2020 may well go down — among one or two other notable incidents — as the year of the flip-flop. In this summer of quarantining and work-from-home, the lowly rubber sandal becomes our shoe of choice as we are freed from dress code restraints (and fuzzy slippers are just too darn hot). When temperatures climb, this open, cool, and ancient design becomes our most casual, most practical, and often most affordable, footwear option. It’s easy to slip on or off; is eminently practical for the beach, pool, or pier; and makes a steadfast statement of laid-back style. The flip-flop has evolved from its most basic — an ur-shoe of rubber and plastic hanging from a hook at the surf shop — to a modern design concept featuring computer-aided forms, cutting edge materials, and enhanced construction techniques. We’ve gathered some of our favorites for the season, from state of the art selections to must-have classics to cheap and cheerful choices.
Vivo Total Eclipse Lux
With its sleek, low-slung design, the Eclipse is sort of like the Porsche 911 of flip-flops. Its spare silhouette has a design snob’s level of sophistication, and yet its functional features make it both comfortable and good for your feet with barefoot construction inspired by ancient running sandals. You can also feel good about the materials used: Vivo’s Wild Hide is a leather sourced from small scale Ethiopian farmers.
Birkenstock Medina Birko-Flor
If the earthy vibe of the original Birkenstock sandal isn’t your thing, you may find this thong version of the sandal a bit more appealing. It’s got the brand’s trademark comfort footbed and its synthetic, easy-to-clean Birko-Flor faux leather upper, but rendered in a cleaner design that looks more avant-garde Bohemian and less aging hippie.
The Ulele has a clean, modern silhouette, with a profile that seems inspired by marine life. The upper is made of laser-cut synthetic material, with a high-tech footbed and rubbery outsole that makes this flip-flop as comfortable as your favorite pair of sneakers, yet functional and welcome on-deck when it’s time to get out on the high seas.
Oofos Ooriginal Sport Sandal
The Oofos features a crisp, organic, architectural modern design motif, with smooth lines wrapped around the foot in a glossy metallic finish. The design isn’t just skin deep: its super soft footbed absorbs impact, reducing stress on your feet and joints.
Reef Cushion Lux
Luxurious yet minimalistic leather styling is complemented by Reef’s luxuriously comfortable footbed; incorporating an anatomical arch, heel support, a cushioned footbed, and a rubbery outsole for increased traction. Subtle contrast stitching gives this pair the rustic look of your favorite pair of jeans, and are sure to become just as loved and well-worn.
Havaianas Tradi Zori
A pair of classic Havaianas are the über flip-flop, so when the brand tries something new, we pay attention. This new silhouette is inspired by the ancient Japanese Zori sandal, featuring a squared off sole and a fabric strap. The new style premiers with this hard-edged version, a collaboration with Japanese streetwear brand Mastermind that features its skull and bones motif. Watch the site for new versions of the Tradi Zori coming soon.
Sanuk Beer Cozy 2 TX
The Beer Cozy projects the kind of kicked back, relaxed attitude that the name implies. If Southwestern style is your thing, this is your flip-flop. The woven Baja blanket straps are as relaxed as your favorite surf hoodie, while the “foamy and refreshing” soles will keep your feet blissed out all day.
Hari Mari Scouts
Hair Mari brings a touch of preppy refinement to your casual footwear world. The soft twill straps complement the sporty stripes on the sides of the sole. Yet all that flair is just icing on the cake with Hari Mari’s luxurious construction featuring wicking-lined straps, a memory foam toe, butter-smooth nubuck foot bed, firm arch support and much more. We like this pale green and blue combo, but it’s available in three more colorways for you to choose.
Brazilian company Rider developed its fame by creating great rubber sandals that ch-ch-ch-changed the way we wear these heroes of the sandal world. This David Bowie tribute model features a blazing red, gold, and white design celebrating his intense Live Santa Monica ’72 album. Wear these and you’ll only be dancing all the way to Suffragette City.
Old Navy Classics
You won’t feel too bad if you wake up in the morning and find that you blew out a flip-flop if you’ve decided that you’d prefer to grab a pair (or five) of a nice value-priced option. Old Navy Classics will allow you to express your style, and at three bucks a pop you can have a pair for every day of the week. These come in a variety of snazzy solid hues, or for a few bucks more, a selection of tropical-inspired patterns from flamingoes to camouflage to palm trees. Now where did I leave that shaker of salt?
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