You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Footwear

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Footwear occupies a unique space in the world of  fashion. Along with handbags, it is often the most covetable category of accessories for women and men. We are often treated to inside views of celebrities’ closets, all of which feature hundreds if not thousands of pairs of shoes lined up neatly in rows. Many designers have made their mark by specializing solely in footwear and are household names (Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, etc.). On a more prosaic note, footwear plays an important role in connecting us to the ground we walk on, shaping how we move over that ground and hold our bodies while doing so. For this reason, it is often treated with a special reverence one cannot imagine using for, say, a shirt. The four articles below examine this special relationship with footwear, from its historical iterations to the more contemporary decisions that go into purchasing it. We hope you enjoy! 

1. Davis, A., Murphy, A., & Haines, T. P. (2013). “Good for older ladies, not for me”: How elderly women choose their shoesJournal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 103(6), 465-470. 

Footwear selection is important among older adults. Little is known about factors that influence footwear selection among older women. If older women are to wear better footwear that reduces their risk of falls and foot abnormalities, then a better understanding of the factors underlying footwear choice is needed. This study aims to identify factors that drive footwear selection and use among older community-dwelling women with no history of falls. A cross-sectional survey using a structured, open-ended questionnaire was conducted by telephone interview. The participants were 24 women, 60 to 80 years old, with no history of falls or requirement for gait aids. The responses to open-ended questions were coded and quantified under a qualitative description paradigm. The main themes identified about footwear selection were aesthetics and comfort. Aesthetics was by far the main factor influencing footwear choice. Wearing safe footwear was not identified as a consideration when purchasing footwear. This study indicates that older women are driven primarily by aesthetics and comfort in their footwear selection. These footwear drivers have implications for health-care providers when delivering fall and foot health education. — Paraphrased Article Abstract

2. Guengerich, S. V. (2013). Unfitting shoes: Footwear fashions and social mobility in colonial PeruJournal of Spanish Cultural Studies, doi 10.1080/14636204.2013.868243. 

Feminine footwear fashions changed from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century in colonial Peru. Through a variety of textual and visual sources, this essay focuses on footwear fashions and the practices they demanded. It confronts the stereotypical and misogynist vision of colonial women expressed by poets, travelers and Spanish officials with the experiences (if not the voices) of colonial women that emerge from archival records. The study of footwear as a cultural artifact enables us to explore the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific connections that directly or indirectly pushed women to move between worlds, cultural imaginaries and social expectations. — Full Article Abstract

3. Semmelhack, E. (2014). Above the rest: Chopines as trans-Mediterranean fashionJournal of Spanish Cultural Studies, doi 10.1080/14636204.2013.868241. 

The chopine, one of the most extraordinary forms of footwear ever worn in Western dress, was integral to the sartorial splendor of upper-class women’s dress throughout southern Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. However, this early modern fashion did not represent a single monolithic style; different regions produced distinctly different forms of chopines and they were worn in strikingly different ways that were framed by local issues related to gender construction, familial prestige, civic identity and the promotion of the industries that drove local economies. This essay traces the history of the chopine from antiquity to its dissemination across the Iberian Peninsula under Roman rule and then its transformation by the Moors into an unrivaled feature of upper-class women’s dress in both Christian Spain and Italy. A detailed comparison between the late sixteenth-century luxury tapins of Valencia and the exceptionally high calcagnetti of Venice illuminates the regional difference in the ways in which chopines were made, how they were worn and how they came to be a paramount accessory of women’s dress in Spain and Italy. The essay also addresses hybridism evidenced in some Italian chopines and chopines as a trans-Mediterranean fashion. — Full Article Abstract

4. Uma, V. R., & Saifil Ali, M. I. (2013). Examining women’s purchase pattern of casual footwear in accordance with their attitudes and interestIndian Journal of Marketing, 43(8).

The present study examines the association between the choices of casual footwear attributes of women in accordance with their behavioral pattern. Data was collected from 2365 women through a questionnaire that comprised of two sections. The first section comprised of 50 AIO statements based on which the respondents were profiled according to their behavioural patterns. The second section comprised of selected footwear and store attributes. The consumers were profiled into eleven clusters using factor analysis. The regression scores were used to assign the respondents to the respective components that were extracted through factor analysis. Reliability Test and KMO Test were conducted to check the reliability and adequacy of the sample size. Further, only those variables that qualified the collinearity test were alone subject to regression analysis. Through ANOVA test, it was observed that significant differences existed among the consumers within the clusters. Therefore, the AIO statements were considered as independent variables that were regressed against ten selected footwear attributes. The Results indicated that consumers with different behaviors had varied preferences towards footwear attributes. The results of the study indicate that the manufacturers in the footwear sector should revisit their existing strategies and target the consumers on the basis of their behavior as the proliferation of the unorganized sector is very high in this sector. There are innumerable literatures that focus on trade policies followed in the footwear market in international countries, treatment of workers in the footwear industry, therapeutic use of footwear, supply chain patterns etc., but hardly any significant study that explores the consumers’ behaviour and their association towards their footwear preferences has been conducted. Behavioral segmentation has been used in many other products like apparels, insurance, real estate etc., but not in the footwear sector. The present study is an attempt to fill this gap. — Paraphrased Article Abstract


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