Thursday, 15 April 2010

Rubber or Plastic?

Given the recent floods we've had here in Rio, and the subsequent open-sewers and lake-sized puddles we had to wade through for a while, I thought it was a good time to talk about my love for the great Brazilian tradition of waterproof footwear.

Actually, I would say that an obsession for flip-flops is the first truly Brazilian trait I assimilated, well before moving here. Specifically, for the ubiquitous Havaianas brand. You know, the classics with little Brazilian flags on them. The ones that Buffy the Vampire Slayer got married in. The ones that sell at Top Shop and Urban Outfitters for a million times more than you pay for them here.

You can buy Havaianas anywhere, but their dedicated stores are irresistible. Rows upon rows of delicious pairs dangle on little hooks. Candy-coloured, manly-coloured. Metallic, day-glo, fluoro. Straps thick and thin, ankle wrapping, criss-crossing or the good old-fashioned 'V'. Wedge heels, colour-spliced soles, ethnic prints, retro, graphic, gothic. I've got dozens of pairs, but my typical 'flavour' is thin metallic straps on a jewel-toned sole. I have been known to adorn with the crystal butterfly or star.

However, I recently had a life-altering flip-flop moment. After almost a decade of brand fidelity, I switched. The third strap malfunction in as many weeks left me walking the streets of Flamengo barefoot (totally not advisable). I hopped to a supermarket and grabbed a pair of, gasp, Ipanemas.

I always thought that Ipanemas were the equivalent of a non iPod MP3 player. I mean, who would want that? No amount of Gisele Bundchen's endorsement could convince me to even try them on. But, needs must. I can report that the soles are softer and squidgier ergo more comfortable than Havaianas. Also, they have a wider shape to accommodate my feet. However, they are kind of sticky and get dirty easily. I'm not exactly a convert but I do have somewhere else to turn: Melissa.

If you want to wade through filthy puddles in real style, Melissas are the way to go. They are basically jelly shoes gone uber cool. I don't know what chemical they pump into them, but they have this signature smell. Super sickly and bubble-gummy. It makes you sniff the shoes, which is kind of weird. If they weren't so cute you'd feel like a pervert. They do all these co-created shoes with designers like Vivienne Westwood to Campana. Sandles, stilletos, velvety ones (how do they get plastic to look like velvet?), sparkly ones.

My latest Melissa fix was a double-whammy - a pair of weird toothpaste minty off-white ones with a big blossom, and a whimsical antique pink flower-covered pair. Bring on the next downpour, and long live the second great Brazilian tradition - the affordable pedicure - to make my feet almost photo-friendly!


  1. Tasha ! Loved your installment ! I bought the same Melissa's a couple of weeks ago, but mine are black with the white flower, was contemplating getting the other ones too for Montreal... and oh ! my pedidure is in the same state ! cheers !

  2. I do manicure e pedicure every week now.....I think Ipanema is softer but heavier than Havaianas so its hard to decide which one is best. Havaiana has a better design.