A Flip Flop Emoji is Finally Here, Thanks to REEF

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Humans have been wearing flip flops for a long time, with ancient Egyptian murals depicting them in use as far back as 4000BC. Japanese call them zōri, Australians confusingly call them thongs (or pluggers), South Africans call them slip-slops, New Zealanders call them jandals, and the rest of us use the name flip flops – an onomatopoeia of the sound they make while walking,

No matter what you call them, flip flops are synonymous with the beach lifestyle. They became fashionable in the 1960s as unisex footwear representing freedom and providing high functionality at a low cost. It’s no surprise that flip flops and surfing were a match made in heaven. The rest is history – and history has again been made in 2020 when the humble flip flop will be immortalised in the form of an emoji – thanks to a campaign by REEF footwear. From hieroglyphs to emojis – what a trip!

Did you know the hashtag #flipflops was used over 1.6 million times on Instagram at the time this article was published? Well, the questionable missing emoji also made its rounds on Twitter, where users openly expressed their opinions on the matter:

With these findings, surf brand REEF knew it was time to take action. In 2019, they developed a captivating proposal to demonstrate that people adore their flip flops and brought it to the governing body of all emojis, Unicode. Yes, there is a governing body, even for emojis.

That’s why you can send an emoji from an Apple device to an Android device and they look vaguely the same.

Flip flip IRL (in real life). Inspiration for the flip flop emoji.

As of last week, the emoji has officially been approved, and you may see it popping up within texts and beach-bound Insta captions as soon as this upcoming summer.

Here are some possible design variants you can expect.

Interview with Mike Jensen from REEF

We asked Mike Jensen, President of REEF, a few questions.

What were some highlights and challenges during the Emoji petitioning process?

Petitioning for a flip flop emoji has been a fun process for us. The biggest challenge was all the research. Figuring out where to start, what data we needed to collect, how to put it together, where to submit and constantly checking on status updates. Unicode is a global committee that decides on which emojis to draft for global adoption. We’re thrilled that our flip flop has made it to the final round and will officially be in the keyboard for 2020 and can’t wait to use it. 

REEF is one of surfing’s most beloved brands. What are some of the REEF values?    

At REEF we strive to unite the world around the fun, freedom and spirit of the beach. We celebrate irreverence and boldness. We believe in the healing powers of the ocean and fight to protect it. We support all beach lovers alike and we make the most comfortable sandals in the world.

What is the future of surf footwear? 

Footwear has traditionally been designed to fit this care-free lifestyle, driven by style and comfort. The truth is, that as surfers and beach lovers ourselves, we have a passion for leaving this planet better than how we found it. We’re obsessed with creating innovative product that is environmentally friendly and sustainable, without compromising our comfort and durability. That is our responsibility as a surf brand and we hope to rally as many as possible behind our cause.

How will you use the flip flop emoji?

As different devices rollout the latest Unicode update you may discover the new flip flop emoji appearing as an option on your keyboard. If you can’t find it you can try typing some of the keywords associated with the emoji: thong sandal | beach sandals | sandals | thong sandal | thong sandals | thongs | zōri.

Here is an idea for using the emoji in a text message:

Waves are pumping

Let’s go


We think the flip flop emoji will be used to represent themes like: cruising, relaxed, summertime, surf check and holiday.

Other emojis released in January 2020 include a gender-neutral Santa, a transgender flag and men rocking veils. Playing into this gender inclusiveness behind the array of new symbols, REEF’s proposal noted that the flip flop icon is the first open-toed sandal represented that is casual, unisex and embodies multiple meanings and uses.

Well done REEF. We look forward to a Mick Fanning flip flop bottle opener emoji someday in the future.

Or maybe just a Mick Fanning emoji – how good would that be!

Find out more about REEF at: https://www.reef.com/