Sunday, June 24, 2018

Boots are made for walking

With the exception of hard hats, shoes remain the only protective adornment we need to wear. They protect us from hard surfaces such as concrete and bitumen, they provide safeguards to our toes from falling objects and kicking hard things. They are, when appropriately fitted to the feet, a walking machine and vertical support for strenuous activities such as sport. The history of the shoe, or in this case the boot, is the history of human beings.

The sandal or thong, was introduced over 6000 years ago, worn initially by the privileges classes, it was soon realized putting shoes on fighting men made them invincible warriors.

The sandal was militarized about 4,500 years ago. Thongs incorporated not only leg extensions but other status statements. The Greek Krepis had a carved tongue (or lingiula) indicating the person was a free man or citizen. The Roman Campagus was a shoe worn by officers its particular feature was an above ankle extension, the higher the shoe top, the higher the rank. Hence the beginning of the military boot and its long association with military horse riding.

As Attila the Hun swept through Europe and China his marauding horsemen took with them a boot with red wooden heels. The fashion caught on and was popular for centuries among nobility and horse riders.

Military engagements in countries with inclement weather necessitated protection from the elements, slowly the height of boots crept higher and higher until the European Cavaliers took the style to extraordinary lengths wearing thigh high riding boots with Cuban heels.

Once defeated by Cromwell, the English Cavalier Stuarts immigrated to the New World. They took with them their boots and many settled in the southern states becoming the superior southern plantation class. After the defeat of the Confederacy many displaced southerners migrated west to Texas. They took with them the tradition of wearing boots. Standard cavalry issue during the American Civil War was the English Wellington Boot.

In 1815 Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. The popular victor became a national icon and both men and women emulated his sartorial footwear style. The boot had a low cut heel and was calf high which made them easier to mass produce. Unfortunately, during the American Civil War unscrupulous contractors supplied below par footwear and many of the cavalry boots were mass produced using reinforced cardboard. Climatic conditions took their tool and horse soldiers suffered deep cuts to their feet. A Chiropodist General to the US cavalry was appointed at this time. Our lexicon was enriched with the word shoddy meaning manufacturers willing to compromise for profit. Right and left boots were introduced at this time and were most unpopular. As a result, shoe manufacturers decided not to introduce right and left shoes to the masses for another half century. At the end of the war the federal government had half a million pairs of boots surplus to requirements. Systematically during the following years troops stationed on the frontier were supplied with the shoddy boots.

Shoe historians believe the foundation of the cowboy boot trade in the frontier was based on the simple necessity for civilian bookmakers to replace defective military footwear. By the 1880's the cowboy boot was beginning to emerge as a distinctive style. Starting life as a dress Wellington or full Wellington, the fashion merged with the hard wearing lace up boot (or packer), worn by drovers.

Later the three-piece military boot was incorporated and worn by Hollywood's Cowboys. Tejas (or Napoleon style boots) with their peacock flair and ostentatious inlays were worn by megastars Tex Ritter and Tom Mix and became incredibly popular during the 30's and 40's. Somewhat surprisingly today’s cowboy boots which we associate with the Wild West are really fantasy footwear fabricated by Hollywood.

(Video jessicasimpsonVEVO Youtube Channel)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sleeping rough at Christmas: Take care of the pair

An alarming number of people are facing hard times with many folks living an existence with no roof over their heads and no place to call home. Parallels can be drawn to the Victorian times, where for a privileged few there was prosperity and quality of life second to none. However, for many the winter was a time of hardship and deprivation. No change there one century and a half later.

Sleeping rough is fraught with danger and not just of the human kind, bad as that is. Battling the elements is a major challenge with hypothermia ever present. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops so low, the main organs can no longer function. Smoking and the consumption of alcohol add to the situation by increasing heat loss and preventing a healthy blood supply to the feet and toes.

It is very important to keep warm and dry especially at night and particularly when exposed to the elements. A sleeping bag keeps the body warm at night by slowing down heat loss. Trapped air heats up and acts like an insulation layer next to the skin. We need energy to keep warm and this comes from a good diet.

Two ways heat is lost through the sleeping bag: if it gets wet and or when the fluffy section (down) is compressed by body weight. It is important to keep the bedding dry and always sleep on an insulating roll (exercise matt). Sleeping bags should be long enough so the feet do not touch the bottom of the bag when your nose is level with the front of the opening. Many people sleep tucked up with the bag tight over the knees and buttocks so make sure the bag is big enough so no part of it gets stretched and compressed when you are sleeping. The extra space at the end of the bag is an ideal place to safely keep your shoes (in a paper bag) and it is best the air the feet when sleeping.

In severe weather, pantyhose keep the legs warm but try not to sleep in your boots or shoes. A bag with a generous hood and neck muff (a draw strings) keeps the head warm which is very important. Our body temperature is controlled by sweating but this will also dampen the sleeping bag. Some people use a cotton sheet as a bag lining which is easy to wash and dry. However constant use of a sleeping bag will cause it to get damp, lose its warmth and get mouldy. Airing the bag will restore the warming properties and this should be done in sunshine or airing cupboard. Washing bags needs careful attention so use either a front-loading washing machine (set to a gentle cycle) or in a bath in warm soapy water. Make sure you rinse out the soap thoroughly before drying.

When using a front-loading tumble drier at gentle heat put a couple of tennis balls into tumble with the bag or if you prefer, a pair of trainers. Alternatively allow a whole sunny day for the drying in the open air.

Foot Note
Routine foot hygiene should consist of daily washing and inspection. Use hand hot water with soap but do not steep the feet in very hot water as this causes them to collapse. Use a mirror to check heels, the sole of the foot and in between the toes for cracks and sores. Hand creams moisturise the skin and gentle rubbing stimulates the circulation giving the feeling of walking on air. If you discover any cuts treat them with antiseptics like Betadine and cover with a clean dressing. Report unhealed wounds to the doctor or nurse. Regular washes remove bacteria which cause smelly feet and a light powder of baby talc will help absorb normal sweat. If you suffer sweaty feet then ask chemist for medicated powder to sprinkle on your socks and into your shoes, over night. When weather permits mild exposure to sunlight helps air the feet and bathing them in salt water takes away mild aches and pains. Remember to keep them dry.

More Information
Backpack Bed for Homeless
How to buy a coat that turns into sleeping bag for homeless people

Down on your heel? Try Grand Prix Shoes

If you are ever thinking about getting a loved one that special gift and you have not been able to find something for the person with everything, and then try a pair of shoes made from car tyres used by Formula One aces, like; Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and David Coultard. Old Formula One tyres have been snapped up and made into soles for shoes and boots. Each shoe is stamped with a code to identify the team and driver and footwear are sold with certificates guaranteeing authentication. These popular novelties now retail at $200 per pair and according to the manufacturer still retain the original tar and debris from the track.

(Video Courtesy: comunidademoda Youtube Channel)

Naomi Campbell of the famous fall in Vivian Westwood’s platforms should take note and get herself a pair of Grand Prix shoes because according to podiatrists, her painful bunions, revealed in TV commercials, have been caused by wearing high fashion shoes. Absolute nonsense, of course, but there are no problem bunions for Uma Thurman, caught dancing barefoot in Pulp Fiction.

(Video Courtesy: manetaki Youtube Channel)

The potential dangers of wearing ill- fitting footwear were put to the test when a convicted robber attempted to sue the British Home Office for making him wear ill-fitting shoes during his incarnation. Despite his unusually wide feet he was ordered to wear standard prison issue shoes. This, he claimed, caused corns, deformed nails, hammer toes and blisters. During the three years he wore them he had two foot operations as well as regular visits to the prison podiatrist. Unfortunately, the case was thrown out of court on the basis of insufficient proof. I wonder what they would have done with Robert Wadlow who at 8ft 11 ins tall had shoes which were 37AA.

Research from Holland indicates mosquitos prefer the feet and lower leg. One theory is sweaty skins contain corynerform bacteria which attracts the insects. Cornynerform bacteria gives Limburger cheese its distinctive smell and there is a nasty rumour the popular cheese was developed because dairy workers used to sweat over their labours. Makes you wonder what future generations will miss now these industries have become so scrupulously cleaned up.

Nikita Krushchev, allegedly had a very famous tantrum at the United Nations General Assembly in 1960. The Soviet Leader was reported to have removed his shoe and banged it loudly on the table for effect. This was caught by the television cameras and broadcast across the world. The famous shoe featured, forty-five years later, in a travelling exhibition. Some controversy surrounds the prime exhibit with claims it is not the original shoe.

Krushchev actually wore sandals on the eventful day and merely had his shoes handy at the ’life changing moment’. One cannot help wonder with today’s security if anyone in the auditorium could carry and extra pair of shoes. Historians believe the Soviet Premier’s outburst endeared him to the West and although it was not appreciated back in Russia, ‘shoe banging’ may have secured a long and safe retirement for Nikita Krushchev.

Irish-American Humphrey O'Sullivan was a young printer in Lowell, Massachusetts. He walked on a stone floor while feeding a printing press, and to ease his footsteps, he bought a rubber mat on which to stand. His fellow employees kept "borrowing" the mat, and after his wife complained of “rubber skid marks” on the bed sheets he cut out two pieces of the mat the size of his heels and nailed them to his shoes. They were so comfortable he patented the idea in 1899 and made an absolute fortune. After his death his considerable wealth was bequeathed to the "Save the Ferrets Foundation" because as he said in his will, "his family was a bunch of loafers." I am sure they could all find an alternative meaning to Grand Prix Shoes.

A correspondent asked what ‘heel plates“ were. These are snags or metal cap protectors worn on the shoe heel to prevent excessive wear caused when the heel contacts the ground.

Friday, June 22, 2018

From antiquity to today : Slip-ons are here to stay

The popularity of slip-on shoes and subsequent cross-over into high fashion corresponds to the incidence of terrorism in the West. Travelling fashionista prefer not to be held up at security points devesting themselves of cumbersome footwear and slip on styles maintain a casual nonchalance which allowed the fashionable slip-on revolution to begin. Several of the oldest known shoe styles was rediscovered in the latter part of the 20th century from clogs, sheepskin slippers to sandals all heavily promoted by popular daytime television.

(Video Courtesy: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Youtube Channel)
In 1966, German-American designer Margot Fraser, discovered Birkenstocks on a trip to Germany and took them back to San Francisco. They were initially slow merchandise to move but once the hippies discovered them, everything changed. Birkenstocks have been made since 1774, and an evergreen in Europe.

The sandals have remained “cyclically fashionable” throughout the latter half of the 20th century but reappeared in 2012, when Phoebe Philo, then the creative director of Céline, resurrected the slides as fashion icons on the catwalk.

One other European Granny sandal to cross the fashion divide was the Worishofer sandal, Once considered the orthpaedic shoe of choice for the discerning stiffy, when reference was made to hiw comfortable they were on an influential shopping magazine in the US, they were soon spotted on the feet of celebrity icons like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams . By 2010, the Worishofer sandal had become the sandal of choice for Blue Rinse fashionista.

(Video Courtesy: crocs Youtube Channel)

FIFA World Cup Russia 2018: Nike gives adidas the boot

Nike was established in 1964 and began its forage into the football (soocer) market in 1971 with the release of ""The Nike" football boot, the first shoe to bear the Swoosh logo. The boots proved unpopular so it was back to the drawing board.

Nike, started to get seriously involved in soccer when the World Cup was played in the United States in 1994, within two decades the American company has the majority market share. Despite this soccer represents less than 10% of Nike’s overall sales.

Nike primary objective, unlike their main rival adidas, is to sell football boots, and have for years ambushed the World Cup and other Football tournaments by sponsoring the top players with boot deals, many of which play for team sponsored by adidas. This “nuisance” strategy has proven success and now sixty per cent (60% ) of all players at the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia will be wearing Nike boots, with almost half the German and Spanish team and three-quarters of the Russians singed to a boot deal. Nike sponsor more of the world’s best-known soccer stars than Adidas in its battle to maintain supremacy over its German rivals.

According to CIES Football Observatory, 132 of the 200 most expensive players at the World Cup, wear Nike boots. Adidas have 59. By far Nike’s ace signing has been Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, for not only is he one of the greatest players on the planet, he also has an enormous presence on social media. It is this above all which helps the company sell shoes. Boot sales escalate after the tournament when school children and young adults buy them.

Nike outfit 10 teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia. These are: Australia, Brazil ($36M), Croatia, England ($40M), France ($50M), Nigeria, Poland, Portugal , Saudi Arabia, and South Korea .

Another form of promotion, called ‘guerrilla marketing,’ involves players slipping in a promotion for their personal sponsor. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (then Borussia Dortmund, now Arsenal ), dyed a red Nike swoosh into his hair while his team played in Puma sponsored kits. Puma is a Dortmund shareholder and provides the team's kits.

The player was back at it again when he celebrated his opener for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke, as he wheeled away to celebrate he grabbed a superhero mask and pulled it over his head. This issomething he has done quite frequently but on this occasion the Aubameyang’s celebration was part of a promotional campaign for the Nike Hypervenom. The player earns a reported 2 million euros a year from Nike and receives extra payments if he mentions the company on social media.

(Video Courtesy: Fox Soccer Youtube Channel)

World Cup Telstar 18: The baw's burst

Inspite of all the scientitic testing and ‘bla ‘ from adidas about their new Telstar 18, being tough and durable, it burst during the game between France and Australia. A strong tackle on Lucas Hernandez (France) by Trent Sainsbury (Australia)sandwiched the ball and it burst. Then in the 34th minute, Ousmane Dembele (FRance) prepared to take a corner but was delayed when he checked the ball and found it had burst.

On the same day in a different stadium, during the Argentina vs Iceland match, Lionel Messi was forced to change balls after being unhappy with its state early in the first half. It remains unclear why competition balls are bursting during matches.

Foot Facelift : Cosmetic Foot Surgery

When you stop to think about it, people are strange (cue Jim Morrison and The Doors). The length some of us go to be in fashion is quite remarkable. I said length, but should have said short, because I understand many ladies have been arriving at their friendly cosmetic surgeon to have their toes shortened. Yes, the little pinkies are amputated. For no medical reason but just to be able to fit more comfortably in the lean slick fashionable shoes which are enjoying a new vogue.

Now the idea of a foot facelift is not new and it appears a prominent member of the Royal Family (UK) of yesteryear had his, yes ‘His’, little toes amputated to fit more comfortably into the trim brogues he made so popular in the thirties. By coincidence we are currently enjoying a Renaissance of the glamour period.

According to the late William Rossi in his toe curlingly, funny book on the Sexlife of the Foot and Shoe (Kreiger Press) in fifteenth century Spain, the fashion for broad toe shoes (Bear’s Paw) that measured 12 inches across the ball of the foot with individual compartments for each toe came about because the prince regent was born with polydactilism (six toes). Absence of antibiotics and a high morbidity rates, post-surgery meant the prince was allowed to keep his extra toes and the shoe fashions were changed to accommodate extra width.

The “podiatrist’s delight” did last two centuries and certainly replaced the fashion for long toed shoes (poulaines) but it is unlikely one event at that time would have set the change in foot sartoria across all of Europe. According to contemporary writing and painting the change in fashion took place almost instantly. Communications were poor by modern standards and fashions would in the Middle Ages take decades to pass from one court to another. One tangible explanation is the change in shoe design was necessitated by the presence of disease. Syphilis was rife in the 15th century and a disease sequestrate was severe foot ulceration which would require shoes, like moon boots.

Is the popularity of toe cutting the symptom of a modern malaise? Apotemnophilia is a psychological disorder where the need for amputation of a limb or part thereof becomes an obsession. Today the disorder has a poor prognosis as counselling and pharmaceutical managements have little effect. The lifelong compulsion drives many people to seek amputation but when medical authorities refuse, the individuals will often undertake self-amputation, sometimes with tragic consequences. One cannot help but wonder if “the toe cutter phenomena” is not a fashion folly but a true indication of a popular neurosis.

Can we live without our little toes? Apparently so, indeed many amputees live perfectly fulfilling lives without any toes but this is not recommended if it can be possibly, avoided. Several years ago I did some preliminary research at the Bioengineering Unit at Strathclyde University in Scotland and was amazed to find out how much toes contributed to foot function during walking. The small toes have three little bones which give two knuckles and sometimes osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis) fuses the knuckle joints and leaves a prominent “sticky up” portion. I am using technical terms now but the condition is usually called a hammer toe. Foot surgeons may remove the joint if it is the cause of extreme pain and or recurrent infection. Pain is usually the sole (excuse the terrible pun), criteria for orthopaedic intervention, or it has been until now.

Cosmetic foot surgery has changed all that in our modern primitive society and now we have the technology to do literally anything to our bodies and that is exactly what we appear to do. The dilemma caused by the bioethics of toe cutting has really challenged the moral codes of the medical profession and what was once frowned upon in orthodox circles is now being openly challenged by an informed public.

Reviewed 22/06/2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia: adidas outstrip their rivals

Rudolf Dassler started the company when he and brother, Adi Dassler fell out in 1948. Puma has continued to rival adidas in soccer boot manufacture and supply. German Company, adidas, have enjoyed supremacy for decades in the soccer market but now face constant challenge from Nike. Together these companies control 89 percent of the soccer retail market.

Team deals are important for sales of football jerseys and adidas is the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup TM 2018 tournament and will outfit 12 teams. The 32 nations competing in Russia are sponsored by eight different clothing brands. Fans will see kits from Adidas (Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden,); Nike (Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea); Puma (Senegal, Serbia, Switzerland and Uruguay); New Balance (Panama and Costa Rica); Erreà (Iceland); Hummel (Denmark); Uhlsport (Tunisia) and Umbro (Peru). However, the German brand are not expecting large returns from a financially depressed host country. Sales of jerseys bring returns earlier because the World Cup outfits have already been sold to retailers and fans want to wear the jerseys of their favourite team. The sale of boots usually happens after the event when fans want to play shod, like their heroes.

adidas celebrate 20 years as an official partner of FIFA World Cup TM and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars for exclusive rights that include having its logo on match balls and referees’ uniforms. It is estimated adidas will spend between $96 million (£71.9m) and $176 million for 2018 FIFA World Cup TM. On average it cost the German Company annually, approximately $80M to be an official World Cup sponsor. That allows them to advertise within every stadium for every game. adidas have designed the official World Cup ball since 1970, and outfit all FIFA personnel, referees, ball boys, and volunteers. As an official event sponsor adidas has access to platforms and markets that their rivals do not. adidas also sees more engagement on social media. The content it produces for you tube draws a more committed following than Nike’s. This is important to distinguish because a loyal following will spend money on the brand, while a superficial one won’t.

Over the past five tournaments three World Cup winners have lifted the trophy donning the Adidas logo. The focus is no longer on broad-based sponsoring, but on the top teams and players. However, the cost of sponsorship is considerable i.e., Spain ($47M), Argentina ($11M), Russia ($15M) and Germany ($58M). Manufacturers regard sponsorships as key to boosting sales of shoes, jerseys and other equipment to consumers, with a market valued at almost $19 billion last year, more than double the level a decade ago. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup TM, adidas exceeded its own revenue projections and spent an estimated $67m on advertising, and the actual figure has never been disclosed.

A Brief History of Nail Art

As the fashion for metro-sexuality continues to be popular, men are attracted to nail cosmetics. Men and make up have a long history which dates back to antiquity. In ancient Egypt (5000- 3500BC) nail painting was an art form and often included gold and nail charms. The art of nail sculpture and decoration was also practiced in Africa, hundreds of years ago. The Hausa from southern Sahara were so proud of their painted nails they wore turned up sandals to protect them. Both men and women painted their toe nails. In Egyptian times henna was often used to colour the hair, skin and nails.

It took until the 19th century for the fashion of nail painting to return and much of this was due to the invention of the orange stick (for getting to the ungetatable places). Resurgence of interest in the classical brought almond shaped finger nails to the fore. Nails were often tinted red and highly polished. Just as Queen Victoria was taking to her thrown, nail painting again became an art form and there were several professional journals to cater for the new fad. New salons sprang up all over catering for all incomes. Tinted creams or powders were popular and the shiny look very vogue.

In 1907 the first emery board appeared and by 1917 the dangers of damaging the cuticle was recognized and a new nail polish patented. The first beauty therapy magazine featured in 1922 and the fashion was to apply a single strip of nail paint avoiding the lunula and free edge. Etiquette books of the time warned women against painting their nails "garish colours". The first perfumed nail varnish was introduced in 1929 but this was unpopular and quickly withdrawn.

By the early thirties Charles and Joseph Revson with Charles Lachman created an opaque, non-streaking nail polish based on pigments rather than dyes. This made a variety of colours available and Revlon introduced the fashion of matching lip and nail co-ordinates.

A new lease of life was given to toe nail painting when shoe designers discovered how to make high heeled shoes without toe caps. The Peekaboo styles were made famous in the thirties and forties by many of the Hollywood sirens including Rita Hayward. She becomes a celebrated actress who preferred to wear her finger and toe nails, long. Her red polish establishes the fashion and new colours followed after the Second World War. This was in no short measure due to the advances in industrial chemistry associated with wartime.

New practices were developed for manicure and pedicure in the late fifties when Max Factor introduced a range of nail enamels. At first the pale look was the fashion but by 1960 coral overtook and set the trend for colourful nails. During this time false nails make their debut and like false eyelashes got longer and longer.

A decade later acrylic nails were introduced and nail sculpting became the happening skill. The square nail became vogue. And it was reported some women grew their own nails long and sold them at $10 per inch to women who wanted a more realistic look to their false nails.

By the 1980's nails were made from fiberglass and were often tipped in gold to look chic. False nails were now available with adhesive tabs for ease in application and removal. Wu-Tang Clan the rap, hip hop outfit was quick to see the commercial opportunity and incorporated into their lyrics reference to their painted nails. The group’s management set up a company (Wu Tang Nails) and released a new line in nail paints through Wu Nails.

In their New York salon you could choose from over a hundred colours as well as have the band's logo and members faces embossed on your own nails. According to their management, the Wu Tang Clan all have their nails varnished but prefer clear polish, top and tail.

(Video Courtesy: WuTangClanVEVO Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: HowcastCareStyle Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 21/06/2018