The oft-derided flip-flop has made its way back in style this summer, having appeared in spring ’19 runway shows and on the feet of A-listers like Kim Kardashian.
While flip-flops have always been viewed as acceptable for trips to the beach or trips to the nail salon, they’re often knocked as “ugly” and viewed as an impractical choice for city streets.
Nonetheless, flip-flops as fashion go back farther than many might think. Always one to push the limits, Perry Ellis teamed flip-flops with a cropped sweater and a teensy miniskirt at the brand’s spring ’81 runway show.
In the ’90s, we saw a major influx of the style — possibly inspired by the popularity of “Baywatch,” the 1989–2001 primetime soap that followed a group of lifeguards on Malibu Beach.
As the lifeguards wore their bathing suits and functional swim shoes in the sand, designers took the humble flip-flop to new heights — literally. Platform and flatform flip-flop styles hit the runway through the ’90s, and celebrities wore them on the red carpet, making the trend even more popular. Who can forget Gwen Stefani’s fluffy bikini top and white platform flip-flops at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards?
In the early aughts, the shoe style appeared frequently on the feet of “it” girls like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Paparazzi snapped stars wearing the sandals with other must-have of the day, like velour sweatsuits, bootcut jeans and skinny scarves.
Until the recent resurgence of flip-flops, the style this decade was mostly a go-to for the water (or post-pedicure), with the exception of Havianas backstage at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
But for spring ’19, flip-flops were back on the runway and better than ever. The latest revival has seen them teamed with unexpectedly formal items like pantsuits or minidresses — so 2019.
Below, shoe designers sound off on the top trends.
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