The store, the first in the U.S. for the Brazilian maker of flip-flops and sandals, has a customization station and special World Cup-themed sandals.

Havaianas, the Brazilian maker of fashionable flip-flops, opens its first U.S. store Sunday, June 27, in Huntington Beach.

Located on Pacific Coast Highway across from the Huntington Beach Pier, the 1,250-square-foot Havaianas store includes a permanent customization station, where you can design your own pair of flip-flops by choosing a strap and contrasting foot bed with the option of adding a Swarovski crystal charm before a machine clamps everything into place.

The Havaianas boutique, designed by Criacitta, also based in Sao Paulo, features fun furniture that matches the theme — a chandelier made from mini sandals and flip-flop-inspired stools. Walls are covered with a colorful array of 150 Havaianas styles, ranging in price from $18 to $26 for women, men, children and babies.

“The attitude of the brand matches the Southern California lifestyle,”

says Glen Lagerstrom, executive vice president of Alpargatas USA, which handles sales and distribution for the brand nationwide. Lagerstrom says the brand plans to open retail stores throughout 2011 in key cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

Havaianas, which means Hawaiians in Portuguese, was founded in 1962 in Sao Paulo and based its shoe on the “zori,” a Japanese sandal with a rice straw sole. Havaianas foot beds still have a faux textured rice pattern, but in the last decade, the shoe has departed from its humble origins as an everyday sandal in Brazil to become an accessible international luxury item. This led to a partnership with jeweler H Stern to make a flip-flop encrusted with 18-karat gold and diamonds in 2004.

The Orange County Havaianas store will carry brand exclusives such as the new Art Nouveau and Art Deco design collections, plus this year’s special collaborations with Conservation International, an environmental nonprofit based in Arlington, Va., and Threadless, an Internet-based do-it-yourself design community.

For Conservation International, Havaianas created three marine-life-inspired foot beds that retail for $24, with 7% of sale proceeds pledged to marine conservation efforts in Brazil. The Threadless collaboration, in-store by July 12, features $25 flip-flops featuring two designs “crowd-sourced” through an online design challenge, plus four popular graphics from the Chicago company’s design community.

The store carries sandals Havaianas created for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the colors of the qualifying national teams, including the U.S. and Brazil. In 1998, Havaianas first created a sandal for the Brazilian national team with a small flag on the strap, though Brazil, a five-title winner, didn’t capture the World Cup that year.

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