The Three Types of Legendary Footwear in Vietnam Modern History

For the majority of the Vietnamese, these familiar types of footwear used to be indispensable items that were used every day. However, not many people realize that they are possessing the objects of great historical value in their hands. This article is going to provide you an in-depth knowledge into the types of footwear that have held a special place in the memories of Vietnamese people.

1. Uncle Ho’s tire sandals (or Rubber Sandals)


Uncle Ho’s black tire sandals (Source: Google)

Through historical documents of Vietnam modern history, there is a high likelihood that you have come across a pair of black tyre sandals – an essential item that assisted Vietnamese beloved President Uncle Ho and soldiers in conquering mountains and wading streams for miles. Nevertheless, have you ever wondered what made rubber sandals so special?

Colonel Ha Van Lau was said to be the “father” of tire sandals. However, he admitted himself that he had learnt and improved the methods used by rickshaw drivers. Accordingly, they use spathes of areca trees to produce these sandals. In 1947, noticed that Mr. Nguyen Van Sau had some old car’s tires, the Colonel suggested that he should create tire sandals which were proved to be comfortable,

Rubber sandals had become favorable throughout the country because of their easy-making process, surprisingly cheap price which was suitable for the economic conditions, as well as their waterproof feature. In addition, tire sandals are extremely convenient for cleaning – when become muddy, sandals only need water to wash clean. During the last period of the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese not only made use of damaged automobile’s tires to create tire sandals, but also applied rubber molding process to produce the sandals’ sole and strap.

In the period of 1970 – 1985 in Vietnam modern history, owning a pair of rubber sandals with a costume consisting of sun helmet, a green long-sleeved summer khaki military uniform and a military belt turned out to be a “fashionable trend” among the Vietnamese youth at that time. The convenience of these sandals helped to make it popular and become a symbol of Vietnamese soldiers. Moreover, President Ho Chi Minh also wore tire sandals in his daily activities and even in several important diplomatic cases. Therefore, many people were in favor of naming these sandals after the name of Uncle Ho.

Although rubber sandals are losing its position nowadays, they remain a valuable and historical souvenir of a time in Vietnam modern history.

2. Honeycomb sandals (Dép tổ ong)


The “legendary” honeycomb sandals (Source: Google)

If you are wondering about which types of shoes that were mostly wore by the Northerners in the 1980s, the answer will be the “legendary” honeycomb sandals.

The first honeycomb sandals were produced by Hai Phong Plastic Factory under the Tien Phong brand name. The sandals are made of natural rubber, white or ivory color, thick and simple design with multiple ventilation holes. Due to its convenience, durability and suitability for all objects, this type of sandals quickly gained its reputation among the public in the 80s-90s.

The retail price of honeycomb sandals this period depended on the origin and quality of the product. However, Tien Phong sandals were considered the best and most expensive. A mother said that in 1987, in order to buy two pairs of sandals for her family, she had to sell up to 15 bunches of banana.

Because of its common design and convenience, honeycomb sandals had taken up most of the market’s production of shoes at that time. Besides, during the 80-90s, the lack of diverse shoes models also contributed to the popularity of honeycomb sandals. Moreover, due to the close attachment to many generations of customers, these sandals has become not only a familiar and necessary item but also a symbol of living lifestyle of the majority of Vietnamese people.

After 30 years of powerful consumed in domestic market, honeycomb sandals remain one of the best-seller product in Vietnam modern history of shoes. Nevertheless, under the competitive pressure of hundreds of shoes designs imported from other countries, the “legendary” honeycomb sandals started to lose favor.

3. Flip – Flop (Dép tông)


A pair of “Lao” flip-flops (Source: Google)

Flip-Flop is a type of shoes which consists of a flat sole and a Y-shaped strap to slip toes in. This kind of sandals made its first appearance from 6,000 years ago and underwent changes and innovations depending on the period and area. There is a wide variety of flip-flops across the world: In Egypt, it is made from sedge; In China or Malaysia, the main material is straw and in Japan, this product uses wood to produce.

There is no exaggeration to say that flip-flop is the most famous sandals in the world because they bears a lot of different names and are favored by a great number of countries. While Australian and American use to call flip-flop “thongs”, New Zealanders name them “jandals” or “slip-slops” in South Africa. In Vietnam, flip-flops are often referred to as “Lao flip-flop” because Lao people used to wear these sandals when performing trade in the areas of Quang Tri, Nghe An and so on. Hence, people assign the name “Lao” to the flip-flop to differentiate it from other types of shoes.

Despite the simple design and flexible combination with different kinds of clothes, flip-flop is proved to be harmful to your feet and ankle. Thus, it is advisable to avoid wearing flip-flop for a long time and choosing the ones with sole or made of poor quality

Although these “legendary” types of footwear have no longer remained well-known among Vietnamese users, they have contributed greatly to the development and diversity of Vietnam modern history.

Tuong Vi





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