For many of us when we see a sign on the high street saying ‘flip-flops sandal for sale’ we take a quick detour, keen to see what ‘this’ seasons colour or finish will be available in our beloved flip-flops. There are now so many colours, metallic finishes, wedges, platforms and patterns available, that for many of us, flip-flops are ‘the’ shoe of the summer season and with them being relatively inexpensive, we can’t get enough of them!
But where do these form of sandals come from and how and when did they became so popular? Below I have listed some interesting facts about flip-flops that you never knew!
- They are the oldest form of footwear. There are images from rock paintings of prehistoric man wearing a type of toe thong!
- There is evidence of these form of sandals as an item of footwear in most civilisations. The funny thing though is that different civilisations often used different toes for the thong…The Greeks, for example, made use of the big toe; the Romans, the second toe; and the Mesapotanians, the third toe!
- They were known as Flip Flaps until the 1960’s.
- In America, they first started to appear after World War II as soldiers brought Japanese ‘zori’ (their word for flip-flops) back from the war, as souvenirs.
- They became popular in the US after the Korean War of the 1950’s and were made out of cheap rubber that caused terrible blisters!
- As popular culture took hold, they were made out of better rubber materials and became available in bright colours. They were seen as ‘the’ footwear for a relaxed lifestyle near the beach. Later they were adopted by hippies.
- As a cheap item of footwear, kids soon started to wear them to the pool and on holiday in bright colours with flowers and motifs adorning them.
- In the 1990’s with a more relaxed atmosphere in the workplace, flip-flops and their variations became acceptable. Now there can be variations in soling and upper material, with platform soles and soles that claim to tone your leg and bum muscles. These are all cashing in on the oldest form of footwear.
- Sales figures are hard to come by, but it is estimated that global flip-flop sales top $20 billion, that’s more than the trainer / sneaker market!
- The prolonged use of cheaper versions has been linked to all sorts of foot health problems. Wearing soft rubber versions that offer some inner arch support and have shock absorbing qualities are far better for the foot.
So, now you know some of the key facts about these special sandals! They have a great history from humble beginnings to becoming a worldwide fashion accessory. However, be sure not to let fashion dictate your decisions completely. Cheap version can cause damage to your feet so be sure to find sandals made from good quality materials and with well designed soles and support. In this way the success of the flip-flop will continue for many years in who knows what form..!