Archive for October, 2007
ECCO is one of those brands that’s pretty synonymous with comfort footwear. They’re a classic staple of the field, and there’s good reason for that. The Danish-based company have been making good quality, walkable shoes since 1963. And (hear the bells ring out), for the last few years their style has been improving by Superman-size leaps and bounds.
I remember about 5 years ago, I was on a trip to Scandinavia and Iceland. Every store had those excellent boxer-inspired boots on display, and they hadn’t reached the USA yet. I was dying for a pair, but my shopping day in Copenhagen was a Sunday, and most stores were closed. I remember a mad dash through the Copenhagen airport as soon as I saw they had a duty-free ECCO store, the fastest shoe try-on in memory, and a lightning speed payment for a seriously awesome (and comfy, of course) pair of ECCO boxer boots that weren’t being sold in the States.
And things have only gotten better. I mean, who’d think that these sexy Bonn tall boots would actually be built for comfort?
The pointy toe, the laser cut-out cuff, the sleek skinny heel. All normally trappings of high fashion (aka high discomfort) styles. But not so here! ECCO makes shoes to fit your feel, not shoes to force your feet into. And the price on these gorgeous things? A mere $210, which is highly reasonable for a pair of high quality, high fashion, comfortable knee boots.
And the style offerings out now range from the sleekly chic to the rocker fantastic. The Bern ankle boot ($160) might as well be straight off Debbie Harry in her Blondie heyday.
It’ll bring just enough attitude to your wardrobe without leaving the realm of the “work appropriate.”
And speaking of work appropriate, that’s a whole new realm ECCO’s begun to offer over the past few years. No longer are they just walking shoes. Now you can head to the office and the office party in any number of classy ECCO pumps, like the Bristol line, which includes a basic 3″ version and a patent t-strap (both $140).
And keep your eyes open for the upcoming Spring 2008 shoes. We got a sneak peek at some of them at the Las Vegas WSA show last summer, and they are ADORABLE!
Of course, in the name of our Shoeblogging duty, your intrepid bloggers test-ran some of the fall ECCOs, and we’re here to report on our exceedingly impressive findings.
I had a bit of a runaround before I finally ended up with the Bremen boots. At first, I was really drawn to the “biker with style” look of the Supreme High boot:
But when I got them, although there were removable insoles that let me fit my orthotics in quite nicely, the circumference of the calf was much too wide. I should have paid closer attention to the website, where the calf circumference is listed as 16″ (I generally look for 14″ and smaller).
Ah well, back to the drawing board. And the drawing board brought me to the Bremen tall boot, which was a smarter option for me, anyway, since I’ve been looking for a good knee-high, classy brown leather boot.
This boot certainly fits that bill well. From the picture I was afraid the heel would be too chunky for me (I prefer thinner heels), but in person that’s not an issue. They’re very nice looking, hitting a good compromise between dress boots and the riding boot style that I quite like. The calf circumference is 14 3/4″, which is better for me, but still would be a bit loose except for the fact that the little buckle up at the top is not just there for decoration. It’s functional and cinched in the top of the boot so it was just right. The brown is a bit lighter in person than this picture (I’d say chocolate rather than espresso), but it’s a very rich brown and soft leather.
So, that’s the review looks-wise. Now, how does it feel? In the main, very good. The soles are flexible and have a good non-slip traction to them. The toe tapers in a bit, but not too much, so my wide feet didn’t feel squeezed at all. And it’s roomier than many brands, so no place on my feet was cramped. I wore them all day at work and then out to dinner and a movie with friends, and the only issue I’d say I had with them was that there’s not enough arch support for me. Of course, this is a subjective statement, and someone with lower arches than mine might be perfectly satisfied. But for me the combination of not enough arch support and a comfortably roomy fit meant that my feet slid forward a little in the shoe, so by the end of my day walking around, I was feeling a bit of discomfort in the balls of my feet.
However, all that said, the day I wore them involved more walking around the pavement than I usually go in for during my normal day, and it was only at the very end of that day that any pain at all cropped up. Overall, I give these boots two thumbs up in both the looks and comfort departments and am very satisfied with my new brown boots.
Shomore– Manila Peek-A-Boo Toe
For me, ECCO has always been a reputable shoe brand known for their comfort but not so much for their sense of style (see post of the ECCO Shade 3 that I purchased for my mom. BTW she loves the shoes.). Fortunately, it looks like they’ve upped the ante on the style quotient. Case in point, don’t ECCO’s Bonn Ankle Boot look like great rocker boots? I couldn’t believe they were made by ECCO.
The Bonn boots were not available at the time, but I did get a chance to try the Manila Peek-A-Boo pump instead. I chose these pumps because they are feminine and classy – perfect for wearing into the office (even ones that discourage showing any toes) but also good to wear under jeans too.
The fit – Out of the box, the Manila shoes were a half size larger than I expected. No worries, I exchanged and soon had a pair in the right size. Once I exchanged into a half size smaller, the shoes fit me well. In the past, I’ve run into issues with peep toe shoes. One toe would always find a way at peeping out uncomfortably on its own. No toe issues here. Also nice was an ample toe box, good for wiggle room.
The feel- With any pumps over 2 inches, I usually have a few problems. The range of maladies include have my feet slide down the pump, an unstable heel which leave me teetering, and overall discomfort after wearing shoes for more than an hour. I discovered NONE of these issues with the Manila! After wearing these to a charity dinner (I paired them under a black suit), my feet were still as happy as can be. The heel was thick and stable enough without being chunky and I soon discovered that I had confidence to walk around freely in the pumps. Best of all, although I didn’t wear any nylons, I didn’t experience issues with sweaty feet.
The fashion – These ECCO shoes are no Louboutins but that was okay with me. I was happy to sacrifice a bit of style for comfort. The Manila Peek-A-Boo pumps are super cute and feminine. I liked the detailed stitching on the vamp. It added a little bit of flair to the peep-toes.
Overall, I will continue to observe ECCO. ECCO already has the comfort formula down and it is good to see that style is now coming into play too. I used to think ECCO shoes were for my mother’s age group, but find that notion fading away.
Shoesense: Budapest Mini T-strap
I chose a bright, colorful patent shoe-the Budapest Mini T-strap ($120), which is available in three colors: black, olive, and brick. Mine was the brick version below:
Simply put, these shoes are AWESOME. In person, they seem brighter, almost deep-red (I initially expected a darker terracotta, I guess); they are cheerful, well made, and overall, extremely attractive (and yes, they will get noticed!). But the real bombshell was the fit: The Budapest flat is outrageously comfortable, something you don’t really expect from a pointy-toe flat. The toe-box is so well made that your toes have room to wiggle despite the pointy-design, which almost makes me mad at other designers of pointy-toe shoes: how come their shoes torture our feet, whereas ECCO has got it exactly right? Hm? Think about that!
The outsole is rubber, very flexible and cushy, and the design is such that you can wear them barefoot, too, without any fears of rubbing and blisters. In fact, this shoe demonstrates that well-made shoes do NOT need a break-in period: they felt supremely comfortable right out of the box. I wore them with dark jeans and a horizontal-striped black-and-white H&M T-shirt, and they finished the outfit with just the right amount of pizzazz.
The price is right (a little on the higher-end, but definitely not outrageous), the patent is right-on-trend, the cute mini T-strap is just the right amount of detail, and the colors are extremely wearable. Overall, I give this shoe a glowing A, and I look forward to other ECCO offerings!
I know I’m getting ahead of myself here with the Ugg boots already, but they are indeed starting to show up on people’s feet in New York (quite unnecessarily to my mind, since it’s hardly gotten below 60 degrees here). Now, I know there’s an ongoing debate about whether they’re great or awful, but I’m here to come down firmly on the side of love for these boots (which I’ve raved about before).
I recognize that they’re not the most fashionable (although more on that later), but they’re really the only thing that keeps my perpetually cold feet warm in the winter, and I’ve been relying on a succession of Ultra Talls to serve this important purpose for over 10 years now. Allow me to wax on about how they manage this for a moment.
Basically, when the boots are all made of sheepskin and sheepwool, they have natural wicking properties, so even though they’re not waterproof per se, they will keep the water and snow away from your feet when the boots get wet. Only thing that holds this up is if you wear socks with them. Seriously. Don’t wear socks. They’ll keep your feet much warmer and drier without the socks, which just soak up all that moisture and keep it right next to your feet. If you must wear socks, make sure they’re some wicking material like polypropelene or one of those high-tech hiking type socks.
OK, so I recognize that most people who wear Uggs at this point are actually doing it for the fashion statement, and that the ongoing war is between people who tend to go for the “mini skirt and Uggs” look (which I’m not really into) and people who say these things are hideous clunky, fashionless monstrosities (which I don’t really agree with either). I think I’m probably in the minority of people who really love these boots for their functionality. But c’est la vie. And I embrace their clunky style.
So, imagine my pleased surprise when I went to check out the newest crop of Ugg offerings and found some that I quite like the look of. Allow me to demonstrate.
The Classic Tall ($160) has been updated in a few new fun colors, including metallic pewter, gold, and a sweater knit that hits my cosy winter buttons bigtime. Just pass me the hot apple cider now.
The new Rina boot ($225) has a fun ribbon that wraps around the shaft, and I love this brown/gold color combination.
The Locarno boot ($250) has a great bomber-jacket-inspired look in black or two variations of brown with sheepskin and straps and leather, oh my!
The Upside boot ($225) comes in a variety of leather and suede options and makes me want to hit the excellent sledding hill in the town where I grew up.
Of course, in an effort to keep up with fashion, Ugg has also launched the “high fashion” Nolita line of more typical styles like the Caroline ($295) and the Greenwich line, including the Felicity ($295), but I sill prefer the clunkier looking boots. Everyone and their mother can find a nice looking leather boot somewhere, but since I like Uggs for their cozy factor, I’m sticking with that tried and true chunky warm fleecy style and embracing my winter bundled self.
In the ongoing quest for comfort and fashion, Easy Spirit has recently made great strides. I just peeked into the nearby Easy Spirit store on a whim and discovered their E Collection, which is a bit higher end than their regular line in terms of materials, refinement, and style, and includes some really nice shoes. Very impressive.
Most of them are available online, and while they’re a bit pricier than regular Easy Spirits, they’re still extremely reasonable ($169 is as high as they go), so here are some of my favorite E by Easy Spirit shoes.
The Preston ballet flat comes in several cute and classic color combos with fun names like “jester red and orange” and “blue chive” and it’s only $85.
I think I’ve blogged about the well-named Attractive before, but it’s so classy and elegant I’m repeating myself. It’s perfect for work or for a night out. And it also comes in a bunch of colors. The black patent isn’t on sale, so it’s $169, but all the others on the site are now marked down to $100. I must note that the version of this shoe that really caught my eye in the store was a different color. It was a beautiful burgundy/brownish patent. There was also a very nice muted coppery gold patent. So you might want to check out the Easy Spirit store near you for the newest color range.
The Impact pump is that shoe that every businesswoman should have for her work shoe wardrobe. And don’t worry about the pointy toe, because you can get this one (as well as the Preston and many other Easy Spirit shoes) in N, M, or W widths to help fit your feet in there. Only $85!
Here’s a reason why shopping in person can be much better than shopping online. This next shoe, the Kimberlin wedge ($79) looks yucky on the website, in my opinion. However, in person, it looks cute and chic. It’s not too clunky, not too casual, and in the gray it’s perfect for fall trendiness.
Those are my faves, but there are plenty more that are quite stylish and really nice looking. The quality may not be quite the same as a Taryn Rose or a Paul Green, but you’d really have a hard time telling that from looking at these shoes, even looking up close in person. The leathers and suedes are nice looking and very smooth. The stitching is neatly done, the arch supports are mostly pretty firm, and almost all of these are available in three different widths and half sizes so you can find the perfect fit.
posted by: shoesense in Fendi Shoes
You’ve probably heard by now about the Great Wall of China Fendi extravaganza. No? Then go read about it immediately. I have to admit: a really, really gutsy idea! Not the mention, now it’s going to be so much easier (and faster) for all those Chinese Fendi-knock-offs to flood the market!
At any rate, I was, surprise-surprise, concerned with the shoes. As it was usually the case this year, the point of interest lay in the heels, and Fendi’s gimmick is this chunky-chain heel. I have to confess I wasn’t impressed with either the height, which made models scrunch their toes for dear life, or the way the straps wrapped around the foot. In all honesty, it made some of the models look club-footed, especially from a distance. I’m not a fan of the chained heel either. I find it gimmicky, precious, and ultimately…meh. What do you think?
posted by: fred in This week in shoes
Footwear News interviews the unstoppable Pierre Hardy. Hint: he created the mind-blowing Balenciaga shoes at his show in Paris. 50 hours of manual labor went into the creation of each shoe, apparently.
Shoe exhibits keep a-coming: this week, Most Influential Shoe Designers of the 20th Century, in Milwaukee.
Jessica Seinfeld thanks Oprah with 21 pairs of Louboutins (with video). And we all want Jessica Seinfeld to suddenly become our BFF.
Chicago Tribune writes about the rise of comfortable/fashionable footwear.
Oh, how I love me some Men in Heels!
- Dads go to extreme heights to score Hannah Montana tickets for their kids. In related news, Payless recalls ‘Hannah Montana’ boots.
The Baltimore Sun rides the wave of Croc-hate. I have to say, the anti-Croc movement has reached some momentum–I hope the result will be visible on the feet of our fellow-pedestrians! (PS: Crocs are also prone to escalator incidents.)
Intermittent cries for more comfortable and stylish footwear heard all over the world–in this edition, Suffering fashionista, heel thyself!
Finally, in The New York Times, Kathleen Egan waxes poetic over women’s unexplainable attraction to shoes such as these (from Dior):