Saturday, May 26, 2018

Drysure Active Shoe Dryer

The Drysure Active Shoe Dryer is a simple non-electrical device designed to dry out all types of footwear. According to the manufacturer, in four to six hours, the Drysure Active Shoe Dryer is 12 times more effective than letting shoes air dry.

Electric shoe dryers produce heat as part of the drying process and this can damage of the shoes but Drysure does not use heat or electricity. The manufacturer’s claims also include reduction of microorganosms like bacteria and fungal growth in the footwear whilst using their product. Drysure's are reusable and with proper care and storage can last years. The silica beads can be re-activated by removing the inner sacs from the outer plastic shells and placing the sacs in direct sunlight or in your oven at 100°C (212°F) and at 'Fan Assisted Oven' setting. The product is recommended foe sportshoes and other outdoor footwear.

(Video Courtesy: Youtube Channel)

Indigenous North Americans: Did they wear shoes?

Nearly all footprints discovered in the caves of the Palaeolithic (when only the most primitive stone tools were discovered) Period, were from bare feet, which means people either left their footwear at cave entrances or went unshod. Despite many discoveries of shoes preserved by the unique conditions found in caves it is only in the last few years, anthropologists made a systematic effort to determine the antiquity and ancestry of the shoe.

(Video Courtesy: UCCIreland Live Youtube Channel)

Footwear appeared at the very end of the last Ice Age when temperatures were similar to today and herding became possible. The appearance of footwear happened in all parts of our prehistoric world as a spontaneous need to protect feet, determined by climatic change and other needs. Shoes went from rudimentary foot coverings, to a limited level of functionality, then eventually fashion.

The simple sandal for example has been discovered in many geographically remote situations where sharing designs would have been impossible. Surprisingly the earliest recorded shoe finds, have not come from Africa, or Europe but instead, North America. The oldest shoe exhibited is in Carson City, Nevada and forms part of the Spirit Cave Man find. The artefacts including skeletal remains date to 9,500 BCE. Shoes were made from animal hide and lined with bulrushes.

The well-preserved Oregon Sandal (circa 8000 BCE) was discovered in a Fort Rock cave. Unlike the Spirit Cave Man shoe, it was made from organic materials and the sole tightly woven with grass and shredded sagebrush bark twisted into ropes. The basic flip-flop sandal was held next to the foot with a tie string pulled through loops formed as an integral part of the sandal weave. From these finds it would appear basket making was well developed among early Oregon dwellers.

Remarkable shoe finds discovered in the Arnold Cave, Missouri had the artifacts dated between 6-7000 BCE. The footwear was tough, well-made shoes and a wide range of styles including sandals, moccasins and slip-ons. Some shoes had pointed toes and others were rounded. The oldest specimen was a woven sandal made from fibrous material and dated from about 6,400 BCE. The most recent, about 1,000 years old, was a deerskin moccasin, probably made for a child and the only shoe made in leather. The remainder were made with dried leaves plaited into cording then woven into a tough fabric and used as an upper, sole and quarters. The espadrilles were fabricated from a yucca-like plant, locally known as rattlesnake master. Wear marks were consistent with modern wear and many of the specimens showed signs of skilled repair. Many of the moccasins were cushioned with dried grass (bull rushes) insoles. Although people were known to wear jewellery, no decoration was found on the artefacts nor was there evidence of colouring.

This was certainly not the case in Anasazi finds dating between 3.900 – 700 BCE. The Ancient Ones or Anasazi people inhabited parts if Utah, Colorado Arizona and New Mexico. Shoe finds, the earliest dating between 3900-700 BCE, were sandals made from yucca fibres. Unlike other previous finds Anasazi shoes, incorporated colourful geometric patterns with elaborate manipulations of warp and weft. The earliest sandals had square heels and toes woven in a twining and wrapping technique. Ties were made from yucca leaves, yucca cordage, or, rarely, hide strips. Another distinctive feature of Anasazi sandals was the soles were woven differently from uppers and incorporated ridges with which to grasp the ground. Some examples were too small to fit human feet, even children a might suggest sample miniatures, dolls clothing or early ornaments.

Reviewed 26/05/2018

Friday, May 25, 2018

Maasai Shoe making tutorial Kenya Africa

Vegan Shoes the new black

Vegan shoes are the new vogue. To be considered vegan, the shoes must be made with no animal-derived products in any part of the process, including adhesives. That means leather, silk, wool and fur are out, replaced by innovative synthetic alternatives. Many brands make their uppers from high-grade polyurethane (PU), faux leather (Pleather) made from high quality plastic materials, is much cheaper than real animal leather. Originally PU was used for glossy upper of shoes. PU also uses less chemicals in the production processes than its more toxic non-leather predecessor, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Other materials include Piñatex®, made from pineapple leaf fibres, cork and MuSkin, a “vegetable leather” made from mushrooms or other options made from recycled plastics.

Vegan brands attempt to minimise the energy used in their production processes and cut down on waste and pollution as the tanning and dying of leather usually requires toxic chemicals. Some companies are all-vegan brands, whilst others have a vegan range within a wider collection. The range of vegan footwear ranges from everyday trainers and practical boots and brogues, to red carpet-ready heels and sandals. Many established companies like Hugo Boss, include vegan alternatives or lab-grown leather, while consequently moving away from the conventional reliance on animal products.

For many years Matt & Nat (MAT(T)ERIAL and NATURE) has been been experimenting with different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork, in their commitment to not include leather or any other animal-based materials in their designs. They use linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles and recycled bicycle tires. Matt & Nat collections can now be found in boutiques across Canada, the United States, the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia.

Sydney Brown also prefers to use as little plastic as possible, and has been working biodegradable stilettos which he hopes to release later this summer.

Natalie Portman, demonstrated the sturdiness of the design when she wore a pair on a Saturday Night and was seen jumping up and down. Brown admits his biodegrable shoes will eventually break down, but degrading shoes would not be a concern of the wearer throughout its usable lifespan.

(Video Courtesy: Saturday Night Live Youtube Channel)

Toms has a large selection of vegan designs for adults and kids, including the Lenas with a cotton upper and rubber sole. Toms donate a new pair of shoes to children living in poverty for every pair of shoes purchased.

Ethically conscious , Will’s aces of London produce a range of vegan shoes and use processes which are whereever possible, carbon neutral.

Veja make retro-inspired trainers made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled polyester or its “B-mesh”, a fabric produced from 100 per cent recycled bottles and soles from wild rubber.

Friendship is run by two committed vegans who aim to be as kind to the environment as possible in their shoemaking process. Shoes are designed as gender neutral and come in sizes 3-11. They’re made from high-grade microfibre sourced from an eco-friendly producer in Italy and are crafted in the UK. The crepe soles are made using the Goodyear welting method.

Vans’ also do a range of vegan shoes.


A safeguard when buying vegan shoes is to look for the Peta or Vegan Society-approved logos. However, keep in mind accreditation can be costly for smaller brands so just because there is no logo, does not mean the product is non-vegan.

Shoes: From the Hallstatt Era to the Romans

The period between the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age is considered to be the dividing line between prehistory and history. Archaeologists refer to this as The Hallstatt era (800 to 400 BCE). Shoes found from this period suggest well-developed forms of leatherwork.

The style of shoe was moccasin-like and made from one-piece pigskin or deer hide. An oval with slits for thonging up to more complex patterns with excess leather removed for a better fit. The shoes were held together with soft stitching made from stiff leather (thongs) straps of the same materials. The openings through which the straps are drawn were wedge-shaped with holes made with a sharp knife with a single-sided sharpened cutting edge. Thin leather was used to make the shoe flexible enough to mould to the foot. Being made from one piece the sole was thin and offers little protection from rough terrain. It was common to pad the inside of the shoe with grass, straw or wool. Other finds elsewhere indicate the use of straw, as an insulating insole was essential when worn in cold dry climates.

New shoes in the Iron Age (1200 BCE – 1 BCE) may not have appeared quite the same as we would recognize them today. A process of ‘wearing in’ would allow the leather to mould itself to the feet. This involved plastic deformation of the leather enhanced by high temperatures caused by dynamic friction and sweat. The absence of sweat marks on the inside of the shoes found from the period suggests feet and legs were covered. To protect the foot from moisture the leather was tanned, chamois style using animal fat or natural vegetable fat. Vegetable tanning was common before the Romans and used natural oils, fats or smoking the leather. These techniques meant leather goods only survived in specific conditions.

By the time of the Romans (31 BCE), craftsmen discovered how to make leather more durable and waterproof. Many believe this is why Roman shoes have survived. Shoe finds from the Iron Age indicate unique wear marks and scuffs consistent with occupational footwear e.g. someone working on a ladder and stonecutter. Close examination of the prehistoric footwear revealed evidence of repair with skill and appeared to be a routine maintenance.

Reviewed 25/05/2018

Hot feet and military personnel

Who amongst us has not suffered hot feet and particularly in the warm days of summer. I declare, driving along the coastal roads of WA, you can spot the tourists because they are either stuck to the melting tarmacadam or delicately tip toeing over the hot pavement to their cares. Well spare a thought for the forces posted to hot spots in hot countries. Plenty slip, slap, slop but temperatures are so punishingly high they cause the entire body to swell with fluid retention. Feet are no exception.

In the normal course of the day foot volume changes getting bigger as the effects of gravity draws fluids downwards causing oedema, which means boots become painfully tight. Normal perspiration cannot evaporate from the skin’s surface. Sweating is the body’s natural temperature control but when socks become saturated these are the perfect medium for microbes to multiply. Fungus and yeasts thrive in the damp hot environment and the poor soldier becomes victim to severe athlete’s foot often with an accompanying itch to try the patience of a saint. Other minor ailments like ingrown toenails, can become life threatening as bacterial infections fester. No quick visit to the podiatrist on manoeuvres.

Increased hydrostatic pressures caused by oedema encroaches on sensitive nerve supplies causing arches to collapse and severe pains in some cases. Old war wounds of bunions, hammer toes etc., become exacerbated, making it very difficult for the fighting force to move. Temperature extremes for day to night mean the extremities become more vulnerable to frostbite or chilblains. Despite vulnerable feet being an acknowledged in the theatre of war few armed services recognize the need for military podiatrists. The one main exception is the US.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Asics Gel-Kayano 25: Out of this world shoes

The technology of shoe making has radically changed in the last quarter of century. Not only are shoe designs different the manner in which they are made and tested has also altered beyond recognition. Material labs help build shoes from scratch by creating new polymer mixes and adjusting sole moldings to suit foot function. New materials are tested in space age labs which include climate chambers to replicate almost any condition on earth, and also sophisticated biomechanics laboratories. A good example is the new Asics Gel-Kayano, was developed at the Asics Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan.

The original trainer was launched in 1993 and incorporated a combination of suede and mesh overlays with different gels sandwiched into the midsoles of the rearfoot and forefoot. The sixth version was released seven years later, and was constructed to absorb impact of peak force. A decade on, the 16th generation in 2010, aimed to stabilize a runner’s foot by keeping it straight during stance phase of running. The 23rd version was 55 % lighter than the industry standard and incorporated FlyteFoam®.

For the 25th anniversary model, designers created two new styles of FlyteFoam® i.e. Lyte and Propel. FlyteFoam Lyte contains nanofibers trapped between air bubbles which makes the thinner midsoles lighter (under 12 ounces) than previous models but also increases both the strength and durability than conventional EVA foam.

(Video Courtesy: Pro:Direct Running Youtube Channel)

More reading
Bengtson R. (2011) The Complete History of the ASICS GEL-Kayano

Hot legs

May seem inconceivable to the x,y and z generations but during the Second World War when there was a shortage of materials, nylons were in very short supply and many young girls painted their legs with skin paint, then using a special pencil had a straight line drawn down the back to give the appearance of a seam.

A century before long and elegant legs were a mark of style, wait for it, not for women but for their gender opposite! The well proportioned male leg had it all and was an accepted sign of breeding and aristocracy. The long shapely leg became associated with moral probity, decency, worthiness and reliability.

The cut of clothes and wearing tall hats also added to the streamline athletic appearance which remained the hallmark of aristocracy. The short fat hairy leg didn’t quite make it and was a clear sign of a lack of breeding. Perhaps that is why Napoleon wore lifts in his shoes. The less well endowed and sneaky would secretly slip on false leg pads, similar to shin pads just to make their legs look full bodied.

Legs to the nineteenth century man became their source of erotic fantasy. Not their own, I am relieved to report, but the legs of Nineteenth Century women were considered very sexy. Those of course were safely hidden under long skirts and a glimpse of stocking was, as we know, something shocking. However that did not stop men from having a look. At the time garden swings, adult size became the craze. Why? Well use your imagination, as the ladies swung graciously, the hem of their skirts lifted to and fro, revealing a lovely expanse of leg.

In eager anticipation men would nervously take a sip from their silver, hip flask. Yes, you have got it, the container was leg shaped. Perhaps to calm the nerves shag was required, well men could take their pleasure from boot shaped snuff boxes. All of which enjoyed a great deal of popularity at this time.

Just when you thought it was safe to take your hands from the children’s ears, all this concentration on the lower leg was happening at a time when Freud and his colleagues were telling the Western World about sexual symbolism. To avoid any embarrassment, legs became known as lower limbs, and wings were the preferred term to describe the leg of the fowl. But this does not in any way explain why there was an absolute craze at the time for foot shaped ice creams and sausages in the US, Australia and Europe.

In 1895, when the Can Can was all the rage, George du Maurier published Trilby which became the most popular novel of its time. The story was a country girl, Trilby from Ireland who went to Paris to seek her fortune as an actress and fell under the spell of Svengali. Her natural beauty made up for any lack of talent and for effect Trilby walked barefoot in high society. The modern equivalent would be like going topless. Trilby was the 50 Shades of Grey of its time and when it was made into stage play, every time the actress playing the lead appeared barefoot, it causes riots in the theatre and surrounding streets. Such was the power of the bare leg and foot.

(Video Courtesy: Rod Stewart Youtube Channel)

McDowell C 1997 The man of fashion :Peacock males and prefect gentlemen London: Thames and Hudson

Why We Wear Different Sizes in Different Shoes

(Video Courtesy: Highsnobiety Youtube Channel)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Kicks by Nicholas Smith

Nicholas Smith’s “Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers” (Crown, 320 pages, $26) describes the cultural history of America’s most fetishized object i.e, The Sneaker. From the humble origins of rubber soled canvas topped shoes in the mid 19th century and the rise of leisure among the masses he describes the evolving sportshoe and its integration into codified games and athletics, Tracing the impact of sport shoe giants such as adidas and Nike, he considers the cultural significance of ‘rubbers’, in today’s ashfelt jungle and celebrity culture. “Kicks” is a must for all ‘sneakerfreakers.’

Chocolate High Heels

Birdman Goes Sneaker Shopping With Complex

Sneakers: An American Tale

Sneakers: An American Tale
From the high-end to low-end, high-tops to trainers, what makes a sneaker great, and what is it about athletic shoes that make them such a symbol of Americanness? Listen to a penel of experts.

Sneakers: An American Tale !A WAMU 88.5

(Video Courtesy: 1A Youtube Channel)

What do you get for being the bridesmade of the Duchess of Sussex ?

Ask any market executive what is the best way to sell your product and the response is sure to include celebrity endorsement, product placement and the right photo opportunity. The Duchess of Sussex gave each of her six bridesmaids (Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Florence van Cutsem, siblings Remi and Rylan Litt, Ivy Mulroney and Zalie Warren.) personalized keepsakes of her wedding. The monogrammed Aquazzura shoeth had the date of her nuptials and the white leather with bow closures additionally feature the recipient’s initials.

A Solo Shoe: What does it mean?

I suppose, you are like me and when you pass a solo shoe left on the roadside and you cannot help asking yourself, "How did that get there and under what circumstances?"

A colleague of mine from California was staggered to find wherever she went within the city she came across single socks and oranges abandoned on the pavement. Intrigued by the phenomena and after some detective work she soon discovered it was children in a rush to get home from games. Carelessly carrying their sports bag they lost a sock and at the same time jettisoned the ubiquitous orange given to them by mum for after sports treat.

A boot set on top a fence post was an old sign that someone was at home. A little more difficult to explain was the story of the lady’s fashion shoe found 25,707 feet up Mount Everest. In 1960 a Chinese mountaineer discovered oxygen gear and tent poles from a previous climber’s camp. The equipment dated back to the 1920's & 30's and the gear was thought to belong to the ill-fated Mallory & Irvine expedition of 1924. Amongst the effects was a single ladies fashion shoe beautifully crafted in brown leather. No satisfactory explanation was ever given. Experts agreed at these altitudes no climber would dare carry anything that was not vital to the expedition. Perhaps it was the lucky charm, tragically overlooked in their desperate desire to reach the summit.

One other possible explanation for the lady’s shoe on Mount Everest might be it belonged to a transvestite adventurer called Maurice Wilson (1898-1934). Wilson was an eccentric Englishman, who decided to climb Everest solo while recuperating from illness. His plan was to fly to Tibet, crash land his plane on the mountain's upper slopes, then walk to the summit. Wilson had no previous flying or climbing experience and his expedition was doomed from the start. Despite this in 1934, he flew a Gypsy Moth to India and on May 22, 1934, tried to climb to the North Col but failed at an ice wall. He set up camp at around 21,000 feet and nine days later his last diary entry read: "Off again, gorgeous day," sadly ill-fated, because his body was found in 1935 in snow, surrounded by his blown-apart tent. Seems Wilson had packed women's clothes for the expedition.

Ornithologists in the Netherlands and Shetlands monitoring dead birds logged footwear washed up on the shorelines. In Holland more right shoes were washed up, while the Shetlands were inundated with left foot shoes. Stranger still where only soles remained, there were more left-footers on the east coast of Shetland than the west. And just to bring it home, a recent environmental report documented the concerns of a coastal town in WA, alarmed at the pollution caused by abandoned thongs.

For many years all over North American cities, training shoes were left tied together and hanging over telephone wires. These sometimes would remain for years. Many suggestions have been advanced to explain the practice but none were especially satisfactory. Back in the 90s, The Los Angeles Times were sufficiently concerned they brought a group of experts together to try to explain the habit. The general consensus was teenagers were responsible and it was thought an action of defiance. Leaving school, the celebration of a sexual conquest, or the result of a drunken adolescent challenge were the main justifications but experts also considered meaningless copycatting was the real motive. One other sinister possibility was the way street gangs marked out their territory, memorize a fallen comrade or simply torment someone being bullied.

(Video Courtesy: Ramón J. GOÑI SANTALLA Youtube Channel)

More recently aerial graffiti has come to indicate a drug dealer is in the close facility. The type and style of the hanging shoes infers the range of illegal narcotics available to buy.

Reviewed 23/05/2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Women’s shoes 2017: The highs and lows

According to the The NPD Group, Inc’s Retail Tracking Service, American sales of women's sneaker surged 37 percent in 2017. By comparison the sales of high heels declined 11 percent during the same time period. Sky-high heels (heels three inches or higher) were significantly affected.

Brands like Nike, Adidas, Dr. Scholl's, Roxy, Puma, Steve Madden and UGG, are just a few of the names that are benefiting from the change in consumer habits as the demand for casual comfort outweighs high fashion. Experts anticipate the sneaker trend will continue in the double digits for the next few years.

The lifestyle choice for more sensible and affordable shoes seems biased towards comfortable footwear that can be worn both day and night. All at a time when there is no lack of retail choice and at a time when sales of women’s shoes is increasing across different categories.

Sales in athletic footwear grew 2 percent in the U.S. last year, generating nearly $20 billion in sales. Sneaker giants, Adidas and Nike drove almost half the growth in women's leisure sneakers, as celebrity collaboration became more apparent. Rapper Kanye West and Stella McCartney both have collaborations with Adidas. Rap artist Kendrick Lamar has also teamed up with Nike and Rihanna's Puma line was so popular it sold out online.

(Video Courtesy: Puma Youtube Channel)

Australia's evergreen sneakers: DVs and KT26s

From their inception in the late 30s, Dunlop sport shoes represented the thinking sportsperson’s footwear and had no equal for two decades between the 50s to the 70s. They became synonymous with Australian sport and a household name during the nation's sporting 'Golden Era'. Post war, Dunlop sport shoes were associated with many of the sporting legends of the time including: Adrian Quist, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Tony Roche, John Newcombe, Evonne Goolagong, Margaret Court, Peter Thomson, Greg Norman and more lately Mark Philippoussis.

In the days before hard courts the Dunlop Volley was perfect for grass court competition. Devised by Adrian Quist, these were an excellent example of matching sport with shoe design. By the eighties however the fad for fashion trainers, with airbags and springs, heavily endorsed by sporting personalities, saw a meteoric rise in multinationals such as Nike, adidas and Reebok. Sneakerisation with designer sports shoes took hold and has remained there ever since.

Despite this, the old Australian icon has kept going by its loyal band of fans to become an evergreen and far outselling any of its trendy rivals. Cream rises to the top and in the 21st century, the humble Dunlop Volley. has had a complete turnaround as retro fashion enjoys resurgence among the youth market. Their popularity is due in no short measure due to the needs of sk8’s, and thrashers who require tough, lightweight footwear with excellent grip and protection. And that is precisely the quality mark of the Dunlop Volley and KT26. The post grunge and nouveaux punk generation of urban dwellers well suits the Dunlop.

In the 70s, rather than follow the fashion fads of their rivals, Dunlop invested in technology making models like KT26 (1976) which were tough, hard wearing, excellent quality and good value. They were without doubt not only the best running shoes of their time but crossed over into other outdoor leisure activities such as trekking as well as teenage fashion. Not high fashion, but a rite of passage kind of fashion, i.e. the first pair of trainers kids are bought as they enter early teenage years .

The cantilever soles made of black rubber were guaranteed to leave marks on any school gymnasium. A fabulous source of frustration to authority and the “Kilroy was here attitude” appealed to the adolescent. Shoes with literally indestructible soles, and uppers that attracted teenagers meant these were good valued purchases for parents too. Now the same properties, minus bells and whistles are needed for extreme sport and this has introduced them to a new legion of fans. Ironically the new surfies rejected the hi tech outlets preferred by the major sports shoe retailers in preference for niche surfie shops or discount outlets. Now of course there is a major industry supported by global consumers.

Despite Australians buying more designer trainers than any other western country sale have shown negligible growth over the last four years. Dunlop has a significant market share in dollar terms and in volume terms the brand is the clear market leader. Dunlop Volley is the top-selling athletic shoe (sold over 24 million pairs since 1939), and the number-two brand is Dunlop, KT26. But if you have not laid eyes on Dunlop’s since your youth, don’t be surprised to find the green-and-gold has been replaced with a red-and-black design. But, be assured the new Volley shoes are made to the same design used in the 1950s, although they now incorporate out of these world materials (synthetic polymers).

DVs are popular with the roof tillers and recommended by many walking clubs in the Blue Mountains, in Australia. Canyon walking presents many challenges to the foot and DVs appear to match 4 wheel drive footwear types. The soles give excellent traction provided the pattern on the sole lasts. New shoes are recommended. The edges of DVs grip well on slopes if used correctly, and cause less damage underfoot compared to heavier boots. DVs, to the uninitiated. are lightweight canvas topped sports shoes, comparatively cheap as these things go, retailing under 30 dollars. The soles have been improved over the years and give sure grip but DVs do wear quickly. So be prepared to buy two pairs a year. This compares favourably with brand leader equivalents sometimes 4 or 5 times more costly.

The Dunlop KT-26s is an up-market version of the tennis shoe. Stronger then DVs, the upper is made from leather with reinforced heel cups which provides much needed padding, and stronger carbon rubber soles give better cushioning with a tread traction superior on dry surfaces but not so good on very wet rocks and logs. KT-26s are ideal for general walking with the cheaper DVs more indicated in the conditions of canyon walking. As with all sports shoes these are rarely available in half sizes and it is very important to have shoes that fit and feel comfortable. Try the paper template trick. Draw an outline of your foot weightbearing on a piece paper then cut it out and slip into the shoe. If the paper crumples, the shoe is too small.