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The flip flop is enough to divide opinions quicker than Moses parting the sea – and for good reason. It has long been associated with topless, hairy sunburnt men with scruffy feet and the ugly side of Y2K, worn with flared velour tracksuit bottoms so wide the flip is nothing but an almighty flop.
But in recent years, the divisive flip flop – like Crocs, double denim and just about anything ordinarily ordinary that Vetements has remixed (see: IKEA, DHL t‑shirts, hi-vis jackets) – has become a point of debate amongst frenzied fashion editors: can flip flops ever be cool?
In 2018, trend-setting, fag-smoking twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen stalled planet Earth on its axis when a black and white portrait of the duo was released. There they were, dressed in all black, sitting on wooden plinths and wearing flipping flip flops. It caused a sandstorm of think-pieces and so began the case for the ugliest shoe ever – after Crocs, of course.
Since then, the shoe has flipped and flopped. Brands like DSquared2 and Fenty x Puma brought out various heeled versions in the same year as the twins to, er, varying degrees of success (not very good). But this year, the flip flop is refined and was the star pupil at the SS22 shows. Never mind the bendy rubber types. 2022’s Class of Flip Flops comes in leather and suede (The Row), wedged (Jacquemus, Coperni), velvet (Dries van Noten) and even with furry trim (Rejina Pyo).
Recently worn by Kendall, Bella & co, the flip flop has seemingly turned on its head. Turns out, if you put ugly things on beautiful people, they become ugly no more. And if Crocs could go from gardener stalwart to somehow cool, to really cool, to not cool at all, flip flops can, too. Take a chance. But if you’re a bloke reading this, forget it. We’re taking baby steps.
TJ Sidhu, Junior Editor
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Why are flip flops so bad? Well, it’s kind of in the name. “Flip, flop, flip, flop,” echo the barely-there sunny day stalwarts as their wearer saunters to the beach. It’s grating, to say the least, but since I like doing the most, let’s call flip flops’ percussive tread intolerable. And it only gets worse if the flip-flopped feet happen to be wet, from swimming or, yuck, summertime sweat. Suddenly the flips and flops develop a squelchy undertone, as the soles stick to your feet for just that bit longer with each stride. Sure, you might not be able to hear it over your AirPods, but everyone around you can. Have some respect, for God’s sake.
Then there’s the issue of practicality. Flip flops are a shoe that only stay on if you endeavour to keep them on. To keep from losing one flip (or is that a flop?) down an unsuspecting drain, you must tense your toes and engage your arches like you’re rehearsing a Swan Lake solo.
Summertime shoes should be easy, carefree and ready to go from park to pub to club on demand. They should be secure enough to dance in, comfy enough to walk long-ish distances in and durable enough to last until next summer (because we only get, like, four properly hot days in the UK). Flip flops deliver on literally none of those points. The only thing they’re good for is taking up less space in your suitcase, but who cares when you’re already packing a 30-look fashion show for a weekend in Ibiza?
Last but not least, they actually look kind of weird. Think about it: flip flops are thongs for your feet. If that’s something that floats your boat, no judgement – I hope you have a great time ogling at strangers’ feet this summer. But when I think about sexy footwear, foot thongs are just a little too literal. May as well just go naked and feel the grass between your toes instead.
Olive Pometsey, Features Editor
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Back to the Crocs argument: if they can do it, flip flops certainly can. But choose what you’re wearing carefully here – there’s a thin line you don’t want to cross and, like any bad shoe-turned-good, it could easily go the other way. Remember to cut your toenails and stay well away from our Features Editor – she’s having none of it.