Style often trumps comfort when it comes to footwear, but flip-flops are definitely something that you want to fit snugly on your feet in the summer. Ill-fitting flip-flops cannot only be an uncomfortable nuisance, but they can also be a danger if they snag on something or leave you with blisters (which are guaranteed to ruin your day). Luckily, there are plenty of ergonomic flip-flops out there that are designed to mold to the shape of your feet — and even some that are like gloves for your heels. Now, a new variation on the molded flip-flop is out in the form of the “ultimate hippie flip-flop,” a product designed by shoe company iguaneye and inspired by the Amazonian tribes who used to step in liquid rubber gleaned from trees to get a perfectly-formed protective sheath that molded to the exact shape of their feet.
The new flip-flop comes in two rubber parts, which slot into each other like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A custom-made rubber sole cushions the bottom of your foot, while a second rubber element fits into the base of the sole and comes up to cover your big toe and heel. This means that your foot is fully supported but has maximum breathability and flexibility. The shoe fits like a second skin, and the separation it creates between the big toe and the rest of your foot prevents any irritation that might arise from rubbing or friction. The flip-flop is made from two different materials, duraform flex and duraform TPU. Since it’s still currently in the development stages of production, the use of these two materials in the prototypes gives the company a better idea of how to improve the detail of the design before releasing the final product. The flip-flop is currently generating awareness and buzz on Thunderclap, and a crowdfunding campaign will be launched through Indiegogo on December 7th.
There’s also a more show-like version of the “ultimate hippie flip-flop” featured on iguaneye’s website, in which a sole made from cork and natural latex and coated with a leather hide supports an upper skin that wraps around the heel, covers the the tips of the toes, and incorporates the big toe separator seen in the standard model. The shoes will be available in a variety of colors, and their airflow systems have already been detailed in a set of renderings, which show how air enters the shoe through a number of holes before being filtered across the sole via integrated grooves in the upper material. The sensation experienced by the user is said to be akin to that of walking barefoot, making them the perfect choice for anyone who likes to let their feet breathe.
These types of flip-flops are often popular among people who travel a lot and who like a light, durable, and flexible shoe that will adapt to lots of different terrains. Many take inspiration from indigenous cultures, and certain tribes, such as the Tarahumara Indians from Mexico’s Copper Canyon, have even become known for their running aptitude and the simple, handmade footwear that they use to run incredibly long distances.