Comparisons ‘Afoot’ With Flip-Flops

Are you flipped out over the volume of flip-flops you have to choose from for promotional programs? No worries. There are several factors you can use to differentiate the options. Experts from two of the industry’s most respected brands understand the challenge and share their tips.

Footprints USA (asi/55030), known for its Talking Footprints Sandal, offers more than 30 styles. This year it introduced the Foldable Flip-Flop. Value-added function is one way to select the best option for your clients. Another aspect is fashion appeal. “The trend is for more upscale and unique styles,” says Robert Stevens, president of Footprints USA. He points to the new folding version and a pair with a built-in bottle opener as examples.

Evaluating quality matters as well. Are the straps sewn into the flip-flops? Is there arch support? Are the insole and outsole made of rubber, which provides the best durability? Stevens says sole options also affect the quality and look of the shoe. A basic flip-flop has a single-layer sole. It takes two or more layers to add extra color and the optional talking footprint.“Without question, there are many styles and configurations in flip-flops these days, and the differences can be hard to discern to the average consumer,” says John Amsterdam, president of Neet Feet Inc. (asi/73525). “The differences in price normally reflect the quality of the flip-flops, with some exceptions.” Amsterdam recommends using actual samples so distributors and clients can discern the difference in quality.

“The least expensive and least comfortable straps are usually molded with plastic, vinyl or PVC,” Amsterdam continues. “Design, quality of molding and sizing are also important factors. It is possible to have a comfortable plastic strap, but it’s not so common. Better straps are usually made with natural or synthetic rubber or a combination of rubber and plastic. The best straps are made with fabric or leather.” The ability to embroider these straps is an added benefit, increasing the perceived value. Fabric or leather straps may also be lined, making them more comfortable. One caveat, though: fabric straps remain wet much longer than a molded rubber strap.

As for trends, Amsterdam sees a lot more slide styles (one thick strap over the foot) than traditional flip-flops. “Embellished designs are also hot,” he says. “We’ve done many orders that copied retail trends like the Torey Burch brand. These embellishments include metal logo medallions over the toes and crystals on the straps. Bright colors are always popular and add to the fun vibe you get when wearing flip-flops.”