"I'm moving," her friend replied. "But life moves faster!"
Let me tell you, this week I know just what she means.
At least the weekend has arrived and I can finally downshift for a few moments to enter this blog space we revel in together. Have I told you lately how much I appreciate your being there? It's good to hang out with people who get the things I get, and I find it a pleasure to have a community here with you all. What a delight to find ourselves in the digital age. It is truly one of the wonders of the internet that technology has allowed us kindred spirits to connect. Twenty years ago we would have been crushing on clogs in solitude, maybe even with a preference for privacy. But now, we can marvel at the retail garden of earthly delights we inhabit and thrill to the excitement of the shopping hunt and the footwear feast that follows. Woo-hoo! Life may move faster than we like, but at least our feet will look marvelous as it hurries us along.
And for those moments when we need an extra coping mechanism to get us through a day, there's always chocolate. So before we embark this weekend's journey through the world of wooden goodness, let's pause a moment to fortify our bodies and souls for the experiences that are in the offing. I can't remember where I was on the internet or why, but when I saw the amazing chocolate creations of Mexico's Unelefanten, I knew I had to bring some into my home. You see, my partner in life and shoe lust, Melissa, is as rabid a fan of dark chocolate as I am. She is also both an artist and an individual who thrives on visual stimulation. She once described herself as "intoxicated by color." So when I saw Unelefanten's remarkably unique chocolate bars, Tabletas Pollock, I had to surprise her with some. Click the link to gaze in wonder upon their professional quality product photos, much more vivid than anything I could hope to provide with my iPhone and a ceiling light below. I just thought I'd try to treat you to the suspense of "unboxing" their fabulous creations. I've nibbled through a third of a bar just before starting this post, but seeing these images, I've got an inclination to treat myself to even more!
Danskos, big and small
One of the great frustrations of being a footwear lover is the fact that while our feet are typically one size from day to day, the shoes that catch our eye can't be depended on to be the same size from brand to brand. Especially when you live at the tall size end of the spectrum as I do. One maker's roomy size 11 fits more comfortably than another maker's wincingly excruciating size 12. And if the uncertainties of ordering "your size" from different designers weren't agonizing enough, how do you best cope with having the fit vary from style to style within a single brand?
Oh, inconsistency of it all!
I've collected quite a few clog flavored shoes from Dansko over the past year or so. A remarkable thing to contemplate when you consider that I'm a confirmed lover of wood soled footwear and so many of their designs are manufactured on manmade bases. Even more remarkable if you recall that my enabler of choice, Melissa, liberated many of her own collection of Danskos many months ago.
But even though I have come to smile with favor on this employee owned company located in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, their shoes have not smiled on me. Or at least not welcomed my feet with open arms and equally roomy vamps. Here are the seven Dansko styles I've purchased over the last year or so, all of them size 42. Sad to say some of them fit like a charm, and some of them have grown accustomed to gathering dust on the display shelf.
Dansko Rae clog—It basically fits my foot though my small toes feel pinched if I'm on my feet a lot.
Dansko Riki clog pump—This one is just too tight. I should have returned it, but I was in the mood to see if my shoe stretchers would make a difference.
Dansko Nevin Mary Jane clog—This one also proved to be too tight. But it would look adorable with jeans if I could make it work. If there's anything that you should know about me it's that I constantly live in hope.
Dansko Rhianna clog bootie—File this one under Go Figure. It's the same sole as the Riki clog pump above, but it's a comfortable fit. An all day shoe to be sure.
Dansko Nat lace up clog bootie—This pair looks great with skinny jeans. It's built on the same base as the Nevin above, but it's roomier enough that I can wear 'em to work and not regret it. Still, they are just that side of comfortably snug even with my shoe lift trick in place. If they were truly comfortable, I bet I'd be wearing this pair all the time.
Dansko Rylan clog boot—Another style built on the same sole as the Riki above, but like the Rhianna, it's quite comfortable to wear for the long haul. Oddly, I don't wear them that often, I think because if I'm in the mood to wear a tall boot, I end up choosing something that'll reach up to my knee.
Dansko Pixie plastic clog—Yes, plastic. Sometimes it can be fun to go against tradition.
Obviously, your mileage with this brand may vary. I present this information in the hopes that it might guide you in your own purchases down the road.
One happy Flogg customer
Veteran shoe designer Carol de Leon launched her unique take on clogs in the spring of 2013. Her remarkable vision was to combine the sturdiness and sizzle of a wooden sole with the cushy comfort of a EVA foam rubber insole. The designs were picked up right off the bat by retailers such as Nordstrom and Shopbop, and the brand was deemed successfully launched. Here in the Every Clog Has Its Day universe, I know that Floggs have been welcomed into at least three households. Melissa snapped up a high-heeled bootie pair early on. A regular reader from North Dakota also picked up the Melanie sandal, "a flat type wooden sole sandal similar to the classic Dr. Scholls." The verdict? "The foam feels great and I'd say it increases stability and the ability to "grab" the shoe. Meanwhile, one of this blog's most avid footwear fanatics braved the Australian fall weather to pose and send this photo.
Oh, if only this inventive designer would expand her range of sizes.
Featured designer: Scandic Footwear
It's one thing to discover a new shoe style that you love. It's a whole 'nother level of excitement to learn that a new shoe maker has opened his doors to do business. Morten Andreasen contacted me in the middle of May to introduce himself and his handcrafted line of traditional (and not so traditional) Scandinavian clogs, Scandic Footwear. I followed the links he sent and browsed through the company's website, and I'm delighted to report that this manufacturer is offering an assortment of wood-soled shoes that are worthy of our consideration and, more importantly, of our purchase. So naturally I had to type up a few interview questions and point them toward Morten's Inbox. He was kind enough to answer my inquiries at length and even sent along some photos of his very appealing handiwork. Long time followers of this blog will know that I'm a pushover for clog boots. But seeing the richly textured leather featured on the Scandic Footwear styles, I was more than smitten. I was reaching for my mouse to investigate how to place an order!
ECHID: How did Scandic Footwear come to be?
MORTEN: I was born and raised in Denmark into a family of Engineers and Craftsmen. Since a young age, I have had a flair for engineering and in 1984, I started working for a Danish Electronic company. In 1987 I got an opportunity to move to the US to manage their support operations for North America. A few weeks later, I found myself in New York City with my suitcase in my hand and $100 in my pocket. Later on I moved on and became the Global Product Manager for a large American Electronic company. Everything worked out great, except starting in the mid to late nineties, I noticed how each year, more and more Manufacturing and Engineering jobs were being outsourced to low wage countries, with little or no regard for the effect on American workers and their families. Lo and behold, at the height of the last financial crisis, I found myself without a job and a family to support. I knew this time around was different and I needed to reevaluate my life and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. After much pondering, I decided to start my own business. I knew electronics was out of the question, because of the extremely high cost of entry. For me it was always about the creative process, and at this stage in my life, my work needed to first and foremost speak to my heart. I wanted to create a business where I could share my thrill of the creative process and at the same time provide meaningful living wage jobs for young and old alike in our local community.
Since my childhood days in Denmark, I have always loved clogs and one day it dawned on me; I am going to start a business making Authentic Handcrafted Scandinavian Wood Bottom Clogs right here in my home state of New Hampshire. My great grandparents owned and operated a Danish furniture factory making exceptional handcrafted furniture, so the desire and ability to work with natural materials and create something from scratch has always come natural to me.
ECHID: How did you come to learn the craft of clogmaking?
MORTEN: LOL….I taught myself how to make clogs….. My dad was the same way, he was an Electronic Engineer by trade, but had an inherent ability to do anything that involved working with his hands.
ECHID: You taught yourself to make clogs! I'm impressed! What was the most difficult part to master?
MORTEN: One of the more difficult aspects of clog making is how to achieve a perfect toe shape using different types of leather. This part requires a deep understanding of the nature of leather and a keen eye for details
ECHID: And then what was the event that made it clear to you that you could do this and put out a worthwhile product?
MORTEN: Other than completing my first pair of clogs; here were no eureka moments; just a long list of issues and processes to sort out.
ECHID: You have ancestors who were furniture makers! So do I! Swedes who settled in northern Illinois. Did you actually work with wood growing up? Or were you just naturally good at building things and put that skill to use in engineering initially?
MORTEN: More the latter, I have always had a natural ability to work with my hands. Creating things with my hands have always been easy for me; I don’t know how I know how to do these things; perhaps it is in my genes. For some people certain things are easy, while for others those same things are difficult.
ECHID: What sets Scandic Footwear clogs apart from other brands?
MORTEN: Each pair of clogs we craft are created with Love and Passion. Doing our very best each and every time, is what Scandic Footwear is all about.
ECHID: What do you look for in your materials?
MORTEN: We go to great lengths to seek out the best materials available. Our products have to be special; what is the point in doing something halfway…No… we give it everything we have each and every time; both in terms of materials and workmanship. Remember, we have a long and proud tradition in New England of creating exceptional quality footwear and we must do our part to keep that heritage alive and bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
ECHID: Scandic Footwear is available via your website. Are you distributed around the country in other ways, too?
MORTEN: Up until now, we have been primarily focusing on specialty boutiques here in the North East. Our typical wholesale accounts are someone who value and appreciate top quality American made products. Scandic products are also available through major national retailers such as Free People and Urban Outfitters.
We are currently looking to expand our distribution nationwide and overseas; so if someone out there would like to promote the Scandic brand, please give us a call.
ECHID: What are you most proud of about the Scandic Footwear line?
MORTEN: The fact through our products are handcrafted by dedicated craftsmen using all natural materials. No man made materials can come close to competing with the comfort and durability at natural leather and wood.
On the Scandic Footwear website, they mention their shoes are crafted on soles of alder wood, a type of wood chosen for its medicinal and magical properties. When I asked Morten to tell me more, he sent along an exceptionally detailed explanation. Look for that in next weekend's post.
'Til then, walk noisily and wear shoes made of a big stick.