If the Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identity and Transition

Welcome to the ‘If the Shoe Fits’ blog.

This blog was set up in 2010 to complement the ‘If the Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identity and Transition’ research project, conducted in the department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield between 2010 and 2013. Funded by the Economic Social Research Council, the project comprised a team of researchers and associates (other academics and professionals) whose aim it was to study the significance of footwear to identity and transition. This blog enabled us to share our ideas and some of our research with the aim of provoking wider discussions about the significance of footwear to everyday life. Since the completion of the project, the blog has continued to offer a platform through which to extend these conversations.

For a greater explanation of the project, its aims, objectives and articles please visit the project website.


2 Responses to About

  1. Alison says:

    Mum worked for Saxone in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s up until I was born. When they sold ‘proper shoes’ and not mass produced footwear. I can remember her telling me about her customers, some of them actors visitng the New Theatre (in Hull). Mum had really slim feet and only ever bought expensive shoes for herself. She had some lovely honey-coloured sling backs with a square toe and low heel (plus matching handbag) in the late 1960’s. Probably purchased from Saxone.

    So I grew up wearing Startrite fitted shoes, purchased from Hallers in Hull, which had a spiral staircase and smelt of polish. As I lived on a large council estate in East Hull, most of my acquaintances wore the mass produced stuff that Mum wouldn’t dream of buying. They looked so trendy in comparison to my flat brown buckles (or lace-ups as I got older). I can remember when pastel colours were in fashion. I begged for a pair of sandals with a bit of a heel in white, pale blue and lemon coloured ‘patent’. Mum would have none of it as they weren’t leather. I was allowed plastic sandals for the beach or the park. Flat buckle ones in red or brown! Quality was important.

    My favourite shoes were some purple winkle pickers with a cuban heel and a brogue front which I bought from mum’s catalgoue in about 1979. Leather, of course! I used to wear them with a grey dress that I got from Wallis. And an alpaca jacket that had belonged to an Aunt.

    These days, I have a pair of red suede mocassins from Kurt Geiger that I love, but they’re on their last legs! And a pair of Merrel walking sandals that I’ve had since about 2002. They’re old favourites! Not to mention the Rocket Dog pumps with a buckle in grey herringbone with a chrysanthemum design on the front. Why have they stopped making them? I now have a pair of flat black broidery anglaise pumps with a buckle as a replacement (from Jonathan James as the pair in Office are more than twice the price!) for work. They are nothing in comparison.

    Currently my oldest shoes are my wedding shoes from 1984 (cream leather stillettos with a plaited front) and a pair of Romba Wallace navy patent lace-up boots which are an odd pair, bought in a sale. I don’t wear them very often, but they are beautiful, even though they don’t match!

    I love shoes! These are my immediate thoughts when reading the postcard I picked up in the Blue Moon cafe.


  2. Interesting research. I’m working with a bunch of 20 something young professionals in a Berlin start-up firm. There’s a strange vibe to this city as it’s essential to look cool, while it’s also important to be poor! People where a great array of shoes here. It seems that in my company, selling super stylish alpaca blankets by the way, the shoe of choice is an old and weathered boot that looks like it has been chewed up and spat out a few times. If you stroll out of the office and down Weinmeiseter Strasse in North Mitte, you will see boutique upon boutique of these shabby chic stores. Its interesting for me because in the UK, trainers are such a symbol of identity, where as here, where the snow falls and the wind get chilly, there seems to be more of an onus on functionality.


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