Thursday, February 24, 2011

New kicks from China:ospop

Canvas jiefang xie (解放鞋) or “liberation shoes” were once the preferred footwear of every construction worker in Shanghai. They were made in a shoe factory in Henan Province. Ben Walters liked what he saw and bought the company renaming them ospop ( “One Small Point of Pride”). The new shoes sell for US$48-73 per pair which is about 20 times the price of the original jiefang xie. As a novelty the shoes come with two sets of laces, one to match the shoes’ canvas and another to match the rubber outsole. The working conditions in the ospop’s factory has improved under Ben Walters and now employees receive overtime pay as well as work in safer environment. The trainers made by ospop pay tribute to “the industrious and optimistic spirit found among people living and working in China and have the character gong (工) or “labor” embroidered on every pair of shoes. Currently the color palette available includes “cement,” “slate” and “brick.” Whilst sales in ospop are rising more recently there has been a fashion demand for retro Chinese footwear brands such as Feiyue and Huili.

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