Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy Jandals Day

In 1956, the Olympics were covered on television for the first time. Melbourne, Australia became the focus of the world and the athletes got media attention, like never before. In and out the competition arena sportpeople became photo opportunitites. Two things emerged from the games which were to influence the footwear industry, evermore. The athletes from the Easter Bock countries wore highly coloured canvas topped sneakers when preparing for events. Referred to as ‘trainers,’ the style soon after found crossover into mainstream ath-leisure fashion and sport shoes were never the same since. When the Japanese swimming team came to competition, they paraded ceremonially in their getas (traditional platform sandals) which became a camera spectacle which was broadcast all over the world. The fashion for plastic flip flop sandals soon followed thanks to a Hong Kong based shoe manufacturer, John Cowie who had previously seen Getas, Tatami and Zori sandals on a vist to Japan. On his return he designed plastic thongs. Maurice Yock took the idea to New Zealand and patented the first pair of rubber thongs which he called Jandals (a combination of Japan and Sandal) in 1957. Plastic sandals were mass produced cheaply in Japan and had became a stable post war manufacturing industry especially when they started selling all over the world. New Zealand sales rocketed and soon Australians wanted to wear the casual sandals they had seen on the Melbourne Olympics. In the UK and Western Europe the new plastic flip flops were a must for all package holiday tourists visiting the sun kissed beaches of the Mediterranean for the first time. In the 60s the cheap shoes found popularity among many low social economical demographic including in South America where they were called Havaianas (pronounced ha-vie-yon-ahs) flip-flops. The plastic flip flops replaced the espadrille as cheap and serfvicable footwear and what was once staple fair for the poor became the shoe to have for the fashionista post September 11 and especially since they were paraded for all to see on The Oprah Winfrey Show. If you recall Ms Winfrey had the same effect on the sales of Ugg boots. An annual National Jandals Day is held in New Zealand (December 7th) and all proceeds go to the Surf Life Saving New Zealand. The main sponsors for the national celebration of Jandals wereBach 22 wines and Surf Life Saving New Zealand. Jandals, thongs, flip flops, whatever are the ultimate sand shoe and bought by millions of people just to lounge around the beach. Many people admit to buying a new pair plastic sandals ever year, just to keep up with fashion trends. The plastic sandal industy is blue chip.

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