Category Archives: Shoes

These Aren’t Your Mother’s Penny Loafers

If you visit this blog often enough, you know that I like to talk about American-inspired shoes that I come across up here in the Nordic region of the world.  So in my latest installment, I give you…Swedish Hasbeens’ loafers!

While AMERICANA was at Bakåt:Framåt vintage fair a few weekends ago, we had the good fortune of being neighbors with the ladies from Swedish Hasbeens.  They are a fun & super-sweet bunch of girls. We immediately fell in love with some of their new styles, as well as the classics they had on display.

These shoes are straight-up fashionista certified back home in the States, where Sarah Jessica Parker has given up her Manolos for Swedish Hasbeens.  Personally, I love their nod to their American fans through their American-Swedish remix of penny loafers & clogs.

Indeed, penny loafers were inspired by Scandinavian shoes, as I mentioned in this post. Plus, Americans have been worshipping clogs for decades, as also noted in my earlier video blog.

So hats off to Swedish Hasbeens for bringing the Swedish-American mutual admiration society a bit closer!

Now, all I need are a couple of pennies for the cut-out part of my new shoes…or should I place a couple of kronor there instead? 😉

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Filed under Penny Loafers, Shoes

The Maine Hunting Shoe: A Classic Re-Mix

When writing the latest blog posts for AMERICANA about L.L. Bean & Sticking With The Classics, I was reminded about the Maine Hunting Shoe & how it’s been re-mixed over the years.

Maine Hunting Shoe via L.L. Bean

 

Since 1912, L.L. Bean has been making the the classic “duck boot” in a variety of styles they have developed over the years. One can say that this humble hunting boot is the backbone of L.L. Bean, both as a brand and a company.

During the last wave of prep/ivy/classic American fashion, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik came out with a version of the Maine Hunting shoe for women, with a stiletto heel and pointed toe in 1978.

Manolo Blahnik's Maine Hunting Shoe 1978 via Foster Huntington

 

For Fall/Winter 2010, Tommy Hilfiger re-worked the Maine Hunting Shoe once again for high fashion, with several twists on the old classic.  Hilfiger’s designs delighted some, while horrifying others.

via Tommy Hilfiger Fall/Winter 2010

Tommy Hilfiger Fall/Winter 2010 via New York Magazine

Tommy Hilfiger Fall/Winter 2010 via New York Magazine

 

I think that’s what seperates classic American style from fleeting trends.  The ability to wear the original, a re-mix or both at the same time, with a nod to the past and the confidence to wear it today and onward toward tomorrow.

Should classic designs be left alone or is it ok to re-mix them for a new look?

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My American Hometown Shoe Store

This is the first installment in a series about the people, places & things from my recent trip to America…

In just about every small town in America, there’s a little shoe store that carries quality brands for local customers. Many of these shoe stores are a family business that have been serving generations.

I guess I’m lucky because where I come from, our local family-run shoe store is Sears Shoe Store in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

This store has nothing to do with Sears, the big American department store chain.  Rather, it’s owned by the Sears family who have been shoeing people of the Tennessee Valley for decades.  My grandparents shopped there for work shoes as well as “Sunday shoes,” my parents still shop there, and when I’m in the States, I shop there for myself and my children.


Sears is chock full of all kinds of quality footwear goodness for men, women & children, representing the best brands from the United States as well as fashion brands known around the world.


The thing I love most about Sears is that you can always find dead stock somewhere in their cavernous maze of shoes.  If you ask the staff, they can pull just about anything out of their floor-to-ceiling stacks of shoes.

This includes vintage baby shoes, ladies heels from the 1960s or, as I asked for & got on a recent visit, a pair of white Converse All-Star high tops that were Made in U.S.A. It is also exactly the place I knew I could find a very rare pair of Spalding Saddle Oxfords, which are now one of my most prized pair of shoes.

Sears is a local legend.  But for me personally  it’s a constant treasure trove of dead stock classic vintage finds and the source for all the best Made in America shoes.

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Filed under Classic American Brands, Shoes, Video Blog

Estonian All-Stars

On my recent trip to Tallinn, I had to track down Estonia’s answer to Converse All Stars.  And tracking I did…

After trawling both souvenir shops as well as shoe stores, I was finally told that the best place to buy these special shoes made by Gong was at the post office (?!) in the center of town.  Trekking through the snow, I made my way there, took a number & waited.

The post lady then showed me all the models, which reflect the national costume of different regions of Estonia.  She asked for my size & which region I’d like.  I chose Pärnu.

There I was, discussing size & fit with a postal worker!

I tried them on, asked for a few post card stamps, paid for everything & I was on my way!

Tänan teid Eesti (Props to Estonia!) for the cool tribute to your style culture & mine!

The proud owner wears her new shoes!

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays (this girl) from the swift completion of (her) appointed rounds (to find these shoes!)”


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Filed under Accessories, Converse, Shoes

Are Swedish Things Really In The Preppy Handbook?

Americana’s Video Blog

Thank you SWEDEN for contributing to the American preppy style!

Further Reading:

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Filed under About Americana, Legends of Americana, Shoes, Video Blog

Vans

Vans - Photo via Spencer C. Curtis

With shoe manufacturing experience on the East Coast, Paul Van Doren and Gordy Lee moved to southern California in 1966 to produce shoes.  After setting up a plant in Anaheim, the company became known as the Van Doren Rubber Company making shoes known simply as Vans.

During this same period, Van Doren & Lee opened a retail shop offering three styles.  The store’s opening was unpromising, as the only models that were available were on display.  Nevertheless, the store had 12 customers that day, whose orders were taken, and a California footwear legend was born.

Photo via SkateHere.com

After customers complained about cracking of the waffle pattern on the shoes rubber bottoms, the company added vertical lines to the ball area and patented the new design.  In the 1970s with the growth of the skateboarding craze, Vans quickly became the skateboarder’s shoe of choice.

Photo via SkateVans.com

In the late 1970s, a slip-on version was introduced which became all the rage in the 1980s, especially when bright color combinations and patterns were added to the shoes’ canvas upper part. Confirming their iconic status during this decade, the shoes were even worn by Sean Penn’s character “Spicoli” in the teenage classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Spicoli Sporting Vans in the Film Fast Times at Ridgemont High

© Copyright 2010 Americana

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Sperry Top-Siders

Sperry Top-Siders

Sperry Top-Siders were designed in 1935 by Paul Sperry.  Paul’s older brother was the well-known writer and illustrator of children’s books Armstrong Sperry.

Paul Sperry was an avid boater who saw the need for boating shoes that did not slip.  His innovative design with grooves and cracks that improved traction was inspired by his dog’s feet.   The herringbone groove pattern on the rubber sole made the shoe quickly popular with both civilian and military sailors.

WWII US Navy Canvas Top-Siders-Photo Via Riveted

In 1939, the United States Navy gained the right to manufacture canvas shoes using Sperry’s special soles.  Because of the Navy’s contract, Sperry’s business was purchased by the U.S. Rubber Co., which then marketed the shoe across the country.

Rumor has it that the U.S. Rubber Company is being revived and is re-issuing some of their pre-1950’s collections in 2012.

© Copyright 2010 Americana

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