Looks like Havaianas is able to re-imagine the good ’ol slippers. But when they cost more than S$100, would you jump into a pair?
By Shu Xie
We are a country of lovers of flip-flops. Slippers, as we call them, are footwear of the nation. But would you love them that much if you have to part with close to S$200 for a pair? I would not. To me, there is no such thing as luxury rubber! Yet, Havaianas would have us believe that their new Tradi Zori—launched somewhat quietly here last July—that is mainly a piece of getah the length of your foot has to be copped for the bold, pocket-draining price of S$175. For that amount of money, I could get myself the delightfully clunky Nike Asuna slide (S$69) or the Canyon sandals (S$129). I am not comparing, of course, but if a comparison is to be made—and why not, let’s look within the brand. The regular Havaianas slippers start from S$25, which makes the Tradi Zori a staggering seven times costlier! Some of us do watch how we spend.
To be sure, the new Havaianas slippers are good-looking slippers—very. They are Havaiana’s first new silhouette since the birth of the brand with the unmistakable (and widely copied) Tradicional. As Havaianas fans know well, the brand started after a group of execs from Alpargatas, a 114-year-old Brazilian footwear manufacturer (also behind the fashion label Osklen), visited Japan in the early ’60s. In the Land of the Rising Sun, they encountered the zori, a flat-soled slipper mostly made of straw. So impressed they were with the simplicity of the footwear, and its durability that, on returning home, they went about to create what would be the world’s best-selling slipper (or ‘thong’ as the Australians call it). The first version was named Tradicional and is still in production today.
The Havaianas Tradicional was launched in 1962, and for the next 50-plus years, its shape remained largely unchanged. Until last year, when the Tradi Zori was launched as a collaborative output with high-end Japanese streetwear brand Mastermind (priced at the more tearful S$220). A month later, a series of colour-blocked pairs hit the Havaianas stores. As the name suggests, the new silhouette is based on the zori, but tweaked to reflect Havaianas’s flair with rubber and, with the monochrome styles, to cater to those who’d wear it in an urban setting, rather than, say, at the seaside, with Yohji Yamamoto hakamas, rather than Vilebrequin beach shorts.
One afternoon, when I was looking at the pair produced in collaboration with A Bathing Ape (top) at their freestanding store in Ngee Ann City, a Puma-shod customer wondered aloud to his shopping companion: “How come square toe, huh?” That was a curious question when the Tradi Zori, in fact, has a squared heel. To me, it looks like a Tradicional laid atop a zori-derived, larger sole, complete with an obvious corridor round the edge, as if framing the former, making the slippers look larger than your feet, the way Birkenstocks do too. They are heavy, possibly because of their relative thickness (or perhaps I’m used to the weight of their regular slippers). In black and white for the two styles currently available (including the collab, which, surprisingly, isn’t dearer) and with soft PVC thongs, the Tradi Zori is truly handsome. Sadly, I can’t say the same about the price.
Havaianas Tradi Zori, SGD175, is available at Havaianas, Ngee Ann City. Photo: Zhao Xiangji
Update (14 August 2021, 13:00): Havaianas X A Bathing Ape Tradi Zoris are sold out in stores