Havaianas Is Ready to Lead the U.S. Flip Flop Market, Says Alpargatas President

Photo Credit: Barbara Walton/EPA/Shutterstock
March 14, 2019

By Chloe Aiello

The Havaianas brand dominates flip flop markets worldwide ー but one market they haven't quite cracked is the U.S.

"We're the number one flip flop brand, pretty much in every country in the world. But here in the U.S. ー granted competition is tough ー but we are still looked at as a small brand and we don't see any reason why we can't get to that top position in the next few years," said Eno Polo, president of Alpargatas USA, the Brazilian company that owns the Havaianas brand.

Havaianas, which is actually Portuguese for "Hawaiians," started humbly enough as a simple and cheap flip flop brand, launched by Alpargatas in the early 1960s ー but by the late '80s, they were selling like hotcakes in Brazil. The company expanded internationally in the '90s, and the brand has only continued building steam since.

"It's a phenomenon in the lifestyle business that I have never seen in any other brand, where it's kind of built itself from the bottom up," Polo said.

But about a decade after they entered the U.S. market, Polo said they still seek growth. Alpargatas is looking to re-invigorate the brand with a marketing campaign, "Let's Summer," which Polo called "kind of call to action."

"Summer can mean different things to different people, and that's what we'll touch on. It's that joyfulness, that happiness that you have around summer, but it can also be about, 'let's party, let's surf, let's samba,'" Polo said. "It's a feeling that, you know, when you slip a pair of Havaianas on, you feel like you're in summer."

It's a more American approach to the Brazilian spirit that Polo described as "that summer spirit that people live."