$990 for flip-flops? Cheap footwear gets designer makeover, becomes summer’s hot fashion statement

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We’re entering a different kind of flop era.

Once reserved for poolside lounging, beach outings or walking home from a pedicure appointment, the humble flip-flop is en route to become the chicest shoe of the summer.

“For some reason the flip-flops make you look cooler, like wearing an evening dress and flip-flops,” Ancient Greek Sandals co-founder and designer Christina Martini told Business of Fashion.

“We’ve seen that a lot lately, that creates an appetite for it.”

Trendalytics data shows that searches for the simple sandal were up 12% last month while queries for platform and kitten heel flip-flops have soared 225% and 700% respectively this spring, per BoF.

This week, Havaianas, which has manufactured classic $20 rubber flip-flops for six decades, is launching its third designer collaboration this week: a collection with Dolce and Gabbana, which features an array of flops in the luxury brand’s eye-catching patterns priced at $138.

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The 2000s are back! Kim Kardashian is seen sporting a pair of flip-flops during a beach outing in 2007. WireImage
The 2000s are back! Kim Kardashian is seen sporting a pair of flip-flops during a beach outing in 2007. WireImage
Trendalytics data shows that searches for the simple sandal were up 12% last month while queries for platform and kitten heel flip-flops have soared 225% and 700% respectively this spring, per BoF. Jiri Hera – stock.adobe.com
Trendalytics data shows that searches for the simple sandal were up 12% last month while queries for platform and kitten heel flip-flops have soared 225% and 700% respectively this spring, per BoF. Jiri Hera – stock.adobe.com

“Being part of people’s lives again is a must for us,” Maria Fernanda Albuquerque, the vice president of global marketing at Alpargatas SA, the parent company of Havaianas, told BoF.

“Flip-flops are super on trend, so we need to ride this wave.”

High-end designers like Gucci, Tory Burch, Prada, Chanel, Loewe and The Row are cashing in on the flip-flop frenzy.

The Row’s trendsetting $990 leather Ginza sandal has long reigned as the hottest flip-flop on the market with a thicker sole, but the low-profile City shoe, as seen in the brand’s pre-fall 2023 show in Paris, seemingly spurred a thong revolution.

That same season, Burberry and Gabriela Hearst debuted flops on the catwalk, and in 2023, Jennifer Lawerence sported a pair of thong sandals on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet.

“I used to only wear flip-flops home from pedicures, it wasn’t something that I’d walk around in all day,” content creator Rachel Cohen Smolyar, who previously worked as a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, told the outlet.

“But obviously when big brands like The Row are pushing a shoe, people are going to buy them.”

“I used to only wear flip-flops home from pedicures, it wasn’t something that I’d walk around in all day,” content creator Rachel Cohen Smolyar, who previously worked as a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, told Business of Fashion. butus – stock.adobe.com
“I used to only wear flip-flops home from pedicures, it wasn’t something that I’d walk around in all day,” content creator Rachel Cohen Smolyar, who previously worked as a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, told Business of Fashion. butus – stock.adobe.com
Fashionistas are fawning over flip-flops — and paying big bucks for the hot footwear. @clairrose/Instagram
Fashionistas are fawning over flip-flops — and paying big bucks for the hot footwear. @clairrose/Instagram

And, in an period of fashion where the casual has become subversive — like business casual branded as “corp-core” — it’s no surprise traditional flip-flops are en vogue.

“There’s so much conversation around dad sneakers and Crocs and kitten heels making a comeback, but there’s something quite physical about people’s disdain for the flip-flop, which makes them more radical,” Biz Sherbert, podcaster and fashion extraordinaire, told Vogue.

Flip-flop cynics have decried the wearing of item, especially in major metropolitan areas where the streets are frequently filthy. But where you might have been though a “disgusting freak” for sporting the sandals, now, it is high fashion, even when sold for a low cost.

J. Crew, Mango and Old Navy, per BoF, have debuted their own leather, or faux leather, variations of the thongs, while millennial nostalgia-inspired Floteez flops, emblematic of the current Y2K obsession, are available for sale at Free People.

Flip-flop cynics have decried the wearing of item, especially in major metropolitan areas where the streets are frequently filthy. gallofilm – stock.adobe.com
Flip-flop cynics have decried the wearing of item, especially in major metropolitan areas where the streets are frequently filthy. gallofilm – stock.adobe.com

“They’re so deeply utilitarian,” Sherbert continued. “You roll up to the bar in a pair of Havaianas and you still look good? That’s cool. The casual signaling that you’ve been to a different destination recently is very chic. You just walked off the airplane and now you’re going about your business? It’s unmatched.”

She added: “Once you start wearing them, you realize that you’ve been a loser for not wearing them all along.”