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A Closer Look at Fluevog: Shoes as Works of Art

I remember when I first became obsessed with boots. I was 9 years old, and I saw an illustration of a Victorian style mid-calf length boot in an American Girl book. The girl who wore it was named Samantha (I can’t believe I still remember that), and the boots were simple black leather with a lace-up front, a very low heel and a slightly pointy but rounded off toe.

It was love at first sight, and that obsession never abated to this day, decades later, where I find myself refusing to wear any other shoes than my knee-high, lace-up front boots on a daily basis. My current pair will trod on its fifth birthday in a few months.

I was pointed towards Fluevog by a fellow boot lover I met eight years ago, whose womens’ boots can often be found with the lovely Victorian roots. But his shoes are not mere replicas, each design has a uniqueness that can only be described as works of art. No detail is overlooked, every effect including leather wrinkling on the tops of the shoes are intentional, every stitching is placed and highlighted to complement the overall design. He even designs the soles, most of which carry an amusing message of some sort, making it worth spending the time to turn over every shoe every season to see what he did there.

I know I posted a brief look at Fluevog not too long ago, but as soon as I posted it I knew I wasn’t satisfied. I’ve been drooling over his shoes for far too long only as mere pictures online. With a retail location less than 20 miles away, there was no excuse for me to not go there in person and see everything for myself and share the wonderful experience.

There’s an amazing cult following of Fluevog that is rarely seen in the world of fashion, and I can easily see why. Heck, I’m one of its members. His shoe designs are so unique that they are never replicated elsewhere, and they usually last a mere season and then are never seen again. Search for his older designs on eBay and it’s like looking for prized antiques, prices going up beyond twice what they originally sold for. Perhaps his most famous boot, the Grand Nationals, even has its own Facebook fan page.

It’s one thing to see pictures of them, another thing to see them in person, and quite a special thing to actually put them on your feet. I have a few friends who have owned Fluevogs in the past and they’ve always raved about how comfortable they are. As a woman, I hear that and respond “Sure sure, they probably are more comfortable than most shoes, but you’re not telling me that a pair of heels feels like a pair of slippers.”

Well, it was my turn to be laughed at as I slipped into a pair of five-inch heels and did not feel the arch stretch, or the entire weight of my body on the balls of my feet. I knew I was wearing heels, but could not feel them! Of course, who knows what I would feel after walking in them for three hours straight, but given the lack of feeling any pressure on any part of my foot initially, I know that I will feel significantly less pain than I would if I were wearing any other shoe of the same height.

The Union Square location in San Francisco is mostly visited by tourists, many who had never heard of Fluevog and look around with fascination. There I was guided by Eric, who was able to tell me exactly how each shoe design was inspired, and yes, comfort being a key part of turning every inspiration into reality. “[John Fluevog] is more of an artist than a businessman”, that is, his passion for shoes and creating designs overrides all else, something I was grateful to hear as a fan.

I was not so happy to hear, however, that Lauryn Hill bought the absolute last pair of the boots I wanted in my size.

Ah, how I would love to open my own boot museum, and have an entire room dedicated to every design that Fluevog ever made!

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This entry was posted on April 18, 2012 by in Fashionable and tagged , , , , .


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