August 25 2011
Lucia van der Post
FitFlops, as their fans will know, were devised by Marcia Kilgore, the founder of Bliss spa (though she’s no longer with them) and the retro beauty brand Soap & Glory, as a way of staying in shape while you walked. The theory behind them was that there were lots of busy working mothers, just like her (though possibly not quite so inventive), who didn’t have much time for gyms but hoped to keep the weight down and keep the muscles firm while going about their daily lives. So the FitFlop was born – the so-called “vanity shoe” that gives you a workout while you walk.
To create the FitFlop, Kilgore got two biomechanists, Dr David Cook and Darren James from the Centre for Human Performance at London’s Southbank University, to devise the technology, and up they came with the Microwobbleboard, which makes the muscles work harder and thus is said to tone the legs and bottom. It consists of a triple-density midsole which has shock-absorbing properties (so it’s easy on the joints) and is incorporated into every pair of FitFlops
The shoes’ success has been phenomenal – more than 10m pairs have been sold since they hit the shelves in 2007. Oprah hailed them on her show, and hordes of the glossy posse are photographed in them every summer.
What has happened since then is that women (but also some men) have become addicted to them, claiming that they make their legs feel stronger, fitter, much less tired; so please, they begged, apparently in their hundreds, could she devise something a little more fashionable that they could incorporate into the smarter aspects of their lives. Also – yes, really – could she please make something more expensive to go with their Bottega Veneta handbags.
So the news this autumn is that there are now some very cool new FitFlops indeed. For the arty set (“tall, thin fashion people”, is how Kilgore puts it, so that counts me out), there’s the Shuv, made from deep grey, pale grey or cherry pink felt (third picture, £50). It looks a bit like an updated clog, or a very groovy piece of sculpture, and Ron Arad is apparently mad for it. Then there’s a really very cool Byker boot (first picture), made from distressed leather, with two nice buckles, a thick leather cuff and lined with shearling, which sells for £175.
If we have a winter anything like last year’s, the Superblizz boots (second picture) will come into their own. They’re much less clunky than Uggs, are made from layers of shearling, are water resistant, and have rather glamorous – in an Anna Karenina sort of way – lacings. In black, chocolate and maple (cream and tan), they’re £175 a time.
If, like me, you are never knowingly seen out in anything resembling a flattie, it’s worth bearing in mind that while FitFlops have all the appearance – and comfort – of a flattie, they have a hidden inner heel of about 1½in.
This autumn FitFlops will be smarter (particularly the boots) than ever, but there isn’t anything – yet – that would really go with a sweetly pretty dress. But come next spring and there are some humdingers in the pipeline. I’ve got my name down for a delicious orange and brown suede model and a pair of yellow leather brogues. (Both, of course, with the 1½in inner heels.) You could set out with your Bottega Veneta on your arm in those.