Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Northeast, but for as long as I can remember, every summer, I find myself surrounded by women—of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and walks of life—wearing Jack Rogers sandals. You know, those dressy flat thong sandals with the circular cut-out in the middle? They come in a bazillion color combinations and go with just about everything—from cute shorts and tees to flippy summer dresses.
Well, a few weeks ago, I popped by the Jack Rogers showroom here in New York to check out the brand’s winter boots (!) and other fun holiday accessories—and I learned something new.
Did you know that Jackie Kennedy is almost single-handedly responsible for making Jack Rogers happen?
To get the full scoop, I caught up with Jack Rogers’ CEO and Creative Director Clare Schultheis, who told me all about the company’s early days—and how it all started at Jackie Kennedy’s personal cobbler’s in Palm Beach.
“In 1960, Jackie was on vacation in Capri and fell in love with this sandal she saw there—it had whipstitching and she especially loved the roundel detail,” Schultheis told me. “She came back Stateside, gave a pair to her cobbler in Palm Beach, and asked him to make her a few pairs in a few different colors.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
“Her friends fell in love with it and asked the cobbler to make them some shoes, too,” Schultheis says. “The stores in the area wanted to start carrying the shoe—and word got back to the small footwear factory in the area. And they did the rest!”
Today, that same small factory that first started producing Jack Rogers sandals in the 1960s is still producing Jack Rogers sandals. And it’s all thanks to Jackie.
“We definitely refer to the idea of her as our muse,” Schultheis says about the design process. “We feel that she has a classic and timeless style, and so as we’re making and creating and designing each style, we think: ‘If Jackie were here today, would she wear something like this?'”
Here’s something I’m definitely wearing when I go on vacation this winter (and well into spring and summer): Jack Rogers’ new jelly sandal. It’s so cute—and only $49, which is nearly one-third the price of the brand’s classic shoe. I think it also makes a great under-$50 holiday gift!