Category Archives: footwear

A Statement In Black And White

In the 60s and 70s, when Adidas was mistaken for a mosquito breed, and before other so-called sports shoes stepped into the footwear scene, men took great pride in wearing leather shoes.  Of these came a fashion – an essentially white-bodied leather ornamented with shiny black patches in strategic places.

In fact, as a kid and in my youth, I had worn through several such pairs.  (My parents must have skipped many lunches to buy them).

Oh yes, one of my school principals was a dyed-in-the-leather fan of these shoes. Without fail, he would strut up and down outside the classrooms daily, making an unmistakeable B&W statement that he was serious with discipline in the school.

Of course views are different today – people prefer 50 shades of gray (or more), interspersed with a revolt of colours.

Happy Feet

Believe me, I was never a penguin before…lolx.   But many of us  did have Happy Feet anyway.

At one time decades ago, kampong folks decided to give retired tyres a new lease of life, by fashioning them into sandals.  I suspect it could have been the owner of the sole tyre service shop who introduced that idea.   Every guy in our home had a pair.

Ergonomically, these footwear were a near-heresy by today’s standards — the inside surface contour was a total mismatch with that of the sole of our feet.  They were a novelty and looked pretty cool (though some people thought they were ugly). Walking around with these on made us feel great, though initially we tended to wobble a bit like those cute fellas in the movie.

Has anyone else tried these before?

Shoe Whitening Was A Piece Of Cake

Most of us probably remember the good old school days, when we wore white canvas shoes to school.  And yes, there was the dreaded weekly grind of having to wash them on weekends, and then lovingly (grudgingly, for some) applied an overcoat of Liquid Whitener (perhaps from Kiwi).

But long before Kiwi and others became that clever, shoe white came in the form of a cake of compressed white powder.  There were several brands — the local made ones were cheap, something like 20 cts a piece.  To apply, we just removed the wrapper, and then rubbed the cake all over the still-wet shoes.

Upon contact with the wet surfaces, the powder turned slightly bluish.  Once fully dried in the sun, a brilliant white finish was attained.  ‘Twas that easy !

Cobbler Cobbler Mend My Shoes

Get it done by half-past two.  Recall that nursery rhyme  ?

When was the last time you had your shoes mended by a cobbler ?  I have not done that for a long long time.

In my years of growing up, a pair of shoes would be worn till the front started to gape like a hungry crocodile, or holes started to appear in the soles.   Then off we went in search of a cobbler to patch it up, perhaps with a pair of new soles.  It would have undergone several new leases of life before it finally got discarded.

It is a very different world today, as shoes morphed from “footwear” to “fashion statements”, with especially the younger womenfolk vying to outdo Imelda Marcos.  They (I mean the shoes! ) get thrown out long before they get worn out.   

Pretty Beads For Dainty Feet

Complementing the Kebaya Peranakan were of course the Kasut Manek, or Beaded Shoes.  These were mid-to-high heelers,  covered on the front top with tiny colored beads – painstakingly and lovingly stitched into place by hand – arrayed in a variety of exquisite patterns.

These were masterpieces of art, and back in those days, were highly sought after by all ladies, regardless of age.   But they were not cheap.  Most of my female relatives could only afford a pair or two of these in their life-times.   When matched with the Kebaya‘s – wow, you’ve got a stunning combination.

These shoes are still  being made today, by specialist shops to custom orders by well-heeled connoisseurs with dainty feet.