Summer is in full swing, and if you enjoy the feeling of cool air on your toes on a hot summer day, you probably own at least one pair of flip-flops. While flip-flops date back to at least 4,000 BC when they were made by the Egyptians from papyrus and palm fronds, the modern American flip-flop was not popularized until after World War II. That is when returning soldiers brought them back from Japan.
The bright flip-flops you see today are known as Havaianas, and they are made by Alpargatas. The sale of flip-flops outpaced sneakers in 2006, and by 2010, Alpargatas was selling 150 million pairs each year.
In the midst of the cheap flip-flop craze, Hawaii born Bill Worthington and his partner Matt Till decided to launch OluKai to address consumers’ need for high-quality, premium sandals that could be worn anywhere from the beach to dinner. “We fill a niche by providing premium leather sandals that can be worn in place of dress shoes, to support a laid-back island lifestyle,” Worthington explains. They also wanted to create a product with more support than the ubiquitous flat $5 version. “We were the first company to design flip-flops with a midsole to give a superior level of support. We wanted our sandals to give customers the feeling of stepping into wet sand, by offering that level of support, stability and cushioning. This could only be achieved by adding an anatomically contoured footbed, which is the important difference in our products.”
Focus on Sustainability
OluKai has a rich history in Hawaii. The brand celebrates the spirit of “Aloha” and tries to authentically represent the rich culture around the island state. Sustainability was always a key aspect of their plan, and today the company is a B Corp. “We strive in every way possible to reduce the impact we’re having on the planet,” Till shared. “Part of that is clear through everyday business choices we make, and by offering quality, long lasting products that people can wear year after year. As a certified B Corp, we work hard to minimize our footprint. Our packaging and catalogs are printed on partially recycled paper and we source materials for our products that have a low environmental impact.”
Ever since their inception…