The Battle of the Flipflops: Havaianas vs. Beach Walk
I don't know about you but I've always wondered about how Havaianas compares to a "regular" pair of slippers.
What's so special about Havaianas? Are they really all that different from the slippers you can get from any wet market or grocery (a.k.a Spartan)? And so in the name of hard nosed investigative journalism (Watch out Howie Severino!), I took it upon myself to finally dispel the myths and uncover the bare bone truth!
Round One: Availability
The first thing I did in my quest was to look for a pair of Spartans. I went to SM Southmall and after asking a saleslady, I was told that Spartans the brand no longer existed. Apparently, Spartan merged with Beach Walk sometime back. I was then directed towards a single rack towards the edge of the shoe section filled with slippers of varying colors. Unlike the ubiquitous Havaianas which has a free standing store in every major mall, as well as big displays in Rustan's and various sporting goods stores, Beach Walk is not as easily accessible. It's probably available in all SM branches but you still have to search for it.
I don't know if Beach Walk can still be found in wet markets though, as it used to be when I was young, but my dad bought his recent pair in the grocery. So if you're so inclined, you can grab a pair of Beach Walk together with the week's grocery requirements.
Round Two: Style
There is no doubt that Havaianas comes in a gamut of styles and designs. A trip to an All Flip Flops branch will lead to a veritable slipper overdose with the dozens of colors and designs available for the eager shopper to choose from. In fact, I myself have a Yellow Top, Hot Pink Flash and white Metallic pairs. In comparison, the Beach Walk rack in Southmall was not as formidable, design and selection wise. Actually, I was half tempted to scoot over to the Planet rack because it had cuter designs. But I stuck with my earlier plan and chose a bright red pair with blue thongs.
The available Beach Walk slippers were of the two - toned variety. I originally wanted the green and yellow pair, but they didn't have it in my size so I had to settle for the more eye catching red and blue. There were only two styles available in the Beach Walk rack, the thong type slipper and the "X" type, where the straps formed an X (my father's preferred style). However, according to this blogger, Beach Walk also comes in wedges and has its own box. Sadly enough, the boxes and the wedges were not available when I went to Southmall.
Round Three: Comfort
The first thing I noticed about my new pair of Beach Walk was that the thongs were not as long as Havaianas and so after a few minutes of using them, the thong was already rubbing on my foot! Ouch! I then tugged on the thong to elongate it a bit. I tugged and I twisted the slipper for a while until it became a little more comfortable. I'm happy to say that I've been using my Beach Walk pair for over a month now and chafing is no longer an issue.
The foot pad was very soft too but it did not have the legendary buttery feel of the Havaianas. It didn't feel cool on my feet, rather it felt like, um, rubber. But very, very soft rubber nonetheless. Just like the Havaianas, the Beach Walk foot pad also easily collected grime but I haven't tried scrubbing it with soap and water though so I don't know yet which is easier to clean, I promise to make a postscript on that later on :p
Round Four: Durability
My first pair of Havaianas was bought almost three years ago and I still use it up to this day. Even after constant use and abuse, it still looks relatively new, although it now has stubborn grayish foot marks on the foot bed and the sole more that shows its age. The sole has started to grow thin in parts (or pudpod na for lack of a better term) and I've noticed that I tend to slip more while wearing that pair. I guess with pudpod also comes a loss of traction.
It's still too early to tell how durable my Beach Walk pair is, but my father looooves his Beach Walk! He has around three pairs of the the white X yellow thong style which he bought at different times. The one he likes best is his oldest pair, which is now practically paper thin with the soles turning black at some part (black = pudpod). The two newer pairs (doppelgangers of his first pair) usually turn up at various places in our house because, much to my father's chagrin, they have become the default slippers for the rest of the household when we can't be bothered to look for our own slippers.
Round Five: Price
My Beach Walk slippers set me back a mere Php89.95 while the cheapest pair of Havaianas is a little under Php700.
Why the big price discrepancy? First, Havaianas are imported from Brazil so there are taxes to be paid and import costs to be factored in. Second, Havaianas have big overhead expenses with its stand alone stores in the more upscale malls. Third, if it were cheaper, it wouldn't be any different from Beach Walk, Planet, Islander and Banana Peel :)
Incidentally, my uncle recently came from Brazil and he said that Havaianas can be found everywhere there. He was also surprised to find some discarded pairs along the street, but a local told him that Havaianas are so commonplace in Brazil that it makes better sense to just throw it out and buy a new one than trying make do with an old pair. And the locals don't clean their Havaianas, instead, they just chuck it out and get a new pair. Apparently, Havaianas is Brazil's Beach Walk.
It is beyond dispute that Havaianas outperforms Beach Walk in almost every aspect and it should, for the price you're paying for it and the value we have also attributed to it. But this experiment has taught me that Beach Walk is also a potential force to reckon with. It's comfortable, durable and value for money. Now if only the Beach Walk people can get its act together and come up with more designs...
As for me, now that I'm making my own money, I have become more careful with my spending, so for slippers it's a 90p pair of Beach Walk for this spendthrift and the remaining 600p I would have spent on a new pair of Havaianas can go to a movie and a good meal (and you can also even throw in a new paperback novel).
*PS. Special thanks to my cousin Mitchie for letting me take pictures of her pretty Havaianas!