The Havaianas flip-flop was created in 1962, inspired by traditional Japanese sandals. Its simplicity, durability and low price has made it a staple and ‘fundamental product’ in its home country of Brazil.
Havaianas is Brazilian for ‘Hawaiians’ – and the name of the biggest flip-flop brand in the world. Inspired by traditional Japanese zori sandals, these rubber flip-flops with a sole texture imitating rice straw were created by Scotsman Robert Fraser in 1962 and patented four years later. Their simplicity, durability and low price spoke to the masses and soon Havaianas became a basic part of Brazilians’ lives. In 1980 the Brazilian government listed the sandals as fundamental products to control inflation – just like rice and beans.
At first, the sandals were only available in a white-and-blue design but a manufacturing error that produced a batch of green Havaianas turned out to be a success, and so the colour range was expanded. When the monochrome Top model was introduced in the 1990s, the brand’s association with the poorer classes diminished. From a household staple for the working class, Havaianas reached new social circles and became a fashionable item featured on runways and worn by celebrities around the world.
Today, Havaianas’ sandals are available in dozens of colours and prints with seasonal designs and limited editions, with about 200 million pairs sold every year.