History of Havaianas, rubber flip flops

Since Jennifer Lawrence also took them off for the red carpet, causing a viral reaction in all corners of the globe, it can be said that flip flops are enjoying a new golden age. If flip flops, like elegant sandals, were already back last summer with leather designs with minimal 90s elegance, today we’re back to basics: summer shoes are flip flops, beach flip flops, low, colorful and rubber. In a word, Hawaiians. One of those cases where a product becomes so distinctive that it merges with the brand itself, one of those designs that has been able to penetrate so deeply into the daily lives of customers that it crosses trends, social classes and entire generations, always remaining current, a true modern icon. which alone carries the imaginary, consisting of long white beaches, sunsets, palm trees and surfboards.

"anatomy d'une chute fall anatomy" Red carpet at the 76th Cannes Film Festival

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A symbol of summer everywhere in the world, as well as shoes of humble origin. The history of Havaianas begins in 1962 in Brazil, but the inspiration comes from Asia: in fact, the Brazilian company Alpargatas was inspired by traditional sandals. dawns originally from Japan to create the first flip flops of the modern world. The oriental design seemed innovative, fresh and practical, but there was a problem: the materials – straw and fabric – were not suitable for the tropical climate of Brazil, in order to withstand humidity and heavy rains, a resistant and waterproof solution was required, namely rubber. . Hawaiians were created as shoes for workers, workers, ordinary people, but soon conquered all Brazilians. This is the merit of the marketing campaign: in the spirit of hippies and wandering spirit sixties, the brand purchases Volkswagen vans, paints them with the Havaianas logo, and drives around Brazil, from the big cities to the most remote corners separated by rainforest. What happens from this moment is unprecedented: the Hawaiians are so versatile that not only after just two years they are at the feet of all workers in Brazil, but within twenty years the government itself eventually includes them among the essentials. . like rice and beans.

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Now that everyone has at least a couple of Havaianas, a new problem arises: what should make people want to buy more? The answer is to take a quantum leap from necessity to trend, and then step into the slippery terrain of fashion. To model Traditional -with white sole and colored straps- Vertex, originally offered in a wide range of single color options, and then enriched with a thousand different prints. The main design line becomes something like a white table, an occasion for creativity in terms of colors, combinations and individual style. The audience starts to expand at the expense of local, then international celebrities and that’s it. So we’ve come to the nineties, when Hawaiians are experiencing a golden age around the world: these are the coolest shoes of the summer, the new essential classics, and to cement their fame and elevate them to the level of a fashion-worthy accessory, with Capital “M”, there are also collaborations with luxury brands.

Jean Paul Gaultier spring 1999 ready-to-wear runway show

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The first to notice its potential could only be an avant-garde artist like Jean-Paul Gaultier, who paraded models in New York and Paris in 1999 wearing Havaianas flip-flops, pairing them with unstructured looks and immediately generating a wave of interest among insiders. Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik, Mary Katrantzou, Charlotte Olympia, Simone Rocha: Collaboration has skyrocketed over the years, and among dizzying platforms, crystals and rainbows, pearls and floral details, they all offered their own variations on the theme – not only brands, but also also celebrities such as Naomi Campbell or more recently Barbie Ferreira, who launched a capsule collection for the summer of 2023.

Jennifer Aniston in New York, May 25, 2006.

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And yet, there are many flip flops. What makes Havaianas so special? First, like any self-respecting icon, the secret formula: if most slippers are made of EVA, then the composition of Havaianas is masterfully guarded by the parent company, it is only known that this is a mixture of rubbers, which they are. Manufactured locally and 40% of each pair is made from recycled materials. Another secret to success – and the most obvious one – is the deep connection they have with their place of origin. In fact, although their name is associated with Hawaii – in the sixties the most beloved tourist destination of Brazilians – Hawaiians have become the emblem of Brazil: they represent its colors, its vibrant atmosphere, its relaxed and festive atmosphere, its free spirit, which is an infectious energy that makes everyone want to join the party. And for the local population, they remain a success story, a source of national pride, a symbol of identification.

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