When I was a teenager (sometime between the fall of the Roman Empire and the launch of the Sony MiniDisc) my first weekend job was working at a shoe shop. It wasn't a designer store but it was considered the most stylish of the high street chains.
I spent three years working the floor and serving thousands of pairs of shoes to male, female, delicate, deformed and downright unbearable feet. But despite the pitfalls I really enjoyed it. There was something about the design of shoes that fascinated me and more so the women's shoes because, let's face it, women are always the target for fashion designers. Men always had the same styles season after season: the derby, the brogue, the oxford. All available in black, brown, tan, and sometimes... navy (tres controversial, even in the 80s).
As life went on and I left the shoe store for more high profile jobs (I'm assuming working at a DIY store wearing bright green dungarees is considered high profile right?) I still retained my love / hate relationship with men's shoes. I really wanted to wear classic, elegant shoes but with a hint of a contemporary twist. Surely that wasn't asking too much, but despite scouring the pages of GQ and Esquire each month they just didn't seem to exist. The closest I got to shoe nirvana was a pair of black Paul Smiths with red and yellow stitching that I picked up in London seven years ago. They were the only pair I brought to Australia with me and I'm still wearing them because:
a) Australian shoes suck. Sorry land Down Under, you're beautiful and I'm proud to be a citizen, but you have a better chance of bringing the Tasmanian Tiger back from extinction than designing decent men's shoes
b) There hasn't been anything else that really demanded my attention
I won't profess to being an expert on Mark McNairy. All I know is that his name was suddenly appearing all over the Flipboard style blogs I follow along with photos of AWESOME SHOES! My wait was over. Here was a designer who made gorgeous, classic men's shoes but added a twist through his trademark coloured soles.
Look at them! They're cool, fun, classic and eccentric all rolled into one! Just like me! And now lots of other designers and labels have latched onto the coloured sole concept and are providing their own variations. One of my favourites is the Cole Haan LunarGrand which combines a traditional brogue upper with a high tech Nike sole.
Men of the world rejoice and start negotiating with your partner for space in the wardrobe, cos it's time to go nuts and fill your, er, boots!
So why am I telling you all this? What's the point of revealing my metrosexual shoe fetish? Well it's therapy. Retail therapy when I buy them (I now have two pairs of McNairys and counting!) and constructive therapy to talk about the paradox I find myself in: the more casual my lifestyle becomes the smarter I want to dress! I work from home right by the beach and yet I want to buy expensive shoes and bespoke suits! What's with that?
I do, however, have one outlet for my style and that's when I photograph weddings. I'm not saying that I want to own the show (duh, that's a job for the chick in ivory / champagne / Vera Wang black!) but I feel like I'm a more dapper class of photographer, and the more I feel I'm being myself the more creative my juices shall be!
They say you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. I'm hoping mine will tell my clients a lot about their photographer!
You can see more gorgeous shoes and products that represent my style on my Look Book pinboard on Pinterest!