Saturday, August 26, 2017

Comfortable Shoes: Utilitarian, Unisex and downright Ugly

In modern times of hardship and economical decline then shoe styles often take on a utilitarian and unisex style. This is predictably met with a tirade of abuse from the fashion police who jealously guard their right to be well healed.

After the Second World War no school bag was complete without a pair of black gym shoes. These unisex canvas topped rubber soled shoes started off as sand shoes in the 19th century, then became popular between the Wars when physical culture gripped the Western World. In the Second World War service personnel were issued with coloured gym shoes which were often taken home as prize souvenir mementos. These took pride of possession of kids keen to wear them when jiving. The North American influence soon saw these being replaced by more fashionable Keds and Chucks.

By the the sixties and the cashless Hippy culture, sandals (thongs) were the counterculture’s signature footgear.

The gliteratti of the Glam Rock scene of the Seventies wore fashion clogs which became was a must for both men and women. The 'shoes for the proletariat,’ as they were known post the French revolution were openly condemned as a fashion disaster and like the sabots of the revolution quickly abandoned as ugly.

In the late seventies when most of the Western World were struggling with social decline the punks, radical gays and skinheads took to Doc Martens giving the first unisex style which eventually became gentrified, fashionised, and the forerunner for four wheel drive shoes which remains the prerogative of the preppy crowd.

In Europe, flip flops became synonymous with cheap package holidays and no self-respecting holiday suitcase Once again the humble thong came to silence its critics when it too rose to ascend the catwalk and become the toast of the contemporary fashion.

Hanoi Jane may have been many things to many people but she was single handedly responsible for the trainer revolution for women.

Unisex, I hear you bay? Yes because for decades trainers for women were scaled down from mens’ designs. How unisex is that?

Hated as much as the leotard and leggings they came with the fashion police continued with their barrage of condemnation, that is until designer trainers made an appearance and became the true mark of casual elegance for the Sloan Rangers, Yuppies and Hooray Henries.

The clog made a fashion comeback in 2002, the invention of croslite and the introduction of Crocs saw a unisex return to haunt the fashion police..

Had it not been for the Chavs where would the UGG boot be today. Certainly a firm favourite of the low social economical groups who would supplement the heat needed to avoid hypothermia by dawning their favourite sheep skin lined boots. But when Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson was photographed wearing her fashionable uggs and bakini then all Hell was let loose, and the foot police are still reel’in from the fall.

Of course the true irony of utilitarian, unisex and downright ugly shoes is they are all very comfortable.

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