Words and photos by Tara Michie.
In Hawaiʻi we like to surf, wear Aloha shirts, eat lots of rice, and wear rubber slippers.
The slipper (pronounced “slippah” by locals) is a Hawaiian-style staple. Known elsewhere as thongs, flip flops, or sandals, the rubber slipper says a lot about Hawaiʻi’s multi-cultural history and island lifestyle.
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Japanese immigrants first brought traditional Japanese footwear (zori and/or geta) to Hawaiʻi in the late 1800s. While “zori” are thin sandals made out of straw, “geta” are a heavier, platform-style sandals made out of wood. Between the native Hawaiians’ minimalism (no shoes at all), the Japanese zori and geta, and a few decades of technology,the rubber slipper was made a Hawaiʻi tradition in the 50s.
“In Hawaiʻi we like to surf, wear Aloha shirts, eat lots of rice, and wear rubber slippers.”
Go into any grocery or convenience store and you’ll usually find an entire aisle dedicated to rubber slippers—they’re kind of a big deal here and always will be. I think it’s safe to say that Hawaiʻi is responsible for the first wave of the slipper trend in the 70s, adopted by numerous other beach cultures around the world, and one that remains a cult favorite today.
I’ve owned rubber slippers my entire life. My favorite pair were called the “kamaboko” slipper because they looked like a rainbow-stacked fish cake.
You can always tell someone is from Hawai’i because their feet are wide and their toes are spread out like a gecko’s. I even know some Hawaiians who refuse to wear shoes when they are visiting the mainland in the wintertime! We don’t wear footwear in the house and our slippers are left at the front door (which is why we prefer footwear that can slip on and off easily).
“If I can’t be barefoot or wearing slippers, I want to be strapped into my Teva soles.”
So, why am I even talking about the rubber slipper? Because not only is the Original Universal Premier sandal just as connected to a strong sense of heritage and the outdoor lifestyle, but they are just as comfortable as (if not more than) the simple slipper.
In Hebrew, “Teva”means nature and was created to accommodate an adventurous, outdoor lifestyle. So it only seems fitting that the tradition of the Original Universal Premier be just as celebrated as the rubber slipper in Hawaiʻi— if I can’t be barefoot or wearing slippers, I want to be strapped into my Teva soles.
I’ve always loved wearing clothes that bring out the nostalgia of 60s-and-70s-era Hawaiʻi (and think Tyler looks so handsome in retro-inspired outfits too!). Around the same time that slippers were growing popularity, so were the Aloha shirts and muʻumuʻu (pronounced ˈmo͞o-o͞o mo͞o-o͞o). So what could be more fitting than swapping out an old pair of slippers for a pair of Teva Original Premier sandals for that #OldSoulNewSole look? And every single Hawaiʻi girl feels extra special when they get to wear a lei poʻo (traditional Hawaiian flower crown)—this one was a gift from a dear friend, which makes it extra special. If you’re wondering what Tyler is holding in his hand (other than his Original Universal Premier sandals), that is called an Alaia (pronounced aːˈlɐjaː) a traditional, finless surfboard made out thinly shaped wood.
My favorite beaches usually take a little extra walking or hiking to get to, and I couldn’t think of a more functional and fashionable pair of sandals to wear there.