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National Post’s Retail Therapy Pt.1 | Vancouver Sole History

Canadian fashion icon, John Fluevog, begins a week of blogging about his shoe legacy, which marks its 40 years with an exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver. As for his work, he says, “I design things that I like. I don’t like mainstream things. When things get to a point where they’re too well-known or mainstream, I leave it.” (CBC Radio 3 interview)

John Fluevog for National Post’s Retail Therapy

Let’s just say I’ve been busy.

I recently met the ambassador for Portugal and their Secretary of State, did an interview with GlobalTV, then Shaw. Last week, I was on another show along with Peter Fox, my business partner in the ’70s, and Ken Rice, the hippie who started to make shoes with us and has now turned out to be a master shoemaker on his own.

Although, I still think he is a hippie — doesn’t look much like one — but once a hippie always a hippie, I say, and that’s a good thing. He now focuses on custom shoes for normal and problem feet.

It was good to be together after all these years. Especially when I consider that 40 years later we all had good things to say about each other.

Then, in my 1948 Austin, I zoomed over to be on Margaret Gallagher’s jazz program Hot Air on CBC Radio One (it looks like a 1948 Austin but is the guts of a Mazda underneath). I picked up some of my favourite jazz tunes and we chatted about them.  Have to say I was feeling a little nervous about the show. Before I left the house I printed the notes I made and promptly left them on my desk.

Winging it? Oh yes! As it turned out, I got a little more than I bargained for. Margaret asked me the name of the shoes I was wearing. My mind went blank… I fumbled and mumbled. She went to the next song. I realized moments later that they were samples and did not have a name. After the next tune I christened them Medeski, Martin and Wood because that was the artists we were playing. Love those guys. Guess I better ask them if it’s OK if I use their name.

So why is John Fluevog the “shoe guy” getting all this attention? The Museum of Vancouver has a retrospective on until the middle of September called “Fox, Fluevog and Friends.” It’s the history of shoes in Vancouver from 1970 to 2000.

At the time, we may not have understood our cultural significance but, looking back, we really were part of the west coast “groove” as we would have said. I overheard one reporter say, “I can’t believe they sold them!” But sell them we did.

And no one was more surprised than me that we did. Thank you, Vancouver.

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