Gandys: footwear and fashion to help the orphans of the Tsunami

Posted on 22/02/2018 by Eileen Schuch
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Gandys London Orphans for Orphans

Gandys is more than just a fashion brand. Created by Rob and Paul Forkan, it endorses a humanitarian mission: helping Tsunami orphans and other orphans around the world. How can anyone take this incredible drama and transform the experience into something positive that eventually leads to an amazing philanthropist business? Let’s have a look at what we know.

It’s 2004, just after Christmas. A devastating wave surprises Rob, Paul, the two cadets Mattie and Rosie and their parents, Kevin and Sandra. Rob and Paul manage to climb on the roof of the bungalow they occupied. When the water receded, Rob saw his brother Mattie, perched on a tree, his face dotted with blood. Unharmed, the three brothers will recover their little sister later – a full 9 years later, to be precise! However, they never found their parents, who seemed to just have had time to bring the kids into safety before being taken away by the waters.

Devastated by the loss of their parents, without money or passport, they hitchhiked 200 miles to the airport, to join the rest of their family. Once landed in London, their older sister, Mary, supported them. The search for their parents, from hospital to hospital, and the countless scenes of horror still torment the siblings today.

It’s been five years since they started feet first into the adventure of Gandys, called Gandys Flip Flops at the time, selling sandals. When they had finished their studies, with little ambition, Rob and Paul travelled for four years, to discover the world, volunteering in various orphanages and children’s homes. Roaming the world in flip-flops, the idea of launching a brand of flip-flops seemed a good starting point to bring their convictions to live. London, with its capricious weather, may not seem to be the best place to sell flip-flops, but here they were, in their flat in Brixton, with their feet firmly on the ground, clad, of course, in flip-flops. Initially, the press, the media and the shop owners didn’t take them seriously. But they could count on the support from some very important people!

From billionaire Richard Branson to the boy band One Direction, they stake their claim. Then, they take a Virgin flight to begin to conquer the world. Standing firm, they have not lost grip and have established themselves strongly. Wrapped in a glaring success, they follow their values and dress people of status.

The brothers even got a royal invitation: William and Harry invited them to Buckingham Palace. True to themselves, Rob and Paul turn up – you guessed it – in their flip-flops. Laughing, William asked them if they were heading for the pool!

After winning the WGSN Global Awards in London for the design of their footwear, more success followed, and Gandys gained momentum and notoriety.

The idea goes back to a festival, where the phrase “I’ve got a mouth like Ghandi’s flip-flops” was heard. Drawing their inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, these flip-flops became the icon of a warm assistance from orphans to orphans.

Since founding their organisation Orphans For Orphans, Rob and his brother Paul have opened their first orphanage in the heart of the Indian Ocean, in Sri Lanka, changed the name of their company from Gandys Flip Flops to Gandys, taking into account the evolution of its product portfolio, and opened their first store in London!

Footwear with Heart: one foot across the Channel, another in Asia

The sandals are made of 100% rubber. They are biodegradable and eco-friendly – even the packaging is recyclable. Flip-Flops are available in several models and colours: their funky look is renewed with trending models. Chose from models in plain colours or with original prints. Be they casual, trendy or super comfortable: they have it all. The flip-flops carry a passport stamp with the inscription “Orphans for Orphans”.

The sales help to pay for medical supplies, the recruitment of teachers, and especially for the above-mentioned orphanage in Sri Lanka. Having launched the idea of shoes for a good cause, Gandys Flip Flops have already seduced a number of Famous Feet like Jessica Alba, Michelle Keegan and many more! And now, Gandys also carries bags, hats, towels and accessories. You can read about about their story in the book Tsunami Kids: Our Journey from Survival to Success. Join the Gandys Movement!

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