Don’t know what they are? Havaianas are the fashionable flip flops from Brazil – the ones with the Brazil flag on the straps. There seem to be a lot of ways people say and spell them, from Havanas – like the Cuban capital – to Have-i-anas and any combination possible. The correct way though is Hav-i-annas, spelled Havaianas. The name actually has nothing to do with Havana and is to do with the Hawaiian Islands, well the name at least. In Portuguese Hawaii is written Havai and havaianas is the plural for female Hawaiian.

It’s worth knowing a bit of history about the product. They may be a highly popular fashion item but it’s taken more than 40 years to get to this status. The first pair of Havaianas was made in 1962 and the design was based on Japanese sandals, which is why the bottom of Havaianas has a rice-type pattern.

In the following 3 decades they were sold in small shops and local stores for a low price, and were not the flashy or fashionable designs, as on today’s models. Pairs from the early 90’s were pretty simple – with a white upper sole and no flag on the straps. They were called «chinelos de pobre» (poor man’s flip flops) and it wasn’t until the mid 90’s when the company decided to revamp their brand of cheap flip flops and extend the range.

They ditched the white upper sole and decided to make them in more colours, also changing the shape of the sole as well. As well as this they released a range with the Brazil flag on the top to celebrate the football world cup. By the turn of the millennium they were gaining more popularity in Brazil and nobody knows for sure how they made the leap to ‘world domination’ – after 30 years selling only in Brazil these days you can find Havaianas in over 60 countries.

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