et's see. How am I doing on my To Do list? Well, I can tell you that it's gotten even longer. Last week I hinted that I wanted to introduce you to an innovative clog maker from The Netherlands. I've since followed up by sending off a set of interview questions and a request for photos. Full details will be showing up here once I've gotten the necessary replies in my Inbox.
I also mentioned a shoe manufacturer in Portugal that caught my eye and stole my heart with their totally on target clogs, clog sandals, and clog boots. I paid their website a fresh visit this past week and discovered, OMG! OMG! OMG!, their spring/summer 2015 line is being unveiled. I've been wanting to interview them, too, but I think I'm just going to play catch up on all the styles I didn't know they were putting out over the past four or five years and pave the way to doing a proper feature on them once their new designs have been released to the English speaking world.
And speaking of Portugese shoe makers, that handcrafted pair I order from an enterprising Etsy seller just arrived on Saturday, and I think they're an amazing find for the money. Details below.
Meanwhile, I noticed this past week that a singing duo from Sweden seemed to be sporting clogs in a number of their recent publicity photos. I was all set to call this fact to your attention (with visual aids) when out of the blue a new e-blast arrived from Swedish Hasbeens announcing their new relationship with that musical outfit. So I have even more visual aids to augment the story.
And then, retailers have provided this clog crazed consumer with another gratifying week of sightings and sales. I'll share some of the best of the batch with you before this post is over.
Whew! I've got my work cut out for me! Let's get to it!
New clog boots from FeiradeBarcelos
Not far from where I live in the suburbs of Chicago, there's a shop called Ten Thousand Villages. Take a peek inside and it's easy to figure out how it got its name. This cozy and cluttered shop is full to bursting with the creative output of craftspeople from small communities around the world. The shop's stated mission is to eradicate poverty by empowering and enriching artisans in developing countries, and I quite admire that D. I. Y. attitude that drives their work.
I know I'm comparing apples with oranges (or at least tangerines with oranges) when I take the conversational leap to Etsy seller FeiradeBarcelos. Scroll back a couple of posts and you'll get more of the story about how I discovered this plucky enterpreneur from the north of Portugal. Or better yet, let me quote from the introduction owner Maria da Feira has posted on her Etsy site:
“Feira de Barcelos” is the name of the weekly open market of my hometown, Barcelos. This small northern city is widely known for its pottery. Actually, this is the birthplace of the colorful Portuguese Rooster (Galo de Barcelos), also known as Good-Luck Rooster.
But Barcelos is not all about pottery. There, you can find the biggest experts in all sort of traditional crafts, from wooden to basketry, from weaving to embroideries, from copper to iron. For some reason, Barcelos is called The Portuguese Capital of Handicrafts.
Two years ago, I founded a project aimed to promote our local expertise in handmade products. It is named after the local weekly open market and can be found at www.feiradebarcelos.com. [Ed. note: the site is in Portugese so have your Google Translate window open]
Here you’ll find a selection of our local handmade production.
I was aware of the traditional Portugese clogs that FeiradeBarcelos had been carrying. And after I gave her shop a featured mention in a previous post, she sent me a little thank you gift.
But when she told me in an Etsy message that she had clog boots in the works, I lit up like a Koch brother at a political fundraiser. "Tell me more," I wrote. "Take a look," she replied.
Next thing I knew I'd placed an order.
Now, I've done business with small shops overseas before, and the experience is always a leap of faith. If the final product disappoints, you can't just drive over and complain. It really does feel like a roll of the dice to me when I put in my order. And I can say that by and large I haven't been disappointed by the items I've received. But I was not at all prepared for the excellence of these clog boots I purchased from FeiradeBarcelos. The craftsmanship is exquisite. The construction is expertly performed and flawless in its handmade appeal. The design and the overall proportions are absolutely eye pleasing. And best of all, these boots are totally comfortable to wear. I simply told Maria the length of my foot, and she recommended the size to order. If this had been an eBay transaction, I'd want to award her with more than the five stars allotted. But take a look for yourself!
The shoes were so fine that I built an outfit around them to wear when Melissa and I went out to dinner to use our Groupon for a Chicago sushi restaurant. The only disappointing part of the evening was that the restaurant had closed for the week and we had to scramble to find somewhere else to eat. Fortunately my favorite crepe restaurant was in the neighborhood ("since 1972") and once the Chocolate Grand Marnier dessert crepes arrived at the end of our meal, all was well with the world.
Oh, and I wanted to share Maria's handwritten note that accompanied my shoes.
To Maria I'm sending out a big THANK YOU! These clog boots are gorgeous. I will be walking proudly in them!
To you readers who love a good bargain, surf your way over to the FeiradeBarcelos page for these Work Boots. They're being offered at a discount that brought my total cost, shipping included, to under $100.00. That's the sort of deal that we footwear fanatics lie awake at night dreaming about!
Maria's already made another sale. Melissa saw me in mine and decided that she wanted a pair for herself!
May I introduce you to Xuz?
You read that right. Xuz. X-U-Z. And from what I can tell, it's pronounced just like we English speakers would say "shoes." Pretty clever!
Xuz is a Portugese shoe maker that has been crafting impressive collections of wooden goodness (along with their all leather designs) twice a year since 2008. (If you follow the link, you'll need to select the English version and then choose Collections from the options available.) Good Lord! I only just discovered them a couple of weeks ago. You and I have a lot to get caught up on!
Am I the only one who a) wishes this picture was bigger so I could see the shoes better and b) would like to be there trying on some of those styles, too?
Okay. I'm feeling lightheaded. Like I'd just discovered this blog for the first time and spent an hour and a half reading the most recent two years' worth of posts. It's the feeling of cool clog overload. And the knowledge that I couldn't possibly purchase everything I'd like to from the pictures I've seen. Melissa has a word she uses that sums up that sensation: "Ungh!"
I'm going to stop right here and take a couple of deep breaths. Then I'm going to see if I can get more details from this awesomely creative company before I share any details about the even newer styles I've spotted on their Portugese pages. Stay tuned.
New Bed|Stü style
Swedish Hasbeens spokespersons, First Aid Kit
What is your major fashion inspiration?
We're very into sixties and seventies fashion. We love going to vintage stores and discovering old treasures. There's something about that time, culturally, musically, visually, that we are very drawn to.
Why did you decide to name your album Stay Gold?
The whole record is about time and realizing how fleeting life can be. Nothing stays, everything will pass and how should you relate to that? It's about struggling to find your way and trying to stay gold. For us staying gold means to live in the moment and appreciate what you have right in front of you.
Why did you decide to team up with Swedish Hasbeens?
Clogs have always been the ultimate shoe type for us! We've always felt Swedish Hasbeens make our dream stage shoes. They go hand in hand with the outfits we wear and the music we make. We love the folkloristic designs and the natural wooden materials.
How cool! That's the kind of corporate sponsorship I can get behind! You go, girls!
Swedish Hasbeens (and more) on sale
Well, that made a good dent in my list of things that needed doing. Have a great week, and be sure to wear something fun everyday. Maybe even something noisy!