Bruno Magli shoes at the crime scene
Anyone who watched O.J. Simpson’s murder trial in 1995, remembers the seemingly damning evidence of the bloody size-12 footprints left by Bruno Magli shoes at the crime scene. Simpson denied owning a pair of the kicks.
“I would never wear those ugly-ass shoes,” he scoffed in a deposition, even though pictures of him sporting a pair later surfaced.
Being associated with one of the century’s most infamous murder cases would seem like terrible news for a luxury brand. Instead, Bruno Magli proved the old saying true: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Far from hurting sales, the grisly trial turned the exotic brand into a household name. In fact, the model Simpson allegedly wore quickly sold out at Bruno Magli’s Beverly Hills boutique.
Kenneth Cole shoes history
Kenneth Cole wanted to start selling shoes In Manhattan in 1982, but he didn’t have enough cash to open a store. Undeterred, he decided to hawk his wares out of a trailer parked in bustling Midtown. That’s when his scheme hit a snag: New York City didn’t issue permits for mobile stores. Only utilities and film production studios could park trailers in Midtown.
To get around the rule, the clever shoemaker changed the name of his company from Kenneth Cole Inc. to Kenneth Cole Productions and applied for permits to shoot a film called The Birth of a Shoe Company. When the city gave Cole the thumbs-up, he opened his trailer’s doors, hired some models as “actresses,” and started rolling the cam-era-often without film in the canister. Meanwhile, he kept selling shoes. In just three days, Cole and his film crew sold out his entire 40,000-pair production run, and a footwear legend was born.
Ballerinas have been modeling out shoes for decades. In the 1930s, Gloria Gilbert earned the nickname “the Human Top” after spinning dozens of times at a dizzying speed, thanks to the ball bearings she built into the tips of her shoes.
MANOLO BLAHNIK didn’t set out to design Carrie Brad-shaw’s favorite heels; he wanted to make theater sets. But when Blahnik showed his drawings to Vogue editor Diana Vreeland In 1970, she advised him to ditch his stage ambitions and focus on the shoes from his sketches. Three years later, Blahnik opened his first boutique in London.
MARQUIS MILLS CONVERSE was managing a shoe company when he realized there might be a market for rubber-soled athletic shoes. In 1908, he launched the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. But he didn’t strike it big until 1917 with the introduction of the first basketball shoe, the Converse All Star.
SALVATORE FERRAGAMO was apprentice to a shoemaker at age 11. By 13, he’d opened his own store in Bonito, Italy. When he eventually settled in Santa Barbara, Calif., it did not take long for Ferragamo to become the “shoemaker to the stars.” He was a particular favorite of Marilyn Monroe’s.
JIMMY CHOO started designing in London in 1984, but his career didn’t takeoff until Vogue featured his work in 1988. He was propelled into even greater stardom when Princess Diana bought six pairs of his shoes. Keep in mind, he’s not just a designer-he’s also a spokesmo-del. Choo wears three-inch heels when he goes clubbing.
DR. KLAUS MAERTENS needed more comfortable boots after hurting his foot skiing in 1945, so the German doctor designed his own using discarded airplane tires as soles. Nothing says “punk rock” quite like a chalet foot injury.
Shoes in history
3500BCE – Ancient Egyptians pioneer the world’s first flip-flops using papyrus, flax, and palm. The shoes are also the first to have soles custom fitted for right and left feet. No wonder everyone wants to walk like an Egyptian.
2000 BCE – Indians popularize knob sandals-flip-flops with straps held together by a giant knob. Since cows are sacred to Hindus, the footwear is crafted from velvet. Prince would approve.
1100 BCE – Tiny four-inch lotus blossom shoes are all the rage in China thanks to foot binding, which leaves trendy women unable to walk. Bound feet become a status symbol for ladies of leisure who don’t need to work or walk to markets. The practice isn’t outlawed until 1912.
794 CE – The Japanese begin to favor geta shoes, which are more or less flip-flops done clog-style. The sandals’ wooden platforms range from two to 12 inches and raise the wearer above common people. By the time the style migrates to Turkey, the shoes are made even more fun when they’re renamed kip-kaps or kub-kobs, for the sound they make while walking.
5th-15th Century CE – Weird-looking, short-lived styles begin to surface in medieval Europe, including square-toed “duckbill” shoes and sabbatons (metal shoes worn with armor). The former are meant to be fashionable but make people waddle, while the latter protect feet against injury but are too heavy for anyone but Iron Man to wear on a regular basis.
15th-16th Century CE – Towering platforms called chopines become must-haves for European society ladles-the higher the chopine, the fancier the lady. But the shoes make walking so tough that wearers need attendants. Basically, chopine devotees were slaves to fashion-Lady Gagas before there was Lady Gaga.
19th Century CE – Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, has his shoemaker create a softer version of an old military boot. Later, the shoes are cast in waterproof rubber and become wellies, the preferred boot for stomping in puddles.
19th Century CE – Shoes start to take the classy, classic form we know, with men favoring loafers and brogues while women wear heels that allow them to actually walk. Good work, mankind!
20th Century CE – Men’s shoes evolve into lighter shoes in leather, rubber, and canvas. Sneakers get their name because the soles are so quiet you can sneak up on somebody, the intersection of ‘highly functional” and “mildly creepy.”
21st Century CE – So far, the 21st century has had its share of innovative fashion nightmares: Astroturf-soled sandals, flip-flops with beer bottle openers in the sole, Crocs, those toe-separator running shoes. On the plus side, at least bag shoes haven’t made a comeback with fans of the trendy Paleolithic workout… yet.
More funny facts about shoes
BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES Peruvians hang a small pair of shoes inside their cars or buses or-occasionally-under them. The shoes of a firstborn child are thought to bring riches and good fortune to a family. As a bonus, the wee footwear makes it easier to spot your car in a crowded parking lot.
CHUCKING YOUR CHUCKS Because shoes are worn on the lowest part of the body, they are considered unclean in the Middle East and must be removed before entering a mosque. Although throwing one’s shoe isn’t a uniquely Islamic insult, making any sort of gesture via footwear in this region is a grave insult.
GROOMING YOUR FEET In Hindu weddings, the bride and groom remove their footwear for the ceremony. That’s when the kids spring into action. When the groom isn’t looking, they’ll swipe his shoes, sending the families to go hunting for the kicks. Usually, the mystery ends with a few crafty children demanding a reward for returning the goods. It’s all part of the fun, but the groom still foots the bill.
FAMILY MATTERS The Japanese have been removing their shoes before entering a home since the late eighth century for good reason. Japan’s damp climate made for muddy footwear, which would soil a house’s bamboo tatami if worn inside. Since these mats often double as a family’s bed, compulsory shoe removal caught on pretty quickly.