Jelly Shoes

Jelly Shoes

Fashion and comfort don’t always go hand-in hand, or in this case, foot-in-foot. Sometimes sacrifices are necessary to look your stylish best, and if that meant wearing a shoe molded from plastic, so be it. jelly shoes were fashionable in a futuristic, Jetsons sort of way, making them quite popular in the 80s, despite the fact that your feet weren’t going to thank you for the experience.

Plastic shoes first became popular with the beach crowd, thanks to their water-resistent capabilities, by way of flip-flops and sandals, but the arrival of the 80s brought the fashion into the mainstream. It started when manufacturers of athletic shoes were toying with new shoe ideas. They already had the equipment in place to make molded plastic soles for running shoes when it occurred to someone, “Hey, let’s make the whole shoe out of molded plastic!”

Almost overnight, there was a new form of footwear on the block, one stylish enough, and affordable enough, to appeal to the masses. The era of the jelly shoe had arrived. They were first rolled out at the 1982 World’s Fair and, soon after, Bloomingdales in NYC ordered 2,400 pairs for their store, available in nine different styles.

Jelly shoes were undeniably futuristic and they flew off store shelves as quickly as they were stocked. But they came with a price, and that price was lack of comfort. Despite efforts to make them breathe better, through the use of creative designs like the huarachi lattice-weave, you were still dealing with solid PVC plastic that was unforgiving and sure to get those feet sweating in no time.

Efforts were made in the 90s to increase the comfort quotent. Softer plastics were used in the manufacturing process that afforded a little more give. And, in a nod to the era, many were now adorned with the stylish sparkle of glitter. These efforts gave the jelly shoe a second life, and gave women another opportunity to adorn their feet with something that would have made Judy Jetson smile.

If you had a few pairs of jelly shoes in your closet back in the day, we’d love to hear your own memories of this less-than-comfortable footwear in our comments section below.

2 Responses to “Jelly Shoes”

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  1. Gina says:

    You know, I totally missed this fad. Don’t remember it at all. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those rare ladies who doesn’t care much about shoes. All I care about is that they protect my feet and make it easier to walk.

  2. Ryan says:

    I remember the girls wearing these in 3rd grade (1983-84). After playing on the dirt playground, their feet and the shoes would be filthy with sweat and dirt made mud.

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