From its globally famous surf breaks like the North Shore to its ubiquitous spirit of Aloha, Hawaii is known the world over for its all-encompassing surf culture. The rubber slipper, as it is termed in Hawaii, has become ingrained throughout the culture of Hawaii, so much so that some of its residents vow never to wear shoes again.
In December of 2011, Hana Hou!, the official magazine of Hawaiian Airlines published a piece on the history of the slippah in Hawaii (full article can be read here.) They open the article with the following:
“Hawai‘i does not wear flip-flops. This might be news to you if you’re from the Mainland, but it’s true. Hawai‘i does not wear thongs, either, at least not on its feet. It does not wear jandals, as they do in New Zealand, and it does not wear slipslops, as they do in South Africa…Nor does it wear flip-flaps, flips, slaps or anything like that…What Hawai‘i wears, and what the rest of the world calls by so many other names, is the rubber slipper—or even more correctly, the rubbah slippah.” They go on to state, “The name is important because the slipper is important.”
Meaning & Uses of The Rubbah Slippah
Indeed, the rubber slippah is an iconic piece of the collective Hawaiian soul, and it serves to symbolize the chill and laid-back atmosphere Hawaii is famous for. It also represents the practicality and humility of its residents. The Hawaiian people aren’t boastful or proud, but rather an intently minimalist people. The slipper is all that’s needed. And its iconic symbol shows up everywhere – from paintings and tattoo designs to metal pendants and earrings available at nearly every jewelery shop.
Not only that, but the slipper is incredibly useful. Hawaiians use the slipper for kickball bases, stabilizing rocky tables, killing cockroaches (it’s true!) and even for bodysurfing. Bodysurfers have been known to use the slipper as an extension of the hand to plane against the breaking wave when either no board is available or the surfer decides his luck was better with a slipper.
Even though slipper manufacturing has largely moved outside of Hawaii, there are several brands (Locals not being the least of which) that are Hawaii-based and continue to shape the world of the popularity-gaining slipper.