Cheap, cheerful and totally disposable, the plastic jelly shoe is about as ubiquitous as footwear gets. ....
In countries like Brazil, where the open shoe keeps feet ventilated and gritty beach sand from clinging, it is little wonder that humble jellies are big business. There, they are as much a part of the lifestyle as the bikini. So where else could a single jelly shoe brand seduce design snobs, fashionistas and the masses alike - to the tune of about 2.3 million pairs a year.
In mom-and-pop style stalls on the outskirts of São Paulo's favelas, Melissa is the status-bearing brand among the many rival plastic sandals and flip-flops in the bargain bins. Yet just up in the hill at Melissa's flagship concept boutique in the luxury triangle of Oscar Freire, customers spending 50 times as much for crystal-studded versions eagerly await the release of new styles created by the world's most provocative architects and fashion designers.
How is a brand that started by selling plastic packaging for wine crates able to straddle both worlds and defy the business caveat that you can't be everything to everyone?
"Many companies around the world produce plastic shoes and this category is extremely popular. But our way of positioning Melissa as an authentic design object is through its intellectual value," said Edson Matsuo, the brand's creative director, who pointed out that the more exclusive ranges of Melissa are now found around the world in fashion retail meccas like Colette in Paris, Opening Ceremony in New York and Dover Street Market in London.