A question to those of you were there: I know we are supposed to look back at certain items we wore in our youth and laugh—oh, how silly we were! What fun!—and for the most part I can. I can view photos at myself in my Candie’s mules circa 1978, for instance, and think it is positively a scream that I had no idea I was wearing hooker shoes. But I can not do this with Earth Shoes, and I am wondering: can you? Can anyone? Anywhere? My brain positively bends upon considering their fug. And we all wore them—even the popular girls at my high school in Houston, which was like the capital of priss. I recall studying ads like this one quite seriously in the months before my mom bought me a pair, and being fascinated by the Euro-hippie science behind the “negative heel,” which was supposed to approximate walking in the sand, which would in turn improve your posture. (And a lot of good that would do, when you were wearing the shlumpy-ass shoes of the universe.)
Earth Shoes stopped being sold in the US at around the end of the 1970s, but you can now buy versions from an updated line. Every once in a while, a trend writer will do a story about how Earth Shoes are coming back, but that’s just because sometimes there are very serious trend shortages, and editors are forced to improvise. This Etsy seller is promoting these as the pair that Lindsay Weir wears on Freaks and Geeks, and they’re probably the best of the old-school bunch, because they could just almost pass as Wallabees.
On the other end of the spectrum, I feel the world is not only ready, but entirely overdue, for a Famolare comeback of some sort. Remember that comfy, happy, wavy sole? Those Richard Avedon ads with Joe Famolare holding his famous sandals up to his face? That crazy-catchy Famolare jingle (which 30 years later is seared in my brain)? I found this picture of shoe designer Ruthie Davis and hope she doesn’t mind me posting it, because she looks so awesome in her blue Famolares. (I had that exact pair, by the way, except mine were rust. I feel like every pair of shoes I owned for the entire decade of the 70s was rust.)
The Famolare orthopedic magic lays in its “synchronized 4-Wave Sole,”—each one of those cute little waves performs a separate and equally important function with each step you take, adding support and comfort. I’m not certain any magic wave juju could make this rainbow bright super-platform all that comfy, but I’m trying not to care. And I’m trying not to care that they’re used either, because used shoes usually skeeve me out, and I totally want these.
Joe Famolare retired to Vermont some time ago, and brought the company with him. Most of the stuff they’ve got now doesn’t quite hit me, but sometimes—particularly when I’m feeling especially, stupidly, nostalgic, I like to think this happy red pair would do in a pinch.
*Part 1 Was the Dr Scholl’s post on Monday. But I did not know it at the time.
Tags: Earth Shoes, Famolare, Freaks and Geeks, Wallabees