Flip Flops

In footwear and fashion, flip-flops are a kind of flat, backless sandal that consist of simple soles held on the foot by a V-shaped strap that passes between the toes and around either side of the foot, attached to the sole at three points, commonly known as the thong strap. They appear to have been developed out of traditional Japanese woven or wooden soled sandals in New Zealand.

Regional Differences

This sandal is known by different names in different areas:

  • In New Zealand English they are known generically as jandals (Japanese Sandals), a name used by one manufacturer. However intellectual property law prevented the term Jandals being used when sold in other countries.
  • In Australian English these are known as thongs or pluggers, and often are referred to as an Australian Icon.
  • In the United States, they are generally known as flip-flops, thongs, beach walkers, zories or go-aheads (especially rubber thongs).
  • In South Africa they are also known as slops.
  • In Hawaii, flip-flops are known as slippers.
  • In Indonesia, they are known as sandal jepit (or sometimes sendal jepit).
  • In Brazil, they are known as sandálias and, sometimes, are called havaianas (hawaiians), which is the most popular popular product of this genre in the country

Uses and Fashions

Flip-flops periodically became a fashion rage in the West and in Europe. Although they are associated with the beach or swimming pool, they are immensely popular as everyday casual shoes in many situations, especially with teenagers and young adults. Flip-flops are available in a wide variety of materials such as leather, transparent plastic, rubber and wood, with prices ranging from under US $1 to over US $300.

In developing countries, especially in the tropics, rubber flip-flops are the cheapest manufactured footwear available. In some places, domestically-produced sandals are available for the equivalent of less than US$1. Despite their disposable design, street vendors will repair worn sandals for a small fee. Sometimes flip-flops are made of recycled rubber tires, lowering the cost even more. They are the footwear of choice for indigent workers, being worn for farming, construction, and other heavy manual work.

Flip flops are also popular with barefooters when they have to wear shoes since they allow the foot to be out in the open but still constitute a shoe. They are also popular because they are easy to bring in a backpack or purse because of their flat design.

Although one of the most humble forms of footwear, many people consider flip-flops comfortable. Flip-flops tend to conform to the foot structure of the wearer.

Some people like to wear the sandals every day. Unfortunately, flip-flops are often not very sturdy and the straps may snap after moderate use (this is known as a "blow out"). They can be fixed, but many people choose to just buy new ones, discarding of the old ones. The average life expectancy of a pair is perhaps only a year or so. A pair rarely lasts more than a couple of years before being rendered into trash.

The term "flip-flop" derives from the rhythmic slapping noise that the sandals make while slapping against the wearer's heels and the floor as he or she walks. In recent years, flip-flops have become a popular fashion statement, especially among high school and college age males and females. They seem to be worn with almost any combination of clothing, and some regular users even wear them in the wintertime. They are most commonly worn in the summertime, usually with shorts, but sometimes by women with capri pants or men with jeans.

In late July 2005, some members of Northwestern University's national champion women's lacrosse team were criticized for wearing flip-flops to the White House to meet with President George W. Bush. Many weighed in on this controversy including Meghan Cleary, a footwear expert, who felt that a flip-flop denoted that the team was feeling very casual in the White house and suggested a closed-toe option instead for instances where decorum was observed. Cleary was cited on MSNBC's Connected: Coast to Coast program as saying the flip-flop flap indicated a cultural shift similar to when blue jeans were first worn in public.

Flip-flops are the stripped down essence of foot wear — essentially a thin rubber sole with two simple straps running in a Y from the sides of the foot to the join between the big toe and next toe. Popular use of flip-flops as simple warm climate beach or outdoor wear has spread through much of the world, although it is most common in Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific Islands, and East Asia.

The use of flip-flops has also been encouraged in some branches of European and North American military as sanitary footwear in communal showers, where wearing flip flops slows the spread of fungal infections. Following on from this, some soldiers and other trampers or hikers have begun carrying flip-flops, or a pair of flip-flop soles sewn to socks, as a light weight emergency replacement for damaged boots.

Indeed, the Indian manifestation of the flip-flop, the chappal, has even been known to be deployed as a weapon, both as a truncheon and a missile, although it is more commonly merely a threat. It is not unheard of for people to whip off their chappals in the heat of an argument, in order to make their aggravation more palpable to the other party.

Flip-flops were inspired by the traditional woven soled zori or "Japanese Sandals", (hence "jandals"). Woven Japanese zori had been used as beach wear in New Zealand in the 1930s, (and according to one source, called Jandals then); in the austere immediate post war period in both New Zealand and America versions were briefly popularised by servicemen returning from occupied Japan, but the idea of making them from rubber or the relatively new compund plastic does not appear to have occurred for another decade. The modern design was invented in Auckland, New Zealand by Maurice Yock in the 50's and patented in 1957.

Despite being commonly used to describe any manufacturer's Jandals, the word Jandal has been a trademark since 1957, for a long time owned by the Skellerup company. At one point a competitor sold Jandels. In countries outside the Pacific, jandals have, for intellectual property reasons, become known by other names, for example Thongs in Australia, where the first pair were manufactured by Skellerup rival Dunlop in 1960, or Flip-Flops (UK and US).

In New Zealand, the phrase "to handle the jandal" is a common idiom. As an example, Barry can't handle the jandal indicates that the subject Barry is incapable of dealing with his particular situation.

Flip-flops in popular culture

Flip-flops have come to be seen as an important item of Kiwiana, and are often referenced in New Zealand and Pacific Island Culture. A Jandal designed to be posted and sent through the mail was produced as a gimmick to send overseas. Jandals can be seen in:

  • the cartoon Footrot Flats, where farming characters like Wal and Rangi wears them, when not wearing gumboots
  • the Naked Samoans inspired television family, the Samesis, where Mrs. Samesi's usual method of showing displeasure is a well-aimed jandal
  • in wearable art, a number of up-market and quirky jandal designs have appeared, (while a dress made out of jandals appeared on a Drag Queen in the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)
  • in the cartoon sitcom Bro'Town, where characters frequently wear jandals, and in the episode, "The Wong One", jandals were used as a Kung Fu weapon
  • in the lyrics of King Kapisi, "I'm goin' stompin, in my big Pacific Island jandals" and in his music videos, (in one of which jandals were used to take bids at a sheep auction)
  • The Golden Jandal, alternative NZ Music award, (given at Handle the Jandal)
  • NZ culture news and links site, "Dag and Jandal".
  • NZ TV series Jandals Away.
  • At the closing ceremony for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Kylie Minogue was carried into the stadium on a giant thong to perform "On a Night Like This".
  • In the Online MRPG VMK green flips are one of the most sought after items
  • A popular campaign theme for the Republican Party was to label 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry as indecisive on the issues, or a "flip-flopper." Delegates at the 2004 Republican National Convention could be seen waving flip-flops.
  • In movie It's All Gone Pete Tong, flip flops are one of the main motive and major figure of DJ Frankie Wilde said "Flip flop is to me perfection."
  • In 2005, the Northwestern Women's Lacrosse team had a photograph taken with President George W. Bush. The photo raised significant controversy because several of the women wore flip-flops in the picture, sparking a debate over proper attire in youth culture.

Source: Wikipedia

Why Flip Flops Are The Greatest Sandal

The flip flop sandal is a sole that attaches to the foot with a v-shaped thong that attaches on either side of the foot and between the big toe and the second toe. There is no strap at the back of the foot, so the sandal moves up and down against the foot as you walk. This action gives the sandal the name "flip flop" for the action. It is primarily footwear for warm beaches and pool sides. They originate from Japanese woven sandals that caught on in New Zealand. Flip flops are popular among young males and females. They can be worn with any combination of clothing because of their simplicity. The typical outfit includes jeans and flip flops along with almost any top. In warm climates, they are everyday attire to some people's dismay. It appears that flip flops are seen as the most informal form of footwear. This was made a public issue in 2005 when Northwestern University's women's lacrosse team won the national championship and was asked to visit the white house. Their attire included flip flops, which was the subject of many news reports there after. It was concluded that flip flops had made there presence known much like when blue jeans first emerged in the mainstream acceptability. For everyday wear, flip flops are criticized for falling apart, particularly where the strap between the toes meets the sole. This is due to the fact that they are originally a beach shoe that was not worn on a regular basis. Anyone who wished to wear flip flops everyday could purchase new ones regularly because of their inexpensive pricing. Today, there are many flip flops of better quality and do not fall apart for many years. This quality has also helped the sandal become an everyday piece of footwear. Besides style, flip flops serve purposes of health concerns. When wearing flip flops there is a much less chance of getting a fungal infection like athlete's foot. It has also become standard footwear of military soldiers and college students in communal showers where it also offers protection against fungal infection. The flip flop is a sandal that has stood the test of time, and it appears that they are here to stay for now.

David Stone is a regular contributor of articles to various online publications. Find more great information about sandals at http://www.sandalsres.com/

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