Another item associated with summertime and being on vacation at the beach or lake are flip-flops. Now residents of Florida who have summer almost year-round, wear flip-flops all the time. But most everyone else, these types of shoes are limited to certain places and times.

So the beginnings of flip-flops go back to ancient Japan in Asia. Traditional Japanese footwear included many styles of sandals, but it was Japan’s everyday version of the sandal, called the Zori, that became the precursor for the shoe / flip-flops we are familiar with today.

After World War II, Japan needed a way to rebuild its economy. The country had seized many natural resources from throughout Southeast Asia, including rubber. Desperate for a way to rebuild, Japan replicated the simplest piece of Japanese footwear using their rubber reserves, thus creating the flip-flop. Military soldiers stationed in Japan brought these types of sandal shoes to America.

Flip-flops were introduced by manufacturers to America in the 1950s; women and children were the first to adopt them. They wore them around the house, poolside, beach or lake. They were also a hit with surfers, which created the enduring connection between flip-flops and California’s surf scene. At first, the new sandals were called “thongs,” so named after the piece between the toes, but by the 1960s, the term “flip-flops” had come into use; it was based on the sound the shoes made as the wearer walked.

Both terms (thongs and flip-flops) were used interchangeably until the 1980s when “thong” came to be used solely to describe a style of underwear and “flip-flop” was used to refer to the shoe. Today, the basic design of flip-flops remains more or less the same as when they first hit the market and their popularity has only grown over the years.

So you need to check with relatives who may have purchased and worn those early flip-flops of the 1950s. Check also you Florida friends and relatives, see how many pairs of flip-flops they own.

Photo: Ladies Flip-Flops of 1950s.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Strange Practices of Our Ancestors

Styles After Labor Day

Paper Dresses of the 1960s

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