[Caution, a fetish post will follow. If you have shoe envy or adversion to nonsensical female obessesion with them please look away.]
My earliest memories of shoes was when I was about 5 I think. I had a pair of red Mary Janes my parents had bought from me from Bata (the shoe store of choice.) I didn’t really wear that pair very often, and soon they got tight for me. I think my mum might have kept that pair for a very long time before finally giving it to a cousin because that shoe was hardly used at all.
The following year I got another pair of white Mary Janes. My parents obviously loved the Mary Janes. Perhaps they thought that the Mary Janes are very sensible shoes and can last a very long time. However they might have overseen the fact that my feet are growing and I would outgrow those pair pretty quickly.
I remember I was living with my grandparents then, and I would go home to live with my parents only during weekends. One Friday, my mum had called me at my grandparents place. It must have been pretty close to Eid, because we were discussing about getting new clothes for Eid. I remember my mum telling me that they were not going to buy me a new pair of shoes that year, but they will be taking my white Mary Janes out from the closet and they will be repolishing it. Perhaps my mum was merely teasing me, but I remember being very, very sad then, when I heard that I was not getting a near pair that year. My parents were very thrifty and there wasn’t much to spread around especially with a new house and a younger brother, and I understood all that.
I think I was almost crying when I put the phone down and my auntie asked me what was wrong. I told her that my mum had just told me that I won’t be getting a new pair of shoes that year. And bless my auntie, she comforted me and told me that even if my parents were not going to buy me a new pair of shoes that year, she would buy me one.
And so the next day, off we went to the neighbourhood Bata, and my auntie let me choose whichever shoe I wanted, and I remember picking this pair of strappy white sandals. I was so happy to have gotten a pair, but my parents were not too happy when they saw those shoes!
Throughout my teenage years, shoes continues to plague me. Being a teenager and wanting so much to fit in, shoes was one of the things that continued to bother me. I went to a girls school that had a strict dress code of white only shoes. And my parents gave me a strict budget for my school shoes, which basically meant its was Bata canvas shoes, the type that I would have to wash every weekend, and then lather then with white stuff to make them white.
But around me in school, the girls were wearing Reebok shoes. Reebok was so popular then and was expensive as well, and I so wanted one of those white tennis shoes, but with the limited budget my parents gave me, I could only afford Bata.
Until I made some friends in Secondary Three, who showed me where I could buy discounted Puma white shoes. I was so thrilled to own a pair of school shoes which was not Bata.
Now its not that my parents didn’t appreciate the value of good shoes, but they themselves could not afford such luxuries. My mum wore this simple sandals (Schol imitation ones) until they were really worn out before she throws them away. And my dad too hung on to his broken pair. One of his students once remarked to him, “Cikgu, kasut cikgu ade mulut.” The student saw that the sole and the top part of the shoe had came apart and needed to be mended, but my dad hadn’t had the chance to buy himself a new pair.
Shoes continued to be a mini obsession for me, but comfort then became a key factor as I grew older. I am a size 9 after all, and size 9 are not easy for an Asian woman to fond in Asia. And most shops only stocked shoes up to size 8.
It was only in my late 20s that I really get a taste of good shoes. I still remember and cherish the time when I got my first Ferragamo. It was a pair of black, flat leather ballet pumps. I had just recovered from a 10 day scare in a hospital. The doctors didn’t quite know what was wrong with me except that I was very very sick and hubby dearest was just so glad when I got better. It made us realize that life is short after all and we might as well set out to do the things that we wanted to do in life, taste the things that we wanted to taste and try whatever it is we wanted to try, before its too late.
And for me, amongst other dreams was to own a pair of Ferragamo shoes. I was walking at Takashimaya when I saw the “Sale” sign on the door. And the shoes were at 50% off. Wow! I looked and looked at the different designs, and I didn’t dare to ask the sales girl for a try. I don’t even know if I could afford any of them, well even if I did, I wasn’t sure if I could justify my purchase. And then came the sweet voice of the sales girl, “Ma’am would you like to try a pair?”
And I caved in. I pointed to the black leather ballet pumps and asked her if she had it in a size 9. Secretly in my heart I was hoping that she’d tell me that it was not available in my size, so I can still walk out of the shop with my head high, (they didn’t have my size, not that I cannot afford those shoes.) But surprisingly she had my size! 9C! It was a perfect fit. My heart was beating my fast, my palms was sweating and I can fell my face going red. And how much were they? $325 after the discount. Gulp! My normal budget for a pair of shoes was $100. At $325 I could get 3 pairs of shoes and 3 coffees!
Thank God for mobile phones so I gave him a call. I told him where I was and that I was trying a pair of the most comfortable shoes in my life. And I asked him if I could buy it. And our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi! Do you remember that I said I’d forgo the F1 tickets for a pair of shoes?
Him: Yess, why?
Me: Well I am in Ferragamo right now and I think I found the pair of shoes that I will trade for the F1 ticket.
Him: How much is it?
Me: Well its 50% off and it used to be $700 plus and now its $325.
Him: Do you really like the pair?
Me: Yes very much so! They are so me, they are screaming my name.
Him: Do you love me?
Me: Yes very much so! And even more if I get this pair.
Him: Well go ahead and get them then.
And so that was how I purchased my first pair of Ferragamo shoes. Although afterwards I did find out that even Ferragamos do give me blisters. And guess what, the ballet pumps didn’t look and feel all too different from the Mary Jane pumps that my parents bought me as a child, the shoes that I hated so much as a child became a model of the type of shoes I selected later in my adult life.
Since then my shoe collection has expanded beyond the one pair of black leather pumps. Thanks to the factory outlet store at Bicester, and a trip to Foxtown in Menderiso my collection of Ferragamo shoes have expanded.
I still don’t believe in paying retail price for my shoes. I would normally wait for the “Sale” sign to appear outside the shops before I would go in to check the shoes out.
And just an hour ago, I was reminded of my insane obsession of shoes. A lady called me because I was a customer of her shoes. On one of my whims purchase I bought a pair of RM200 slippers. They were pink and pretty with beads, made in Lebanon. Overpriced actually but they were so pretty I bought a pair, which I have to admit I haven’t worn out. They are too pretty to be worn out!
And now the lady called to to tell me that she was having a special clearance sale at her house and to introduce her customers to her new collection. Yikess! Did I have a “Obsessed shoe shopper” stamped on my face? Could she tell my obsession for shoes?
But funnily enough, despite the stacks of shoes I have in my closet, I tend to wear my no frills Nine West pumps and my Schol open toes sandals. They are oh, so comfortable, albeit a bit stinky ;)
Shoes, I can never have enough of them ;) Whats your favourite shoe?