A tale of the iconic summer sandal

Our story begins with Jackie Kennedy and a trip she took. She discovered a sandal and fell in love. She brought the sandal back to a cobbler in Palm Beach and asked him to recreate it.  Well, it became a popular summer sandal among the Palm Beach elite including the princess of preppy beach style, Lilly Pulitzer, herself.  Eventually, every preppy closet boasted a pair or two of Bonanno’s.

jackie_in_bonannos

A short while later, another company based in Miami, Jack Rogers, started to mass produce a similar style shoe.  Jack’s were, in fact, the original knock off’s, while Bonannos were  the “go-to” brand.  Bonanno’s were sold locally to those wintering in Palm Beach while Jack’s became readily available to those less fortunate to winter anywhere warm.  Without Jack’s, the coveted Palm Beach Sandal sandal may not have enjoy such wide appeal. Both summer sandals have a cult following, with people loyal to one or the other and rarely do fans switch sides.

Interestingly, a few years ago Bonanno’s seemed to disappear from the radar. Things got crazy after their semiannual sale. Customers bought sandals from them and unfortunately never received their purchases. This event created quite a distrust of the brand leaving those faithful fans to take to the blogosphere, twitter and any other social commentary site they could to trash the company. No matter how many calls were made, no one managed to either be refunded their money or receive the sandals they purchased. It left a lot of loyal customers pissed off and scratching their heads trying to understand how a brand as iconic as Bonanno’s could screw over the customer.

As this was playing out, I spotted Jack Rogers on sale at RueLaLa and treated myself to my first pair of Jackie inspired summer foot wear.  For a while, I kept an eye out for Bonnano’s and discovered the website had been taken down and there was no trace of this iconic brand anywhere. I always wondered what had happened, as so many the blogs I followed at the time were loyal to the brand.

I recently purchased a pair the iconic summer sandals made by the Palm Beach Sandal Company at DSW. Honestly, I thought I was buying a a cheap knock off of both Jack’s and Bonanno’s as it wasn’t a familiar brand to me. My fear of buying a knock off of a knock off sent me to Google to find the origin and backstory of this brand claiming to be the authentic Palm Beach Sandal. What I discovered was a bit sad to say the least. Bonanno’s were no more, gone was the sixty year old brand made famous by Jackie O.

There was a divorce and Steven Bonanno had to turn over the entire business to his ex-wife. Can you imagine having to give up the company your family built to your ex?  Bizarre!  As most divorces go there may have been quite a bit of animosity that led to the trashing of the Bonanno brand.  This didn’t stop her. She apparently rebranded the company as Palm Beach Sandal Company. She set up a new website, did away with the custom sandal widget and started to sell to retail outlets.

Now that I have both brands, I am not sure I prefer one to the other. The differences are simple. Jacks are available at Nordstrom’s and Palm Beach Sandals are an online purchase only, unless you frequent Palm Beach. The soles of Jack’s are rubber, while Palm Beach uses a full leather sole.  Jack’s uppers are painted leather while Palm Beach dies their uppers. Both brands have similar price points, making price a non-issue.  Jack’s are made overseas, and Palm Beach Sandals are made in the USA.

Do you have a preference, if so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts.