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  • Anne Heaney, Director

Is the Flip Flop Officially the New Dad Sneaker?


One of the latest fashion debates has surrounded the post-pedicure, poolside shoe of choice: flip flops. Despite being so divisise, the thong sandal seems to have won over the fashion world, with more approval than ever from fashion brands and tastemakers this season in particular. From Yeezy Season 8's PVC wedge and Simon Miller's kitten heel to the Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2019 lookbook and subsequent Vetements Spring 2020 runway, the flip flop resurgence has peaked.


Quite similar to the rise of the dad sneaker, getting here wasn't easy. Over the years, flip flops have crept into street style galleries and runway shows with increasing ubiquity. Today, even the Kardashians and fast-fashion retailers are embracing it (so you know it's real). This ugly non-fashion-turned-fashion sandal is officially summer's most hate-loved shoe — but how did we get here?


It was Brazilian brand Havaianas that unofficially invented the flip flop in 1962. The brand put a patent on the "sole with a strap, decorated by two parallel threads." While the style has remained a staple of beach vacations and quick dog walks, it never really became a full-blown fashion statement. Flash forward 57 years and these Havaianas flip flops were planted all over the streets of Copenhagen Fashion Week last summer. Big-name influencers like Pernille Teisbaek and Jeanette Madsen were photographed in the rubber slides, pairing them with Celine and JW Anderson.


Like any tried-and-true fashion trend, flip flops are trickling down into the mainstream. The master of fast-fashion footwear, Steven Madden, has been testing them this season with a few styles that are essentially versions of its originals from the 90's. "The 'barely there' trend is running hot this year, which has fueled the thong," says says Christina Ciglar, Steve Madden creative director of retail. "The timing is right for [it] to have made a comeback." The brand is excited to push the thong-style sandal through spring 2020.

While flip flops have clearly become a statement in fashion world, they are only a microtrend, falling under the umbrella of '90s and 2000s nostalgia. It goes beyond footwear and fits into this cultural phenomenon the internet generation has become obsessed with. First it was the dad sneaker, now it's the flip flop. This cyclical and ironic pattern has us looking back to predict: What ugly trend will explode next?

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