Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arcopedicos at Nahas!

In the window: So I’m walking down Charles Street at the bottom of Beacon Hill, and I stop to windowshop at Nahas, when, omg, I spy cute red comfort flats. Are those Arcopedicos!?!

Secret wish: While I wait for the sometimes cantankerous owner to bring out the Arcopedico Nature Vitorias in black/red ($145), I hope that maybe they’ll be perfect and I will buy them and not be tempted to return them and finally end my quest for comfortable flats.
Another disappointment: I hustle out of the small store after a few quick pictures. The owner is like a lion, and if you browse too long, the store begins to feel like a cage. That rounded and rather large toe box is just too goofy looking, and they are too wide for my narrow feet. That red in Croc-embossed patent is killer, though, and I am excited at the direction Arcopedico is going.

Experience of the brand: The only place I’d seen the brand before was Cambridge Clogs (, where they had the classic line, a style with a woven nylon upper that looked like a slipper-like sock sewn onto a sole. (See bottom pic) Not stylish, unless maybe you thought of them as a type of espadrille.

Arcopedico facts: The Portuguese company was founded in 1966 by Prof. Elio Parodi when he patented the Classic (bottom pic), a long-running bestseller. He believed that supporting the foot arch was crucial to sustaining the spine at a more convenient angle.

Arcopedico technical jargon: In the production of each shoe, the volumetric density for correct blood circulation and total foot coverage is tested. (volumetric WHAT?) The anatomic insole in boar skin of fibrous toweling is formed to give metatarsal support and a specific stability for the heel. (uh, BOAR skin?) The patented anatomic sole, PVC injected material, has twin supports to maintain the correct angle of foot arch support. The twin supports are adjustable on each foot, trimming with a knife blade. (oh. that's kind of COOL.) In a normal shoe the total weight of the body rests on three points only. This often causes pressure to the arch of the foot, as well as the big toe curvature, causing blisters and calluses. With the "Arcopedico shoes" the foot rests on the whole surface area of the insole. Consequently, there is less tiring of the foot arch and the elimination of blisters and callouses. Furthermore, the "Arcopedico shoes" exercise the foot, strengthen the muscles, assist the circulation of the blood and ensure more comfort in walking. (sounds like CLAIMS lots of other shoes are making these days.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spanish shoe discovery: Art Shoes

Through the wonder of the internet, I stumbled across a new (to me) stylish and comfortable-looking shoe brand — Art shoes. A Spanish brand with an orange logo that looks like an asterisk. The first Art style that I saw (above) is called "Levels 0092," from the current season, with the three-part cork wedge heel. (All images are from the Art Shop site, unless otherwise noted.)

This shoe pushes the line between playful and edgy, ugly and cool. In my biased opinion, Art shoes are more interesting and unusual than the well known but larger Spanish brands of Camper or El Naturalista.

The Art Company's "Who we are" page describes their target consumers — young people (18-30) who enjoy city life, are young at heart, non-conformist, independent, discreetly alternative and daring... Consumers of fashion, new technology, and cultural activities (cinema, theatre, concerts).

I suppose that could be me. I suppose I am "discreetly alternative"!

Learning about the brand was NOT easy. First issue — the name. The brand's website can be found on Google, but only if you are persistent enough to search for "the Art Company" (and don't get distracted by all the other results — although the 80s Dutch pop group's song "Suzanna" is a gem). Then select the listing with hyphens in the name.

If the Art(r) brand was founded by the Art Company(r) in 1995, then why haven't I seen it anywhere?

Because of the next issue — distribution, plus some website listing confusion. They are not distributed in the US, although I finally realized that they ship to the US from their online store, The Art Shop. I almost missed it because in the Art Shop's pull-down menu, I was looking for "United States" (silly me) instead of "The United States," which is 2 down from "The Lebanon." (Really?)

The English version of their website says they sell 1 million pairs of shoes, primarily to Spain, France, and Germany, and are represented in 5 continents. I found several British distributors, some of which deliver to the US, including Raw Shoes, Ruby Shoes Day (great name!), Steptoes, and Amazon UK.

Their Press/Fairs page says they are attending the Magic Marketplace show in Las Vegas this August, where I can only hope they pick up some daring American distributors, because their product looks amazing and I want to see them in Boston stores.

I downloaded their iPhone app, even though I don't order shoes online if I haven't tried them on in person first. I know, I know. Call me a dinosaur. But I've done enough catalog ordering, and returning, to sour me for a lifetime. (Unless I change my mind. I might.) The iPhone app allowed me to scan their Winter 09 collection, and if I registered, to shop from their online Art Shop, which was not really functional. The buttons were so small that my clumsy fingers kept triggering new pages. The iPhone app also let me go to their online community called "Metropolitan Soul," but the content there was sparse and generic.

In summary, it was exciting to see that they had an online presence, although it did feel uneven. There was no face or place attached to the brand, no mention of being located near Bilbao!

But enough with the serious stuff. Let's browse! Here are a variety of styles to feast your eyes on.

Above, the Stylish 0119, in multic. red, from the current season. You get your clog-wedge heel combined with your strappy sandal. Pleasantly confusing. A bit rough and playful. Very different. Begging to be tried on.

Above, the red-white Sevilla 0046, from the current season. Check out the American nickel on the vamp, on the brown style, below.

The heels on these first few styles show the brand's focus on architectural shapes. The soles of other styles further down, like the Tokio 0912, show the brand's focus on "the plastic arts" (aka rubber soles).

Above, the Vitra 0840, in multicolor opti, from the current season (although the style name was somewhat obscured by a nav bar on the Women's Art Shop page).

Above, the awesome cage sandal Tokio 0912, in red, from the current season. Swoon. I love red. And even though that wedge heel looks higher than anything I own or would wear, I would totally try it on. Just to be sure. Because it's a rubber wedge sole, and I feel safer in rubber soles.

Above, the Stylish W760, wedge heel, in brown, past season. (Image from Scorpio Shoes, Durham, United Kingdom.) The ankle strap adds a nice twist to the current clog craze. Not really my thing, but I wanted to show some variety.

Above, the grey Oteiza 0620, from the current season. Not just a slingback. Not just a Mary Jane. But a little of both. (A Sling Jane?) It actually has a geometric sculpted heel. Let's get a better look.

And it's rubber. Cool? Or weird? Both?

Above, the Berlin 0744, in painted black, from the current season. With another rubber sole. Check it out, immediately below.

That Berlin 0744 sole looks like a stop light, right?

Above, the gladiator-like Valencia 0982, in black, from the current season (although the style name was somewhat obscured by a nav bar on the Women's Art Shop page). For women like myself who love flat rubber soles. 

Above, the Skyline 0644, in Tibet Red, from past season. (Image from Scorpio Shoes, Durham, United Kingdom.) I love the roughness of this rubber sole. It looks like a bright little tractor!

Above, the Air Alpine 0906, in Tartain/Ch.Carbo, from the current season. Sort of Dr. Martens-ish, no?

I'd love to hear from anyone who has these or any other Art shoe styles! Are they as comfortable as they look?