’ for the designer flip flop! Foot surgeons have been blaming a rise in foot and ankle problems in the UK to pro-longed periods of wear and the lack of support provided by flip flops. With so many design and styles available on the market offering different levels of comfort and quality, I wonder if it is a fair assumption to tar the entire market with the same brush? The debate goes on….
Nevertheless, with a heritage stretching back as far this, it is highly unlikely that the flip flop will be disappearing from our wardrobes anytime soon!
For information on the heritage of our designer flip flops we are introducing a series of blogs about the endangered species such as the Giant Panda, that you can find on Beasts footwear flip flops. To read all about the Giant Panda follow this link.