I was super excited to review these Jerusalem Jaffa flip flops. Something about them grabbed my attention with visions of strolls at sunset along an exotic beach, maybe a camel or two loping along in the distance behind me. The lure of Jerusalem Sandal’s hand-made leather flip flops, with camel-logo embossed on heal of the in-sole and the tread of the outsole, seemed to hold the potential for real flip flop bliss.
Now, austere is a word that I don’t use often nor is it a word that I’ve ever used when experiencing any sort of bliss. Yet, that is the word that crept into my mind while holding my first pair of Jerusalem Sandals Jaffa flip flops in my hands.
“The good news is that the Jaffa flip flop is not the Cold War era Eastern Bloc sort of austere.”
We all know that there are multiple degrees of “austere” that range roughly from the1970’s East Berlin slate grey and painfully functional architectural style to choosing to purchase Rainier beer by the case instead of that six pack of Ballast Point Sculpin Grapefruit IPA that you’ve had your eye on for a while now but just can’t justify spending the same amount of cash for a quarter of the beer.
The good news is that the Jaffa flip flop is not the Cold War era, Eastern Bloc, sort of austere. Which is a plus for sure. However, they’re also not quite to the mass vs. craft beer stage either. They fall somewhere in between in the, “why yes, I did make this blouse myself” range with a touch of, “and you know what? The material is actually re-purposed flour sacks.”
For starters, one shoe, the left shoe, is a full quarter inch shorter than the right shoe. This is enough of a discrepancy that the toes of my left foot hang over the edges of the flip flop, while those of my right foot sit comfortably on the footbed, as toes should on a flip flop that fits. It took me a while to figure this out because shoes of the same size, marked as that size and arriving in the same box have always been the same size, in my experience. But, holding them sole to sole it was obvious that the left flip flop was lying.
The leather used to make the strap and footbed seems like it has the potential to break in nicely after a few years of non-stop wear and walking however, the thumbnail sized brass tack between the toes used to connect one strap to the other prevents this from happening. Why they would place a brass rivet between the toes is a total mystery to me. But, it is consistent with the overall cave-craft aesthetic.
“… it was obvious that the left flip flop was lying.”
The sole is interesting in that it is wedge shaped sloping up as you move from toe to heel. These are the closest I’ve come to wearing kitten-heeled flip flops. The grade increase is just subtle enough that it’s not immediately noticeable but once you do notice, it’s hard not to feel. Keeping with their do-it-yourself motif the soles are made of a plasticky rubber that reminds me of early attempts at synthetic arena flooring. It is very hard yet somewhat impressionable, like asphalt.
The combination of the hard and thick tapered heel, mis-matched shoe sizes, large brass tacks between the toes, and slick leather footbeds make walking in these really challenging, but in grab-bag of ways. If you’re not sliding out of them due to the slick footbed, then you’re likely rolling your ankle due to the high and narrow heel, or scraping the toes on you left foot across the ground while the brass tacks dredge out pea-sized craters between your toes on both feet. So there is variety if that’s something you look for in discomfort.
Despite my trying as hard as possible to get these flip flops to live up to my expectations I’m forced to admit that they’re not for me. Even after spending weeks with the Jaffa flip flops and lowering my expectations from walks along a beach with camels loping in the background to just trying to walk to the mailbox and back with minimal injury, I could not embrace them.