why aren't flipflop shoes superseeded by sandals without ankle support type slippers?

in Walmart flip-flop shoes cost significantly less than much more comfortable slipper shoes made of similar plastic (well, I think even-sven mentioned that the actual cost of a flip-flop is trivially small, in the tens of cents). Further, the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flip-flops elaborates that the cheap flip-flops are popular among poor people in 3rd world countries.

Well, so why exactly are flip-flops so much cheaper than the slippers? On the face of it, they both have a sole and some plastic thongs glued on top, except the slipper way of having the thongs in an arched pattern is IMHO a lot more comfortable and not likely to traumatize the toes unlike the flip-flop case.

So why can’t anybody find a cheap way of making slippers and get all those poor people switch to them instead of the flip-flops? Or are there some great benefits to the flip-flop design that I fail to see while enjoying my slippers?

Didn’t you answer your own question in the first sentence?

my post contains several questions. I also don’t see why you think that this discussion of relative costs and pros/cons of two popular types of footwear deserves the sort of thread-sh…g that you are doing here.

Cheap one piece sandals like this are pretty popular and widely available, but they are hideously ugly and don’t last as long- the soft plastic (kind of like what Crocs are made of) wears away and you can’t sew it back together as easily as you could a flip-flop…flip flops can be easily repaired until the soles get holes in them. In order to make a sandal style cheap and durable you’d have to do it as one piece, which ends up being bulky. Any African market is going to have a pretty good variety of cheap Chinese plastic footwear.

In Cameroon, at least, people were very conscious of their footwear, and it was an important measure of not only your own status but your respect for the people you are interacting with. To show up in public with dirty or ugly shoes would be an insult. Anyone who could afford a pair of leather shoes, preferably locally made (they are no more interested in cheap Chinese junk than we are) would wear those out. Those that couldn’t would keep a pair of decently subtle flip flops that at least wouldn’t call attention to themselves.

Most people would have a separate pair of shoes for wearing out, wearing inside the house, and probably another for puttering around the yard and using the outdoor latrine/shower. If you travel, you bring your own house shoes, but your host will probably also have a selection of house shoes for guests. That’s what the really ugly cheap stuff gets used for. Now and then you accidentally venture out in your house shoes, and it’s pretty embarrassing when you realize it.


two questions:

if so many people over there wear flip-flops, is the toe problems just an accepted part of the culture? My feeble attempts at using them could be chalked up to grievous lack of skill, but then google seems to suggest otherwise http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=797&bih=349&q=flip-flop+toe+trauma&aq=f&aqi=&aql=f&oq= . E.g. “Flip-flops ‘injure 200,000 a year’ costing the NHS an astonishing £40m” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1298471/Flip-flops-injure-200-000-year-costing-NHS-astonishing-40m.html

also, and closer to the gist of my OP, I need clarification on this point of yours:

What I don’t get is, why can’t you basically remake the flip-flop into a slipper/sandal by attaching the plastic cord not to the point at the front of the shoe (where it damages the toes) but rather to the side, in an arch? In other words, my question is not so much about “why people don’t wear the classical sandals” but rather “why can’t cheap flip-flop type footwear be more comfortable/safe through the use of quasi-sandal pattern of attaching the cords”. Of course, if such a flipflop/sandal hybrid were actually viable presumably it could be manufactured both in artisanal or hobbyist setup from normal flip-flops or else just normally manufactured in China.

In preemptive response to recommendations to go experiment myself, footwear hacking is not my strong point :slight_smile:

The other sandal designs you actually see haven’t taken over the flip-flop niche because, as you say, they’re more expensive. And flip-flops without the toe cord haven’t taken over because they fall off too easily.

I think the band on a flip flop is too narrow for it work well without a toe anchor. It’d dig into your skin and slide around, and flop off as you walk. The toe part allows it to “flip” back up as you walk. Slipper type sandals always have a thicker band to fix the sandal to your foot enough to make that effect.

I think it’d be harder/more expensive to attach a thicker band. What gives flip-flops their durability is that they are not glued, but rather anchored through the sole. I don’t know that it’d work the same for a thicker band.

As for food injuries- I think a lot of people can wear flip-flops just fine, especially if they’ve grown up wearing them. Certainly a lot of Peace Corps volunteers take to them, and I’ve never heard of problems worse than a stubbed toe. You do learn to be aware as you walk- something you don’t really have to do in America. At any given time you could trip into an open sewer, or across a free roaming baby, or any number of obstacles. You learn to watch where you are going. Anyway, when you are living in a mud hut, you probably have bigger comfort concerns than sub-optimal footwear.

As a minor aside, my roomie drives me insane in the winter. She prefers flipflops or bare feet in nice weather, but in the winter she wears wellies when going out to deal with the poultry, or slog through mud/snow for the mail or whatever. When she comes into the house she kicks and steps on things - she has actually broken stuff like those tv dinner tables in cheap wood by slamming into them. It is like she has a brain/body disconnect and doesn’t seem to know where her feet are, and she seems to refuse to actually look where she is walking … :smack::rolleyes::mad: I keep trying to get her to take the damned wellies off at the door, but she insists on stomping around in the house like a [singular] herd of buffalo. Thank ghu spring is almost here.

That’s what I came to say. The sandals you mention fall off more easily. The flip flop allows you to hold on to the shoe by gripping between your first and second toes. Granted, in my opinion, such gripping sometimes hurts, and I prefer my backed croc-clones or my slip-on shoes. But, again, those make things more expensive.

Though, I must admit that croc-clones are making in roads. I know of a charity that donated a bunch of croc-clones to people in Africa who can’t afford shoes. Apparently, that was cheaper than flip flops.