Wednesday, April 14, 2010

These Little Piggies Went to Market: A Tale of Two Shoes

As threatened yesterday, more dreadfully ugly shoes. If you are of a delicate aesthetic sensibility, avert your eyes NOW.

Oops too late! Behold, a FiveFingers sandal from Vibram. (editor's note: they look marginally worse in the photo than they do in real life). If you are an outdoorsy sort you may have heard about, seen, or even own a pair of these non-ballet toe shoes, which are about as close as you can get to going barefoot if you haven't developed the calluses of an individual who must walk unshod several miles a day to meet basic human needs. Such an individual might happily join in to the general derision of this footwear, but I don't care. They feel fantastic on.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the closet, deliberately snubbing the gauche FiveFingers, are these vintage ghillie-style oxfords from Rangoni. (Ghillie: a shoe with decorative lacing up the instep and no tongue).

I'm so pleased with the shoes, which just came in from Etsy for the reasonable price of $54/£34. Canvas and leather, practically unworn, from a shoemaker whose name really deserves to be more widely known, for the craftsmanship is exceptional. Rangoni Firenze is a Florence, Italy-based shoemaker that has been a family business since 1933. They were one of the first Italian firms to export shoes to the US, and created handcrafted designs for Christian Dior.

My only niggle is that the toebox is narrow in that smug Italian way, which will certainly be felt after a few hours. The canvas will stretch. More importantly, at the other side of the closet, the FiveFingers will be waiting to pamper my poor toes.

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