Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I’ve been bubbly with enthusiasm lately so I thought I’d inject a note of negativity to shake things up a bit. No, I’m not going to pick on Simple Shoes for a boring men’s collection that consists of sneakers, potato sacks, and flip flops. Instead, I’m going to direct some disappointment towards ALDO, the Montreal-based shoe company whose stores are just about everywhere.
Once upon a time, ALDO shoes was my favourite shoe store. Other than a pair of very gothic kick-ass moon boots ornamented with industrial hardware, they offered one of the nicest slides around. The kicker, if you’ll pardon the pun, is that while the boots eventually expired after many years of wear, the sandals are still around and in great shape. That’s over 10 years, kids. Better yet, they’re still as stylish and contemporary today as they were back then, which says something about ALDO’s design sense. Check ‘em out:
But something happened. ALDO somehow stopped being forward-looking and became navel-gazing instead. Looking very much like a derivative of Italian style, with an obsession for pointed footwear, ALDO lost the appeal it once had. The shoes are fine in general, for what they are – reflections of trends that have no unique identity but nevertheless are robustly and capably designed.
Sandals, however, are a different matter. Yep, you guessed it. Most of what they offer us gents consists of flip flops. Gone are the days of slides with nice detailing like straps, cut-outs, and toe loops. Or are they?
While browsing through the Spring collection – hope springs eternal, says the cliché – I came across this bad boy:
Oh yeah. A gladiator sandal. Finally, something different. Gladiators have been all the rage in women’s footwear for a few seasons now, and only the priciest brands offered anything for men. Now, at last, a great-looking pair of sandals at a price within reach.
For a couple of weeks I – well, “pined” is not the right word – kept an eye on these, debating whether to order them online or visit a store. I opted for the store option and called around; the Beverly Center store was the only one that carried them. Off I went, then, to give them a try and…they only come in dark brown, the heel cup is strangely weak, and the footbed/sole is flat enough to qualify as two-dimensional. The upper, with toe loop and double-buckle ankle closures, is great. Needless to say, I don’t do brown. Ever. Strike one. The heel cup was a bit too weak for the shoe. Strike two. And I like a bit of soul in my soles, so strike three. ALDO’s out.
It’s apparently enough of a bummer for me to resort to sports metaphors. And it shows why I somehow keep mistyping ALDO as ALSO. As in: also ran. Given the standards set by previous efforts and the designs of artisans like Kiwis, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect more from established, professional design brands like ALDO. Or is it?
In any case, that’s my report for the week. I may have a consolation prize to write about sometime soon. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your shoe shopping experiences out there…which stores do you love, hate, or just don’t get? Show us some love and leave a comment below!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ah, spring. A season that needs no introduction. While ladies get to enjoy a cornucopia of sandal options, like those gorgeous United Nudes I wrote about last week, we guys are offered a marvelous choice…of flip-flops. Or fisherman’s sandals. Woohoo.
But fear not, there is hope: Kiwi Sandals, based in Lucerne Valley, California. I came across the website about three years ago and really, really liked the styles and selection. Naturally, I bought a pair after much hemming and hawing over which one to get. Lee Risler has been handcrafting leather sandals since 1963 and, with his son, is still at it. Despite the low-tech website, ordering is very easy: send a tracing of your foot, choose your style, send payment (credit cards accepted). The foot tracing is really key, because Mr. Risler will customize the sandal to your foot. This, of course, ensures the best fit.
But it’s the selection of styles that really ask for attention. Classic, timeless, versatile – they dress up the casual and keep grounded a peacock’s ensemble.
Other than a simple thong, Kiwi offers a toe loop and single upper band sandal, one of my favourites of the bunch:
Or, the multi-strap sandals I’m wearing (like the ones at the top of this post):
After three years, they remain one of my most reliable and comfortable pair of sandals - and the style never fails to draw admiring comments.
The sandals come in black or brown leather, cushion or leather soles. Mr. Risler will even take special orders. And you may ask, how much does it cost for a custom-fitted pair of sandals? $74, except for the thong sandals ($59) and the back-strap sandal with two thick, separate bands for the upper ($78). That’s really good value. It’s also proof that men’s sandals don’t have to be boring flip flops. Given the amount of imagination that goes into women’s shoes, there’s no reason for designers to take the lazy way out with men and just stick a pattern on the footbed of a flip flop and call it a day. (I never really understood the point of sticking a pattern or print on the part of a flip flop that people stand and walk on.) Give us straps, I say! Give us interesting patterns! Gives us buckles and rivets! Lee Risler can do it at a great price, so what’s everyone else waiting for?
And just before I give the impression that Kiwi’s is for guys only, these sandals are really accessible to everyone – unisex, if you will. They have a universal style that is rooted in the general notion that men’s apparel and footwear requires a robust aesthetic, but women can get away with anything. As an added bonus, women who want heels can have them, although Mr. Risler doesn’t recommend going beyond 1”.
- Unisex, but especially great for men.
- Wonderful choice of styles.
- Customized to fit your feet.
- Reasonable price.
Note: With the exception of the photo of me (well, my feet), images are borrowed from the Kiwi Sandals website for illustrative purposes only.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Note: Images borrowed from unitednude.com for illustrative purposes.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
So far, you have bracelets, anklets, dog collars, rifle slings, key fobs, watch straps, belts…even a “germ grenade” hand sanitizer holder. What’s next for Tough Gear Inc and Survival Straps?We have big plans for this year. We will be launching a pink line which a portion of the proceeds will be benefiting Breast Cancer Research. We will also be launching our "Thin Blue Line" gear which will be benefitting a fund that supports the families of fallen police officers. We are super excited about these two lines. As far as additional products, we will be adding Guitar Straps, Tactical Camera slings, Hat bands, Dog Leashes, and a couple of other top secret items which should blow people away! Stay Tuned!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Jean Paul Gaultier is in Target!!! Girls only. He's done a collection for each of his muse's personality.
They are Punk, Hollywood Glam, Ingenue, Hip Hop and Rock N' Roll. The looks will be available next week.
I'm in love with Hollywood, Ingenue and a leather jacket with millions of details in the Hip Hop collection. Just what I've been wanting with all this weather.
As you know, JPG designed Madonna's infamous cone-bra corset leotard and followed up by doing a version of Classique and Le Male, fragrances with a tribute collectible version of Classique. And while I love the man version, I've never smelled Classique. Anyone?
Gaultier has designed for so many musicians -(Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Kylie), he really is the rock and roll designer, and being a music lover, its so exciting to have access to his looks. He's also been a Costume Designer for many films and a fashionoclast in general. He keeps finding ways to be creative.
Target's been doing an amazing job of bringing on big name designers, most recently Rodarte. I could wear this one every day and night (sans military boots) respectively. Leopard print belt on powder blue = love.