From warfare to peace: Vietnam’s rubber sandals march on

Made from recycled army truck or plane tyres, Vietnam’s hand-made rubber sandals, the famously rugged footwear of the Viet Cong, have travelled huge distances over the many years. Within the bustling capital Hanoi, all types of footwear are on sale: from $1,000 Gucci heels to $2 plastic slippers. However for these searching for a nod to yesteryear, the hard-soled rubber sandals-evocative of the communist state’s resourcefulness below fire-are obtainable at markets and small shops alike.

Uncle Ho’s sandals

Dao Van Quang paid $8 for the standard pair at a store exterior a Hanoi museum dedicated to the nation’s revolutionary leader-and devoted rubber sandal wearer-Ho Chi Minh. “I wore rubber sandals once I was at college, within the Nineteen Eighties,” the 47-year-old from central Quang Nam province informed AFP. “They’re of historic worth, simple to put on and look good.” On the museum, the well-worn pair belonging to the previous North Vietnam president identified affectionately as “Uncle Ho” are displayed in a glass field together with his Chinese language-style uniform.

Ho’s sandals have even been lauded in nationwide songs praising his easy way of life. “These sandals helped Uncle journey a good distance, and with them, he overcame difficulties to construct the nation,” the lyrics of 1 music say. The Vietnamese first started making rubber sandals within the late Forties, through the First Indochina Warfare in opposition to the French, utilizing tyres from an ambushed military truck.

They discovered the sandals had been low cost to make and survived effectively in moist, muddy and hilly circumstances, as troopers marched via thick jungle. Later, through the Vietnam Warfare, the easy however sturdy footwear grew to become an emblem of the communist Viet Cong forces’ ingenuity of their battle in opposition to america’ army would possibly. Even in peacetime, the design stays common for sustainability causes, mentioned Nguyen Duc Truong, who has spent his life crafting the footwear. “I feel there may be nonetheless a lot potential for rubber sandals,” the 58-year-old mentioned.

Rising reputation

Vietnam is among the world’s high 4 international locations for shoe manufacturing and its factories produce pairs for main manufacturers corresponding to Nike and Adidas. The footwear export business generated practically $12 billion within the first half of this 12 months, in line with authorities figures. Whereas the standard rubber sandal doesn’t fairly generate the identical income, it’s excessive on heritage worth and its reputation as an informal shoe is rising. Vua Dep Lop, which began as a small enterprise and have become Vietnam’s rubber sandal chief, sells the footwear for round $10 a pair.

This picture reveals staff slicing aside a rubber truck tyre exterior a workshop in Hanoi.

At its workshop in Hanoi, shoemakers use sharp knives and chisels to craft the sandals from enormous tyres which might be nearly the identical peak as the employees. Whereas the normal black fashions are bestsellers, a vibrant trendy twist helps the sandal attraction to a youthful demographic. Nguyen Tien Cuong took over the enterprise from his father-in-law in 2011, and has offered greater than half 1,000,000 pairs of rubber sandals since then. “We tried to make them softer and extra trendy. After altering the model and format, we began having extra clients,” he mentioned. – AFP



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