And speaking of shoe collectors, I came across this great interview with a vintage shoe collector named Jonathan Walford over at The Collectors Weekly. Walford actually works at the Bata Shoe Museum that displayed the On A Pedestal exhibit we featured some months ago. Here, he speaks on the history of shoes and shoe design in the 20th century. He had a lot of great stuff to say, like how the advent of the mini-skirt in the 1960s resurrected the boot or how Mary Janes might’ve been invented by a cartoonist. What I thought was really interesting was the effect of wars on shoe design and how it led to the creation of cork platforms. Check out a quick grab below:
“Walford: A few homegrown American design talents began to show up, but American retailers were leery of taking American designs. They always wanted to sell the latest fashions from Paris or London. They never wanted to say ‘buy the latest fashions by so and so from Ohio’. World War II changed that because U.S. retailers were cut off from Europe’s fashion leaders. Suddenly they had to look to the local talent, and there was a lot out there. They would even promote the names of U.S. shoe companies like Herman Delman in advertisements.
Collectors Weekly: How else did World War II affect U.S. shoes?
Walford: Actually, both world wars had an impact. From 1915 to 1918, material shortages forced European designers to replace some of the leather in their shoes with gray felt or cotton. This was especially true for boots. In World War II, again because of a lack of leather, materials such as wood and cork were used in soles instead of leather. That created the platform, which became the fashion throughout the war and even into the early 1950s.”
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