Bet you didn't know where Tevas came from.

By Jason Sheeler
March 19, 2019
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Courtesy of Teva

The Teva sandal was born in the Grand Canyon. Which is to say that one day in 1984 a river guide and geophysicist named Mark Thatcher fashioned Velcro watch straps onto a flip-flop and the world’s first ugly-chic, multi-purpose sandal was born (U.S. patent #4,793,075). And while that patent has now expired — meaning you can buy this low-end imitation and this very high end take — there will always be only one Teva. (Pronounced teh-vuh, by the way, Hebrew for “nature.”) And every pair of Tevas will always be made to withstand the Colorado River’s ferocious rapids snaking through the Canyon.

So when the brand’s global manager Anders Bergstrom realized the canyon’s 100th anniversary was coming up — marking a century since the area was designated a national park — he knew there had to be special collection. But he also wanted to celebrate the brand’s founding (Thatcher sold the company in 2002) by helping the next generation of river guides. Teva is donating $100,000 to the Grand Canyon Conservancy, which will benefit scholarships to the Canyon Field School as well as to help restore one of the main trails on the south rim, the Bright Angel Trail.

Courtesy of Teva

To buy: teva.com

And for Teva fans — which are legion — the company has released the GC100 collection. Spoiler alert, the collection looks like Tevas: five new styles with the signature webbing rendered in shades of the Canyon walls at different times of the day. The shoes never look so far off from what Thatcher made with his own two hands. “I mean the original shoe, which I have right here,” says Bergstrom in his Santa Barbara office, “looks exactly like a river guide designed it. There is no nuance. Something that looks weird does tend to find an audience.” 

He brings up Uggs and Crocs and other names that now represent entire categories of footwear, and may live on to become nouns, like Coke, Chapstick, and Kleenex. “You mean like Teevas?” he asks with a laugh.

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