World Uses: In Australia, how did slippers become an essential accessory?


By the sea or in the outback, Australians only feel good when they wear flip-flops. It’s a sunny Saturday the way Australians like it. Giant barbecues, rock music, fine wines from the Barossa Valley and frozen beers enliven this party organized in the garden of an estate in Point Piper, a very upscale area of ​​Sydney. The two hosts, two business lawyers, didn’t skimp on welcoming their friends, neighbors, professional connections, big names in finance, media personalities, artists…all the powerhouses the city has to offer. However, the majority of guests here are barefoot or nearly so. Because all you have to do is look at the meticulously cut lawn to see that this very elegant assemblage received with great fanfare is decked out…in slippers!

Slippers, an outward sign of relaxation

Here, the rubber slider is much more than an accessory. On the street, in the café, in the supermarket, it is a national emblem, the essence of flavor with Austral sauce. when we live Down (“Down,” as we often say in Oceania), you need this to keep your feet on the ground. At the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, singer Kylie Minogue perched on giant slippers worn by a fleet of saviors Bodybuilding…mad? Away from this. Rather a powerful symbol through which all people remember that in this pioneering area, the bulging of the toes is an outward sign of relaxation and that means a lot.

Coming soon a biodegradable slipper made from seaweed?

A symbol of a more equal society

In this country-continent where legend has it we arrived with almost nothing in our pockets to build a new life, the thongs (literally “belts”, eg aussies, Confusing as it may be, Americans (who use the same term to refer to a thong) epitomize the cheap basics that put everyone on an equal footing. “Here the social class distinctions are less pronounced, and as soon as you leave your school uniform or office uniform, it shows in the way you dress, Note: Amelie Sainten and Charles Polo, a Franco-Australian couple living near Brisbane. Not to mention that the Australian character is characterized by pragmatism and a taste for simplicity. However, nothing is more practical than slippers when you live close by beachesAnd this is the case for the majority of the population. »

Some time ago, many thought it was a bad joke when a federal bill proposed banning flip-flops at certain formal occasions, such as the citizenship ceremony for new citizens. The discussion, as of now, is not closed. There are barefoot “against” and “pro”. On the other hand, those who remember that nightclubs actually repel those who arrive without shoes. On the other hand, those who believe that it is impossible anyway to become Australian without putting on surfer sandals sooner or later.

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➤ Article published in GEO Journal No. 529from March 2023.

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