The Story Behind Flip Flops

The Story Behind Flip Flops


While it might be obvious as to why thong sandals are called "flip flops" or if you are like my two year old daughter she calls them "beep bops".

They earned their name by the sound they make as you walk, "flip" and "flops".  My burning question though, is who thought of creating a thong sandal? How did they come about?

Honestly, I've gotten more blisters from flip-flops than any other shoe, but why do I keep wearing them?  From college shower shoes, to after a grueling workout, quickly grabbing the mail, or dressed up for work are a few of the many occasions.  The answer is simple, flip-flops have a long and rich history.  Yes, there is history and style in a thong sandal!

Before we called them flip-flops, thong sandals have been worn for thousands of years.

One pair of thong sandals found in Europe was made of papyrus leaves and was thought to be close to 1,500 years old. They were worn in Jerusalem during Jesus's Era.  Early versions of flip-flops were made from a wide variety of materials such as plants like papyrus and palm leaves.

Thong sandals were interpreted differently in various parts of the world.  For example, the Masai of Africa created flip flops from animal rawhides and were made out of wood in Countries like India.

In the United States, flip flops gained popularity in the 1950s after the Korean War tensions.  As they became part of our mainstream fashion culture, flip-flops were beginning  to look like what we know of them today.  They quickly became popular because their ease comfort and were quickly gaining ground as summer shoes.  During the 1960s, flip-flops were part of the daily the beach lifestyle in California. They rapidly caught on and were selected as the casual accessory of choice, typically worn with shorts, bathing suits, or summer dresses. As they became popular, they were worn for more dressy or formal occasions and there was controversy over this choice in footwear.

They became popular summer footwear amongst men and women during the 1960s, 1990s, and 2000s, and some varieties have even found their way into more formal attire.

In 1962, Alpargatas (Brazilian Company) designed a version of flip-flops known as Havaianas and were very popular in Brazil.  Alpargatas is mostly well known for Havaianas and Timberlands (parent company) and can be found at most major retailers.

By 2010, more than 150 million pairs of Havaianas were produced each year and flip-flops quickly became popular as casual footwear for young men and women from teenager to college aged.  Women would often decorate their flip-flops with metallic finishes, charms, chains, beads, rhinestones, or other jewelry.  Designer flip-flops made of leather or advanced materials are commonly worn in place of sneakers or loafers.  If you are like me, you stock up on multiple pairs because they are so easy to wear and great casual footwear.  Although flip-flops appear to attract a young generation, they are worn by various ages.

As a side note, you can buy Havianas in vending machines in Japan.

I do think it's best to invest in a good pair of flip flops because they are not the most comfortable shoes.  The sturdier the sole, and thong the happier your feet will be.  I have invested in some really expensive flip flops and i always stick to Havianas or Reefs for long periods of walking.

Its safe to say that flip flops aren't going anywhere.  They are easy to throw on, can be cute at a moments notice, and even open bottles for you (check out the bottom of Reefs).  Who said fashion can't have function?!  So sit back relax and enjoy the sound of flip flops this summer  because they are a fixture of our hot summer days!

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