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The Flip-Flop History


Flip-flops, flip flops, slip slaps, thongs (in Australia), pluggers, double pluggers,toesies, jandals or slippers are an open type of outdoor footwear, consisting of a flat sole held loosely on the foot by a Y-shaped strap, like a thin thong, that passes between the first (big) and second toes and around either side of the foot. Unlike sandals, flip-flops do not secure the ankle.

The traditional woven soled Japanese zōri had been used as beach wear in New Zealand in the 1930s. In the post war period in both New Zealand and America, versions were briefly popularized by servicemen returning from occupied Japan. The idea of making sandals from plastics did not occur for another decade.
The latest design was invented in Auckland, New Zealand by Morris Yock in the 50s and patented in 1957. However, this claim has recently been contested by the children of John Cowie. John Cowie was an England-raised businessman who started a plastics manufacturing business in Hong Kong after the war. His children claim that it was Cowie that started manufacturing a plastic version of the sandals in the late 1940s and that Yock was just a New Zealand importer. The children also say that their father claimed to have invented the name "jandal" from a shortened form of "Japanese Sandal". John Cowie and his family emigrated to New Zealand in 1959.

Despite 'jandal' being commonly used in New Zealand to describe any manufacturer's brand, the word Jandal is actually a trademark since 1957, for a long time owned by the Skellerup company. In countries other than New Zealand, jandals are known by other names. In Australia they are known as thongs. The first pair were manufactured there by Skellerup rival Dunlop in 1960.[citation needed] Thongs became popular there after being worn by the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956[citation needed]. In the UK and U.S. they are most commonly known as flip-flops.

Flip-flops may have been familiar in the United States in the mid-19th century. An 1861 letter to the editor of The New York Times mentioned poorly equipped troops in the Seventh Regiment Volunteers wearing "flip-flaps": "The men were not in uniform, but very poorly dressed, — in many cases with flip-flap shoes. The business-like air with which they marched rapidly through the deep mud of the Third-avenue was the more remarkable." Later the letter reads: "The men have not yet been supplied with shoes, and yet still march flip-flop. Why?" The letter does not describe the men's shoes in detail, so it is not clear whether it is referring to footwear of the flip-flop style, or perhaps to the poor state of their shoes.

A pair of "Havaianas" thongsFlip-flops now come in a variety of shoe styles other than the traditional flat sandal, such as women's heels, slides, and wedges. The shoes gained popularity as celebrities started wearing them and luxury designers started producing them.

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