The flip flop is an open-toed sandal that has a flat sole and y-shaped strap. The strap, which passes between the big and second toes and back to both sides of the foot, holds the sandal on the foot. Traditionally used as a casual shoe, the sound of flip flops are heard nearly everywhere these days. Most people do not know about the history of flip flops. Read further to learn more.
Even though most people think of flip flops as a modern invention, there are images of flip flop-like shoes on Egyptian murals dating back to 4,000 B.C. In fact, some experts believe this type of footwear has been around longer than that.
Ancient thongs, also known as flip flops, still survive. A pair of papyrus leaf flip flops is on display in the British Museum; they are from 1,500 B.C. People have made this type of shoe from a variety of materials. Papyrus leaves, palm leaves, leather, wood, sisal, rice straw and yucca plants are some of the materials used. Additionally, people throughout the ancient world wore this type of shoe.
The Japanese, during Heian period between 794-1185 B.C., used a flip flop type shoe called a zori. According to the Encyclopedia of History of Japanese Manners and Customs, Japanese children used these shoes when first learning to walk. Soldiers returning from World War II first brought these sandals to the United States. By the 1950s, flip flops became more popular and the older style sisal sandal changed. Natural materials gave way to fabricated materials. Manufacturers began making the shoe with rubber soles and straps that could be made in any color, and could be printed with designs.
By the 1960s, most people used flip flops exclusively for casual use. Those at the beach wore flip flops while walking from their vehicles to the beach to protect their feet from the hot sand. As these sandals became more popular, people began wearing them for less casual events. Now it is common to see people wearing them for formal events because new flip flops are dressier.
Another country that was instrumental in changing flip flops from the casual sandal to footwear ready for the red carpet is Brazil. The Havaianas was popular among peasants, housekeepers and others in San Paulo. Supermodels and actors are wearing flip flops. They are generally inexpensive, less than $10 a pair, but they can cost $150 or more depending the designer.
Flip flops have come a long way from their origins. In addition, while the basic shoe remains the same, this sandal has changed from the shoe worn by peasants to those in high society. Opponents of this type of footwear claim it causes flat feet, tendonitis and other injuries to feet, ankles and lower legs. These concerns aside, with over $45 billion in sales, it looks like the flip flop is here to stay.