The Slides Step In

Is the popularity of Havainas on the wane?

Nike Benassi

One of our posts that has been enjoying frequent views is the piece on a certain luxury brand fashioning their slide sandals after the Adidas Adilette. We’re not sure if the look-a-like really drew interest or the slides themselves were especially appealing. A year on, these flip-flops’ popularity appears to be getting stronger. With brands from Aldo to Zara giving shelf space to a version or two, it seems that the slide sandal (also known as pool sliders or sport slides) is fast replacing the thonged slippers as the preferred hot-weather footwear. Or this season’s Birkenstock Arizona.

To footwear aficionados or those who care about style genesis, the original slide is the Adidas Adilette, first seen in 1972. When revivalists started incorporating the Adilette into their style vocabulary in 2014, Adidas set in motion the slide’s rise by releasing the Adilette in myriad colours and patterns.

The competition did not stay still. Last year, Nike launched a “Star” pack of its Benassi slide, a follow-up of its immensely popular “Star Studded” Air Force 1 shoe, considered a nod to Givenchy’s star-everything. The slide sandals took off. The Benassi quickly became the coolest (intensified by the rarity of the “Star”) to have. And it is not hard to understand why it is so.

image

In the Benassi, Nike has created a pair of extremely comfortable slide that is affordable to boot. What we truly like is the padding of the one-piece, not-too-wide upper that sits across the forefoot: there are no blunt edges or palpable stitching that could be abrasive to the skin. In addition, the ultra-light midsole is made of what Nike calls “injected Phylon” (tech buffs may like to know that that is essentially a foam sole made of ethyl vinyl acetate, commonly known as EVA); its foot bed is textured so that it offers a “massaging feel”. Wearers of the Adilette do not have the same experience.

So well liked is the Benassi that Nike has released several versions of it. There’s the JDI (Just Do It) series with the brand’s name atop the Swoosh (Swoosh alone is called, well, Swoosh!). Instagrammers love the just-launched “Mismatched” version, with each foot in the reverse colours of the other. There’s also the water-loving “Shower Slide” (above) and  the “Solarsoft” (above top) that comes with added padding in the upper, as well as a double-strap version for women known as the Duo Ultra (does that not sound like a particular two-SIM smartphone?!). To keep apace with designer brands offering their own “sports” slides, there’s also the Benassi Lux (below), distinguished by the leather upper with a subtle, perforated Swoosh.

Nike Benassi Slide Luxe

Lest you think mostly guys wear sport slides, Rihanna and Puma’s collaboration, Fenty, released a pair with faux fur upper in three different colours. This is footwear high on camp if you consider that it is based on Puma’s Leadcat slide—mostly worn by off-duty footballers! According to somewhat ecstatic online reports, 30 minutes after it was made available on Puma’s website, every pair was sold out. In no time, the USD80 slide appeared on e-Bay for USD1,000!

The Benassi slides, considered “boutique items” (you won’t find them in regular Nike outlets), are now stocked in stores such as Leftfoot and Surrender. Given how rapidly they are snapped up, will we finally see the popularity of Havainas fade? Probably not. According to a sales staff at the Havainas store in Raffles City, sales have been “good because there are many styles.” It took Singaporeans more than two years after Havainas’s debut at the now-defunct New Urban Male before they adopted the Brazilian beach slippers as part of their for-everywhere urban get-up. It probably will take that long before the slide sandal can be thought to have mass appeal.

The Nike Benassi Shower slide, SGD39.00, is available at Leftfoot Entrepôt, The Cathay; the Benassi Lux (black or white), SGD130, is available at Surrender, Raffles Hotel Arcade; and the Benassi Lux (bi-coloured black and white), SGD145, is available at Phantaci, Orchard Gateway. Photos: Jim Sim

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