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The Poole man whose unique brand of flip flops have gone global

The flip flops come with a canvas upper that marks the style and traditional look of these flip flops. The canvas ensures that the feet are in place and the flip flops remain attached comfortably at all times, without bothering the wearer at all.

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The Poole man whose unique brand of flip flops have gone global

  1. 1. The Poole man whose unique brand of flip flops have gone global Walking along the beaches of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch this summer, the chances are you’ll spot someone in a pair of Gumbies flip flops. Even if you holiday in far-flung climes, you’ll probably see a pair or two on your travels, as the footwear, founded by Poole-born and bred Michel Maurer, is quickly becoming iconic. The idea for the design was first born when keen traveller Michel was visiting Manly in New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1990s and noticed the “lifestyle footwear” many people were wearing. “The surf culture and the world we are involved in, we’ve just been around, seeing ideas, certain ideas, making things, feeling things,” explained Michel, who lives in Lilliput. “The things that inspired me the most were flip flops. I was always into the beach and surfing and I thought ‘how could I make a living out of something I enjoy?’
  2. 2. “I’ve got family in Manly, I’ve spent a lot of time there, in Australia and California. If you’re not wearing boots if you’re on a farm, you’re in flip flops 24/7. It’s ‘The Shoe’, you don’t wear anything else.” Later, seeing a need for quality, different footwear for the UK and European market, Michel worked for a few years developing products that were very different to anything on the market. He has since had that design registered. Today, the flip flops, all made from natural and recycled, planet-friendly materials, are available across the UK and Europe, as well as in Australia and America. “My hobby is motorbikes, the sole is recycled rubber so it’s got the grip,” explained Michel of the inspiration for the unique design feature. “I’ve spend my life looking at Brownsea Island, hence The Islander flip flops. Gumbies is from Australia, rubber, gum, gum tree, Gumbies.” Michel is proud that he and his team have come up with a design which he feels appeals to all ages and all types of people. The popular £20 Islander range is now available in a wide range of colours, with a twist on the design being produced each year.
  3. 3. “Because we’ve got different designs, it’s like a blank canvas,” said Michel, “we try anything. There’s something for everyone and people will buy two or three different styles. “This is a good, honest product. We’ve managed to get a following now and we are opening up accounts globally.” Gumbies has branched out and now also produces deck shoes, boots and T- shirts, but the flip flop is clearly its stand-out product. “Sometimes you’ve got to have just one product and go with it and keep developing it,” said Michel.
  4. 4. “The product sells itself. I studied the shoe market. You look at all the successful brands, whether it’s Converse, or Hush Puppies, Vans, once people start grabbing it, it becomes its own little thing. “But why try and be clever with all sorts of things? Just grab one product and go with that. Our product sells to kids, to older people.” Michel, who is also planning to come up with a “slider”, or criss-cross design, is now focusing on getting the brand known globally. “This year we’ve sold 75,000 pairs,” he said. “My goal is to sell one million pairs. We are trying to be simple – simple solutions for the footwear industry. We like flip flops. We’re good at flip flops. We want to make the best flip flops ever made and to be number one. “It’s very exciting. A lady came in and said ‘they’re the best flip flops I’ve ever had’. That just brightens up your day.” Gumbies Islanders are stocked in the Gumbies warehouse shop in Poole, in Poole Harbour Watersports near Sandbanks and in Ocean Blue, Swanage. Visit Source