Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aerosoles on my brand horizon

During a post-work stop at Marshalls, I considered (for about fifteen minutes) buying these surprisingly stylish, black patent Aerosole sandals for a mere $29.99. Nice closed heel, nice low strap around the ankle made it easy to slip into, nice low wedge. I wore them as long as I could to test their comfort, and when my left pinkie toe started to rub against the wide strap across my upper foot, my decision not to buy was made for me.

But now the brand is on my horizon. I’m ready to reconsider my long-held opinion of Aerosoles as merely derivative and not quite stylish or comfortable enough. My opinion was probably based on their all-time best seller, the 4 Give (see pink patent version below). Apologies to the number of friends who wear them!

So what’s the brand’s story? I go to their website and somehow stumble on to “About Aerosoles,” which is not on any nav bar. I find five paragraphs of lifeless prose, a lost opportunity. Sample: “Our mission statement is to be the #1 product-driven footwear company in the world.”

That’s it? Contrast a statement from one of my favorite brands, Ecco (from Zappos’s site, under Ecco FAQ): “the aim is not to sell the most shoes but to sell the best.”

I want to know about Aerosole’s flexible soles, but there is no reference to them, except for maybe three logos on the bottom of the “Our Brands” page: Aerology by Aerosoles, Sole by Aerosoles, and Flexation by Aerosoles.

But wait! Zappos comes through, under Aerosole FAQ: “What is an Aero sole?” The Aerosole is a special diamond pattern on the bottom of the sole, which adds to the flexibility, but also absorbs impact and disperses it evenly across the foot. We also incorporate “memory foam” which molds to the foot the first time you wear it and then bounces back every time instead of going flat. Many of our bottoms are a thermal plastic and poly-vinyl rubber composition, which are lightweight and flexible.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ferragamo: Shoe Tribute to Warhol

Throughout his career, Andy Warhol sought out commercial projects, including silk-screened portraits of fashion celebrities, like Giorgio Armani, and advertisements for luxury perfumes, like Chanel No. 5. (1st image: parisconnected blog; 2nd image: warhol-art blog)

Shoes were also a subject of his, starting in 1955 when he was hired by I. Miller to breathe new life into their ad campaign. Many of his illustrations were collected into a book called “Shoes, Shoes, Shoes.”

He returned to the subject of shoes in 1980 with his diamond dust series (not really diamond dust, which was too chalky, but crushed glass). Colorful shoe images against a glittering black background. These are my favorite!

In a deserving twist of fate, Salvatore Ferragamo, a historic luxury shoe company with a tradition of “shoeing” the stars of old Hollywood, is issuing a special edition of the Salvatore, the asymmetric lace-up calfskin brogue that Andy Warhol wore while painting in his studio in the eighties.

The special edition model comes complete with white, red, green, and pink paint splatters, faithful replicas of the shoes the Ferragamo family bought at a Christie’s auction for $7,800 in June 2006.

The style of Warhol’s brogue was the only men’s style designed by Salvatore Ferragamo, who wore them himself, and died in 1960.

Available at the end of March at certain flagship locations for $990, the shoe will be part of Ferragamo’s Creations collection, based on historical designs from their archives reissued in limited editions twice a year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

MARSHALLS Try Ons: Söfft gladiator and Nine West ballet flat

On the shelves of the Boylston Street Marshalls shoe department, among the hundreds of shoes, Söfft’s Rori black patent gladiator ($39.99) caught my eye. I put them on while I continued browsing up and down the size eights. The ankle strap felt good, keeping the fit snug. (See the wrinkles on my ankles from my wool socks? New England weather is so fickle.)

The cushioned sole was almost comfortable enough, but the narrow "feminine" heel made the shoe a little wobbly. (See the shoe view from the back, below, c/o

I have one pair of Söffts (that’s Söfft with an umlaut over the “o,” mind you) from about three years ago, but they were literally plain Mary Jane's, and not as stylish as Söfft's current line. I’m guessing this is a(nother) case where the comfort brand finally gets stylish enough to notice. Which reminds me of a comment I overheard at the new mega-Tannery store on Boylston. A woman was trying on the Söfft Vanessa, which has a 3-5/8” heel with a 3/4” platform.

“I’m so ashamed that I love these shoes,” she said, sounding positively giddy. “They look so dangerous, like I should be carrying a whip. Right?”

Being an avid non-heel wearer, I just smiled. I didn’t have the heart to talk her out of them. And I know that it’s fun finding a shoe that’s comfortable and looks good. Like a crow attracted to shiny objects, I had also been drawn straight to the brand's same shiny black patent leather line.

BRAND RESEARCH: I was surprised to learn Söfft has been around since 1927. I gotta say that I’m curious about that umlaut. Part of their tagline is: “Where European design meets comfort,” but their address is Andover, Massachusetts! Is there really a European connection? I do love their coinage for the category: “Fashion Comfort.” Very smart, actually. Also like the shoe category coinage of “athleisure” in Zappos’s “About Söfft” description, although I am aware that Söfft may not have been the first to use it. So my message to Söfft is, tell me more about your brand than your standard blurb. Put it somewhere on your website, preferably under “About.” Thank you! (And yes, I will friend you on Facebook for a little while.)

NINE WEST: I also tried on the Nine West gold ballet flat ($29.99) because, despite all my emphasis on comfort, I am tempted to sacrifice support if the flat is compact enough to fit in my backpack for those few times when I’m wearing rain boots to work and want to change when I get there. Unfortunately these were too tight in the toe, although just right for my narrow foot — very cute and surprisingly comfortable with a great rubber sole. I have minor regrets about passing them up!

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Shoe Blog Dedication

I am dedicating my first post in this blog to a woman I met in the Providenciales airport on my way home from vacation. She was the perfect example of a woman needing comfortable shoes. The only sales clerk at the small airport shop called Maison Creole, she stood for most of every day.

I fingered several horn necklaces from Haiti (not more than 90 miles south) and knew I wanted one of them, but was feeling particularly ambivalent about which one. While discussing the necklaces with me, the woman said her feet hurt and then I noticed she was barefoot. I peeked at her shoes over by the register. Turquoise mini-wedge strappy sandals, as I recall.

Later, I realized this woman was a prime customer for the kind of shoe that I wear and love and want to spread the word about. And so I dedicate my blog to her, and women all over, who need to stand or want to walk for long periods and who want comfortable shoes that make their feet feel and look good.