Flip flops represent a way of life, a philosophy of fun.
Summer is my favorite time of year. The Greeks have it right. Their word for summer is, kalokeri [καλοκαίρι]. The literal translation is good weather. Summer means vacations, time spent on the water, Conch Republic Bikinis, and flip-flops.
This past weekend, I was pondering the history of the flip-flop over a cup of coffee and thought it would be a good topic to discuss here. I love my flip-flops. There are three, maybe four, pairs in my closet. None of them cost much money, leaving me more for rum and sailboats.
The enclosing nature of shoes holds a negative connotation for me. I don’t feel I’m overreaching here. For me they represent the restrictive nature of the rat race and how it keeps us wrapped up and away from being footloose and fancy free. The type of life I work hard to typify. Flip flops represent a way of life, a philosophy of fun.
The flip-flop has been around for thousands of years. Their design has been found as far back as Egypt and certainly existed prior. Each region of the world used whatever resources were available to them. Some used leather, others grasses, yet others wood. The general design with the single loop plunging down between the toes was the same.
Not everyone calls them flip-flops. Different cultures have their own names for them like slip-slops (South Africa), jandals (New Zealand), go-aheads (South Pacific), slippers (Hawaii) sayonares (Greece) and my favorite from Australia, thongs (I have a bikini to match). The name flip-flop is onomatopoeia; it comes from the sound they make.
The modern popularity came from military men returning from the Pacific Theater after World War 2. The Japanese zori was easily packed and returned home as a souvenir. It wasn’t until after the Korean War that the flip-flop really took off.
Over the years the flip-flop has developed from a traditionally cheap, low quality item to one that today can cost hundreds of dollars. You can even find flip-flops with secret heal compartments and bottle openers. Very creative. We even have our own famous flip-flop maker on Fitzpatrick Street in Key West, called Kino. (www.kinosandalfactory.com) My good friend Rum Shop Ryan has a flip-flop fetish and plugs for Cushe.
The choices are countless and the freedom limitless. So kick off those damn shoes, burn the socks, put on a swimsuit, slather on some sunscreen and grab a rum drink. Next time someone brings up the topic of flip-flops, regal them with your newly found and largely useless knowledge and have a good laugh.
Don’t forget to follow me and look at my bikini store:
Bikini Store: store.conchrepublicbikinis.com