Last summer, sometime in the depths of August, Vogue.com published a small report from Copenhagen Fashion Week declaring loudly that flip flops—Havianas, specifically— were back. Because it was August and the news was slow, this blog made a small, nearly imperceptible splash and then disappeared. I did not see flip flops on the feet of fashionable women clomping the cobblestones of Soho in New York City or anywhere else, really, except at the beach. Autumn arrived, then winter, then something approximating spring, and now here I am: Roughly one year later, all I ever want to do is wear flip flops for the summer. I am back, baby. Flip flops are good.
When I breathlessly reported my findings to Features Editor Stassa Edwards, I did not hear her sigh, but I felt it: “Yes, flip-flops are good,” she said. “I live in Florida. I wear flip-flops all the time.” Certainly there are many other places in this country in which a flip-flop is an acceptable shoe for everyday use, but in those places, one probably drives. In New York, the cursed city I have chosen to make my home, the streets are filthy, covered in a slick of rat pee, garbage juice, and discarded Juul pods. Sandals are tricky if you care about hygiene; the cork footbed of a Birkenstock provides a thick layer of protection from the street as does the foam of a Teva or other sport sandal repurposed for fashion. But if you care about comfort and feel strongly that shoes are the devil’s work, then flip-flops are the answer.
Hygienic concerns, like the ones voiced by Leah Chernikoff at Elle.com in 2018, are valid. “In my cub reporter days at the New York Daily News I set out for a weekend in the city wearing a brand new pair of flip-flops and then sent them into a lab to be tested for bacteria. They came back with nearly 14,000 strains of bacteria including staph.,” she writes. My passion for flip-flops outweighs any health risks because disease and pestilence is everywhere. The subway rails, which I hold onto for dear life, are likely also covered in poo and have provided a home in the past for a host of nauseating objects, including but not limited to a used condom festooned and flapping like a 4th of July banner in a summer breeze.
At the risk of sounding like a fashion editor (ha ha ha!) whose brain has been addled by trendspotting, there really is something kind of chic about them? You’re going to the beach, but you’re also going to the mall, but before you do either, you’re headed to your job where you will sit at a computer and type for eight hours, kicking off your shoes under your desk and wiggling your little piggies. Life is nothing more than long stretches of mind numbing boredom, punctuated by moments of rapture and despair. Why not be comfortable in the interim?
Flip-flops are as close to being barefoot as is socially acceptable. Occasionally a thin scum reveals itself on the foot once the flip-flop is kicked off, but rather than ASSUMING that it’s poop and staph infections, I reassure myself that it is nothing more than foot sweat, congealed. Disgusting, sure, but comfortable? Yes.