Just shoe me!

by Ifeanyi Dike Jr

I reckon that the fascination of the female species with shoes should be a course of study by now. In the female kingdom so-to-speak, the magical ability of shoes to authorise and enchant cannot be measured. For women, just hearing the name ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Louboutin’ can cause a quickening of the heart and awaken the sort of devotion that most men experience only in the lines of soccer and scotch.

Today, the evolving relationship between men and their shoes is something of a threat to the once exclusive female shoe-affair. Men are paying more attention than ever before to what goes on their feet; possibly even thinking in the same light as women. Suddenly, it is fashion over function.

They are starting to realise that their shoes are certainly capable of leaving just as lasting an impression as women’s. And designers are taking full advantage of this newly found, erm, wisdom…?

At the Milan Men’s Fashion Week, Jimmy Choo is launching a line of men’s shoes.

“You can get away with a pair of worn-out jeans or the most rough-and-tumble suit, and if the shoes are well fitting and well cared for, the whole outfit passes,” explains Hilary Freeman, who runs British shoemaker Edward Green. “But even if you are wearing the best tailored suit and the shoes are not up to the mark, well …” Her voice trails off.

The pinnacle of men’s footwear, of course, is the handmade shoe. Having brogues and oxfords made to order is becoming quite the trend in Lagos. First, it started with the men in fashion and now all men are getting familiar with the art of fancy footwear.

Let me share a story. At the Arise Magazine Fashion Week, I was dressed to the nines, and everything I wore was tailored to fit. But in all my ‘dapperness’ I failed to bother about the shoes. They didn’t look ram-shackled or anything. They were just regular black shoes. Still I thought no one would pay any attention. Boy was I wrong! People I spoke to said “hey, you look nice, well except for the shoes.”

And the ones that couldn’t verbalise it, said it with their eyes. And who can blame them? That place was filled with amazing male shoes on and off the runway, and from backstage to red-carpet. So as you would suspect, I was uncomfortable for the rest of the show. The next morning, nobody had to tell me to get me some new shoes. People are no longer joking! Shoes are ‘it’ this season onwards.

Terence Sambo of onenaijaboy.com, (whose love for shoes can only be compared to a person’s need for oxygen) says his shoes are extensions of his personality. Terence’s collection is absolutely different from the array of annoying urban footwear like plimsolls that have flooded the nation. He doesn’t just wear any shoe that fits; he searches far and wide to find footwear ranging from the tassled look to espadrilles. Your shoes should have character and ought to mirror your personality.

Seun Anifowose, owner of Ani footwear (a thriving shoe brand) saw favourable patronage at the Arise Magazine Fashion Week when he collaborated with another shoemaker to form the brand “Haus of Hercules”. Their shoes made an appearance in every male collection and people took notice; requesting pairs, so much so that the next day the red carpet looked like a Haus of Hercules convention. Ani recently unveiled a new collection of toms, sandals and everything in between made from such luxury materials as velvet and ankara. And consumers and fashion critics are impressed with the variety in colour, range but mostly, comfort.

Shoes are making delightful waves in the world of men’s fashion. So maybe finally, we understand the satisfaction experienced by women or maybe we never will. But one thing is for sure; our shoes do not command the same attention as a pair of killer-heels. They certainly are not a Louboutin. The effect is rather subtle but the message is quite clear, WE LOVE OUR SHOES TOO!

This article first appeared on www.234next.com on 10 July, 2011.

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