Colleen Carlisle: I Spy Style


Status Shoes

She’s a rich girl
She don’t try to hide it
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

Paul Simon Graceland, 1986

For centuries and across all cultures, shoes have often been an indicator of wealth and status. Handmade shoes, usually from England, Austria and other parts of Europe, are considered an ultimate luxury. In everyday North America, the red soles of a Christian Louboutin stiletto are an enviable possession.

The most coveted and instantly recognizable shoes in the business were a happy accident intended merely to highlight where the arch meets the stem of the heel. A happy accident that has catapulted Mr. Louboutin to the top of the Luxury Brands Status Index more than once.

Other luxury shoe brands include Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen (Lady Gaga and her penchant for the extreme have helped this along) , Yves St. Laurent (think snub-toed with thick hidden platforms and a super skinny heels) and Gucci (a fave of logo lovers with their branded fabric collection).

But with many of these shoes in the $500 to $900 range, at what point do we consider it outrageous to spend that kind of money on shoes? Shoes with red soles that you technically aren’t even supposed to see? And what does a luxury shoe really say about you as a person? Are these diamonds on the soles of our shoes?

Fans of Diablo Cody certainly seemed to think we’re going too far. In a famous expensive shoe backlash, the Oscar-winning screenwriter decided to forgo her plans to wear a pair of million-dollar, jewel-encrusted Stuart Weitzman shoes on the 2008 red carpet in favour of no-name golden flats. Seems her fans questioned her Indie credibility once they heard she had been selected to wear the gorgeous diamond dressed pumps.

Taking it one step further, could a shoe conceivably give back and still be considered stylish? Consider footwear makes TOMS, whose One For One movement gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need with every shoe purchased.

In many countries, shoes mean an education. Even my own grandfather did not attend university in Ontario in the 1940s because he didn’t have shoes he considered “good enough”.

My first argument against TOMS was that I wasn’t keen on the amount of branding on the shoe itself, with it’s funny little tag on the side as well as emblazoned across the back of the heel. But isn’t that the same branding as a pair of red soles or the Gucci logo woven all over the shoe? Perhaps a company like TOMS could benefit from some instant recognition of their own.

It turns out, these shoes are comfortable and lightweight with wedge styles and colours that are totally on-trend. You can find them online or at Aritzia stores nationwide. I’ll be sporting this pair of Coral Cork Wedges, you can be sure.

I’ll have to save the red soles for another season.