ERJ staff report (TP)
São Paulo, Brazil − Brazilian flip flop brand, Havaianas, has collaborated with Valentino to create a collection of luxury rubber sandals, reported Olivia Fleming for The Daily Mail.
Priced at $295 (€216) the spring/summer 2014 sandals will be available from 15 January, exclusive to Valentino boutiques.
Initially the workaday staples of the Brazilian ‘poor’, Havaianas have transcended both their modest origins and the country's borders to become an object of desire the world over, sold at Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus and coveted by Hollywood A-listers, European royals and suburban princesses from Seattle to Seoul.
In 2011, 210m pairs of Havaianas were sold worldwide. Even with 15 percent of total production exported to some 80 countries, enough of the sandals were sold in 2011 for nearly every man, woman and child in Brazil.
Legend has it that Havaianas' simple wishbone between-the-toe design was inspired by Japanese 'zori' sandals, the traditional straw-bottomed footwear worn by geishas.
“It's true that some executives from [parent company] Alpargatas took a trip to Japan before the launch [in 1962],” said Rui Porto, a longtime company executive who now works as a media consultant for the brand.
“But the origins of this style of sandal date back to the dawn of time, to roughly the same era as the invention of the wheel.
“In fact, that's why there's no patent on them,” Porto said.
Still, patent or not, Havaianas has kept the formula behind its squishy rubber soles a tightly guarded secret. Since most of its direct competitors make cheaper, plastic-soled flip flops, Havaianas' aerated rubber soles are seen as key to the brand's success and their manufacturing process is kept under strict wraps.
Beyond acknowledging they're made from a mixture of domestic and imported rubber that shrinks and hardens with extended wear, Porto declined to provide any details about the secret soles.
“Havaianas were almost synonymous with poverty,” said Porto. “They were sold like a commodity, with no investment in design or marketing or innovation, and the whole business model hinged upon selling increasing numbers of pairs in order to drive production costs down.”
By the early 1990s, with domestic competitors beginning to eat away at Havaianas' market share, label executives made a bold, 180-degree shift in strategy. Their plan, aimed at rebranding Havaianas as a fashion accessory, would prove so wildly successful that it has since become a business school case study in marketing.
Suddenly, middle- and upper-class Brazilians who either wouldn't have been caught dead in Havaianas or donned them exclusively for the short trek from their beachfront apartments to the sand, were snatching them up in multiple shades for all occasions.
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Full story from The Daily Mail