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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shoes are political, Venus

“... our apparel is always in evidence and affords an indication of our pecuniary standing to all observers at first glance ... dress, therefore, in order to serve its purpose effectively, should not only be expensive, but should also make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labour”.

Thorstein Veblen, 1899

Not sure what economist Thorstein Veblen would make of fashion democratisation? Veblen’s principles appear to clash with the egalitarian concept and the idea of upmarket sports shoes as acceptable attire for the well heeled, just would not make sense to the co founder of the Institutional economics movement. The economist /sociologist is right however shoes are more than shoes. Whether it is Marie Antoinette demonstrating her power to spend, spend, spend, or people deprived of real wealth and access to power to use their shoes to look the part of the high stepper, the same message is clear, shoes are political.

The latest shoe democratisation collaboration comes from Venus Williams and retailer Steve & Barry’s®.They have announced a new collection called EleVen™ by Venus Williams. EleVen™ features a wide assortment of classic, active lifestyle and performance looks, on-court as well as casual footwear, accessories, and more. The signature item in the line is the “V-Court,” a high performance, on-court sneaker. Williams, the four-time Wimbledon Champion and two-time U.S. Open Champion, will debut the V-Court during her matches at the U.S. Open. EleVen™ will be sold exclusively at Steve & Barry's stores in the US. Everything in EleVen™ will be priced at $19.98 (US) and under, including the V-Court sneaker, which will retail for $14.98. While the price point is affordable, the quality of the V-Court is high-end, offering similar construction and styling as many of the most expensive tennis sneakers on the market. The launch of EleVen™ includes over 120 pieces, including nine styles of athletic footwear in a wide variety of colour ways, track suits, fleece outerwear, street active apparel, graphic t-shirts, puffy down jackets with removable sleeves, denim jackets and jeans, velour items, tote and gym bags, jewelry, sports socks and bras, and more. The champion tennis diva has an extensive knowledge fashion design and has drawn upon her learning to create a collection that represents her confidence and energy on the court. The name EleVen™ comes from the address of her first family home in California. Venus also owns a full-service interior design firm called V Starr Interiors, based in Jupiter, Florida.

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