Wednesday, September 14

Anyone fancy a good book while waiting?

Hi everyone! I know it's been almost a week since the last post, but I've been waiting for those lasts to arrive and haven't thought of anything useful to post since. But when I see a small but faithful crowd returning everyday to check out if anything new is happening, I really think they deserve a post.

What I wanted to share with you all today, is a fantastic book about the history of the finnish shoe. Well, more like the history of the industrial shoe in Finland, as the tradition of handmade shoes is very belittled in this publication. I don't know what it is that makes us Finns loathe handmade domestic articles, as they're mostly considered just tinkering. It's all wonderful and grand if it's an Parisian shoemaker but if it's domestic... It's just tinkering. This all is of course rough generalization, but it's quite visible in this book and in the exhibition it's based on in Vapriikki, Tampere.
When I met Niina, from Nelliinan Vaatehuone -fashion blog, after visiting the museum and praising the old Finnish shoes she asked me: "well, what has happened with the Finnish shoe? It all looks like they're for grannies now!" A very good question, indeed! And I think this book sheds some light into it. And I think the answer isn't very simple. But one main focus would be the 70's, since when the third world countries started producing cheap basic shoes. For the following decades the finnish shoe industry tried to keep them at bay and produce the same shoes instead of specializing, which would've maybe been the savior of many a fallen company. Some of the companies did specialize, and are nowadays successful, like Sievi, whom produce modern safety/work-boots. There's basically just two companies in Finland that make women's shoes, which is ofcourse the main concern of my blog: Janita and Pertti Palmroth. Both of these companies are to my mind outdated, have ugly designs, ugly heels and their quality just doesn't meet with the price tag. Janita's leather's are better quality, but the shoes are just ugly. Palmroth uses a lot of synthetic leather which is a point I don't understand, also when I was studying a few of their shoes in a store, the quality of work was way below average. Baaad, actually. To my knowledge both of these companies's main markets are in russian export. I know my opinions are quite pointy, but please feel free to correct me :)

Now to the surprise of many, there used to be some extremely stylish, sexy, high quality and fashionable shoes made in Finland back in the day. The book has a nice layout and lots of pictures, which include some old shoe adverts and photos from factories etc.

Let's take a look:
The cover has a great picture of a gorgeus pump from the 1960's, wherein one can see the brilliant craftmanship and the finesse of the design.

On the first pages there's the only mention to actual handmade shoemakers: an old magazine advert by a shoemaker in Tampere.

The chapters are divided to eras, which makes the book easy to comprehend and logical. Qualities that many shoe books are without.

I heard a story about this advert: The traditional shoemakers were publicly hostile towards industrial shoes and claimed openly that because of machines they were of very poor quality. Well Mr. Emil Aaltonen, one of the first gentlemen to start industrial production of shoes responded with this add:
are definitely the most economic to use,
because of the best materials used
and the first class machines
they were made with.

I held my breath when I first saw these. They're an absolute statement of  the high standard of quality. A masterpiece from 1919.

The 1930's doesn't let us down either! Minna Parikka's inspiration is quite visible here.

More of 1930's jewels.

During the WW2, materials were scarce but the Finnish shoe was inventive and even colorful like this example.

Early 1950's pumps. Urvikko -brand.

1960's sleek pump. Groovy baby yeah!

And not all the winter boots were dark brown and black either! Mid 1960's.
The book is a hardcover with 287 pages. Some webstores sell it for about 60€, but you can get it from Vapriikki museum shop for 20€. There's an english print of it too. And the museum is definitely worth the visit!
It's a great book for anyone passionate about shoes, and has a thorough list of Finnish manufacturers at the end with their logos. So they'll come handy if dealing with vintage shoes. I heard a rumor that it's possibly out of print, so get it quick!
ISBN: 9516092764
Buy at CDON.

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