Jul 5, 2009
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Havaïanas branching out from flip-flops

Jul 5, 2009

For more than forty years Havaïanas have made only flip-flops. With millions of pairs sold each year the brand can afford the luxury of only producing one type of shoe. Over the years the brand has become synonymous with these, and only these, type of footwear; that is about to change. In 2010 espadrilles, trainers and ballet shoes will arrive. But the purists can rest assured, the staple item of the brand will remain safe.

Presented in an advance-première at the Under Le Louvre trade show before being officially displayed at Bread & Butter in Berlin, the three new ranges succeeded in surprising. And yet, if we look back on the history of the brand the link is already there. Everything started in 1907 when a small Brazilian company, Alpartagas (espadrille in Portuguese, ed.), started producing… espadrilles. But, the local market was cool in its response to their efforts and it was not until the 14th of June 1962 that the business was set on the road to the global success that it knows nowadays. It was on this date that the famous flip-flops first appeared, and, with its rubber sole it was one of a kind.

More than forty years later, roughly 180 million pairs of these Havaïanas flip-flops are manufactured each year, of which 150 million come from Brazil itself. Now well-established in its original market, the brand has been increasing its number of exports. Though the climatic advantage that Brazil has for this type of footwear is without equal in Europe or the USA, the flip-flop always manages to please. They follow trends and draw inspiration from the current styles, particularly noticeable with the next football world cup in South Africa which has inspired a collection, even if they can only be worn for a few months each year in most countries. Not content to rest on its laurels however, the brand is looking to reinvent itself; a task that is almost complete.

Launching in February 2010 in Europe, the three new lines will consist of 26 models in total and will be unisex for the most part, excluding the cloth ballet shoes. Following the example of the flip-flops, there is a large choice in colour: pink, blue, green, white, yellow, etc etc. In brief, the festive and sunny world of Havaïanas is once again well-represented. Another point in common is the sole of the shoes; whether for espadrilles, trainers or ballet shoes, the material is the same. Finally, the cloth, named locomotiva (also the name of an Alpartagas business), gives a nod towards the “Greek” and “Rice” designs found on the straps and the soles of the flip-flops. As for the price, this new range can be picked up for somewhere between €30 and €60.

By Jonathan Fulwell (Source: Emilie-Alice Fabrizi)

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