Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Havaianas Sandals Review

The first sunny day of Spring always makes eager young women dig through their closets and abdicate their flip-flops from the dusty back corners where they've been stashed all Winter. Throughout the long Summer months, these colorful plastic sandals are the go-to footwear for every casual ensemble. In unspoken unanimity, most people (especially young women) have decided that among all of the styles and shapes of sandals out there--even the Birkenstock bohemian trend that made a splash in the era of grunge rock, the dreadful Crocs which have mercifully been mocked out of favor, and the ever-popular gladiator sandal that flourishes today--the flip-flop is the top choice.

For me, year after year, Summer always meant the same thing: time to buy a new pair of Old Navy flip-flops. They come in an assortment of colors! I thought. They're only $3 each! I reasoned. And then this year, I met Havaianas. Havaianas are a highly popular brand of sandals from Brazil--you've probably already seen them; they're easily distinctive, especially in the best-selling Brazilian flag styles. I've seen them all over the place, especially since moving to New York City. And I thought about buying a pair on several occasions, but it was hard to convince myself to forgo my well-established relationship with Old Navy sandals. But when Havianas contacted me and asked if I wanted to give a pair a whirl to see what the fuss was about, I decided it was finally time to buckle down and try them out. And now I'm going to share that experience to you.

Read the Full Review

Appearance: When browsing the seemingly endless sea of options on the Havaianas website, my first favorites were these:

'Slim Indian Elephant'

But apparently everyone else loves them too, because they were totally sold out. My next choice (which are now in my possession, and the basis of my review) are these:

'Slim Peacock'

I love the bright Gold coloring on the thong, which makes my jewelry pop, even though it's plastic. All of the colors are actually very bright and pretty, and I love the bold pattern as well. I conducted a quick outside survey by calling my two sisters to see what other styles caught their eye. Big Sis favored these:

'Slim Little Birds'

Lil Sis loved these:


Pricing: When you can get other variations for far cheaper, is it worth doling out more cash for Havianas? At approximately $25 per pair, while they're not the lowest denotation on the sandal pricing comparison chart, they're cheap flip flops that can be purchased annually. But because they're made so much more sturdy than cheaper brands, you don't have to buy them every year. I've only had mine for a few weeks, but I anticipate not needing to replenish by next summer, and possibly not even the summer after that. So far, they've shown little evidence of wear-and-tear, despite many hours on my feet on the rough and dirty streets of NYC. The overall quality of the shoe, plus a choice from over 300 styles and colors (which are, in my opinion, heads and tails more colorful, creative and lovely to look at than competitors), make me think that the price tag is justified on these shoes. But let's talk a little more about the quality.

Quality: As I said, I immediately noticed a sturdiness to these shoes that is sometimes lacking in cheap women's flip flops. And as I've been wearing them, I notice that they aren't getting scuffed up on the soles and sides very easily. More importantly, they're also not showing an indentation where the weight of my foot rests--which can lead to a thin, unbalanced sole in the future, which is uncharacteristcally flat, lacks shock absorption and is really bad for your back.

I do have to note that, thanks to the torrential downpour we've seen in these parts recently, I had the chance to test these beauties in the rain, and they are just as slippery when wet as any other flip-flop I've ever worn (save for, possibly, the FitFlop (review here)). So that was kind of a letdown. Overall, the quality remains up to par as far as I'm concerned, and superior in general to Old Navy flip-flops.

Fit: The sandals fit so well that as I'm walking, with my weight leaning toward the front of my foot, I don't notice the thong pressing between my toes. Better yet, my toes aren't sliding forward to peer over the edge of the sandal. This is a realistic concern with thong flip-flops, because without a back or strap to hold your foot in place, it's likely to slip forward unnaturally. Some cheap sandals ensure your toes don't do this by slapping an extra 1/2 inch of plastic all around the outside of the footbed--which makes your feet look like boats. But Havaianas fit closely to the foot and look sleek and more appealing, and I've yet to see my toes veer toward the pavement. They're simply engineered better. They also fit true to size.

Comfort: I've gotta say, there's not much to say about comfort between flip-flops. They are comfortable, but if you've ever worn regular flip-flops before, they feel about the same (and come nowhere close to the comfort of the FitFlop). Every so often, the plastic at the vortex of the Y in the flip-flop rubs against my foot and while it's not painful, I do notice it. But this only happens occasionally, and hasn't been a problem; as I get more and more used to them, I expect to stop noticing it at all. I do feel a heightened sense of comfort when I wear Havaianas though, because of the fit and quality reasons listed above.

In summary, I'd guess that though I'll continue to shell out $3 for the annual pair of Black Old Navy sandals, I will also be buying my more stylish, colorful and fun sandals from Havaianas from now on. In fact, I'm already craving a second pair. But hey, you don't have to take my word on these stylish summer flip-flops. Apparently Oprah's got a thing for Havianas, too! As always though, the best way to find out is to try them for yourself. And I would be more than happy to hear what you think.

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