Monday, March 31, 2014

Germany - The Home of Hideous Shoes

You really do have to hand it to the Germans, they are absolutely unbeatable when it comes to bad shoes. There seems to be some sort of belief that shoes are supposed to be practical, comfortable and long-lasting, and let's face it, if one were going for a long hike in the hills, or even prone to taking a pleasant walk along the seafront each day (oh sorry, I meant along some cemented walkway with a few withering trees, beside a motorway), well yes, it helps if you are not wearing stilettos or dainty little ballerinas that give you blisters.
Exhibit 1: Mad Shoe Professor & Daughter

But hello - it doesn't end here. Do they really have to be this hideous? In an attempt to understand the minds of the shoe makers in the country I now call home,  I am desperately trying to come up with a theory that might justify how these shoes came into existence. Exhibit 1 - wide, wild flowery peacock look shoes with cork insoles. 100% comfort, 100% durability, 0% cool,                        minus-a-gizzilion% sexy.
My theory here is that the shoe factory hired a mad shoe professor and asked him to design the perfect pair of shoes. As this professor was the traumatised son of war refugees who walked across Siberia, tragically walking in the wrong direction, sharing one pair of second-hand shoes, arriving to Japan only to find themselves surrounded by people walking around in flip-flops with wedges,  and then walking all the way back until ending up in Germany, one can understand that his only thoughts were those of comfort and durability.
But then the boss of the shoe factory decided that a fashion factor would also be important, so the shoe professor took the nice wide cork soled inventions home to his six year old daughter who 'coloured them in'.
Exhibit 2 - No nonsense, cost-saving design made in Swabia.
Exhibit 2: 
This shoe has obviously been cleverly designed by cutting out little pieces of the leather and recycling them in order to make the fun ('fann' as the Germans like to say), pretty, attractive bow at the side. The practical, dog-poo, brown colour also means that the shoe is camouflage compatible should the wearer have to go to war at short notice, or alternatively should the wearer just wish to play hide-and-seek in the woods. In this case, exhibit 1 wouldn't stand a chance, unless the game of hide-and-seek took place in butterfly land. Again, 100% in the durability department, but only an 80% for comfort, as the tips of the flower may cause irritation. Reader, if you find this shoe in any way sexy, please visit a therapist. But that's the thing, I'm in Germany, shoes are not supposed to be sexy, right? In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if anything is, but this question will be explored in a later blog. It's all about cultural integration I guess.
So I'm here on a train looking at shoes and feeling sorry for German foot fetishists. I'm also terrified to take any photos as the one time I did that on a train here, there police were called. I only wanted to take a photo of the nice train conductor and write a blog about train conductors don't have personalities and ponder on whether they are really automised robots, but it all fell flat when he objected to the photo and I objected to deleting it and at the next station the police boarded the train in order to clear up the problem. Then I really really really wanted a photo of the policemen with the ticket inspector, but instead I just showed the police my camera with the already deleted photo of robot-ticket-man (who I bet wears open-toe sandals and white tennis socks in private, at the mini-golf playground).
So all I can do is post a photo of my own shoes, just to let you know that despite the recent sabbatical in order to research German shoe culture, I have indeed, managed to retain my 'ageing grungie converse' look. I swear…