Earlier this year, sandal purveyor Havaianas dropped its collaboration with fashion label mastermind JAPAN. Comprised of two unisex flip flops, the collection combines each entity’s distinctive sensibilities, resulting in an aesthetic mashup of Brazilian and Japanese roots. For its part, mastermind JAPAN lends its signature skull and crossbones to the Brazilian footwear brand’s signature style, the Top, and new silhouette, the Tradi Zori. This particular style pays homage to Japan’s influence on Havaianas, whose first sandal was a take on the traditional Zori sandal, making this pairing even more meaningful.
Celebrating the creative partnership between the two brands, HYPEBEAST spoke with Havaianas’ CMO, Fernanda Romano, to discuss the impetus for the collaboration, how flip flops can be designed to go beyond the beach and how the pairing came together behind the scenes.
Why was mastermind JAPAN the ideal collaborator for this sandal?
TradiZori is a celebration of our origins. It’s the fusion of the first shape we launched in 1962: the Tradicional (or “Tradi”) with the Japanese Zori, the Japanese sandal that, in fact, inspired the Tradicional. Launching it in a collab with a super cool Japanese brand made a lot of sense. Havaianas is synonymous with the quintessential rubber flip flop, while mastermind JAPAN is known for mixing street style with luxury. TradiZori is our take on not only a new flip flop, but a whole new lifestyle.
Why was it important to pay homage to the traditional Zori sandal?
The Zori sandal is part of Havaianas origin story. Back in 1962 when Havaianas designed the most recognizable flip flop, the Tradicional, it was inspired by the traditional Zori sandal from Japan. We’re traveling back to our origins to reinvent the founding shape, celebrate it again and, with this new shape, present our point of view on something that can go beyond on the beach for a more elevated look.
How does the silhouette combine the ethos of both Havaianas and mastermind JAPAN?
Mastermind JAPAN’s iconic skull and crossbones print were seen by both their creative team and ours as a perfect fit for using Havaianas as a blank canvas. The new shape is our answer to the person who is looking for a more urban look, something to wear on the streets, but wants something special and iconic. As a Japanese brand, mastermind JAPAN helps connect with Havaianas original inspiration and this is important because the story is authentic and true. The new silhouette fuses Havaianas Tradicional and the Zori together to create a style built for the city.
What was the creative and design process like?
It was a true collaboration between all parties. Our APAC team had opened communications with mastermind JAPAN and we knew that it was a perfect opportunity to introduce a new silhouette that was the brainchild of our lead shapewear designer, Leonardo Boin. Since Leo had fused the traditional Zori sandal from Japan and the Tradicional sandal that launched our brand in 1962, we pitched the shape to mastermind JAPAN and they jumped on immediately because they loved the storytelling around the new silhouette. Adding the classic mastermind JAPAN skull and crossbones layered on top of both the Tradi Zori and Top silhouettes was the perfect way to celebrate the heritage of both brands, marrying Brazil and Japan.
Do you see flip flops moving towards becoming a streetwear accessory?
There is an opportunity to re-signify flip flops and normalize the category by expanding the use of sandals in streetwear. People will always wear their Havaianas to the beach, but with this new silhouette, there’s the opportunity to expand the usage and open up the market.
Flip flops tend to be a simplistic design. Why is it important to push the design envelope when it comes to flip flops?
Because it’s so simple, people may take it for granted, but we think that it’s the most user-friendly shape. It survived many centuries of innovation for a reason — the design is the perfect slip-on shoe. However, playing with the weight, dimensions, colors, prints and effects is our passion. We want to create flip flops that every person feels perfectly themselves in.
Check out the mastermind JAPAN x Havaianas Tradi Zori and Top sandals in the video above. They’re available now on Havaianas’ U.S. and E.U. websites. The Tradi Zori is priced at $150 USD and the Top at $80 USD.