Designer Shoes in Italy?

When I arrived in Italy I could not wait to see the all the century old art and sculptures that Florence is so famous for. Sorry, who was I kidding? I wanted to see the shoes! I imagined Italians everywhere wearing Ferrigamo’s, Cavalli’s and Prada. Instead, I found something that disturbed me a little, Converse! They were everywhere, children, mother’s grandfathers, were all wearing Converse.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was five I had an assortment of converse in many colors. My younger sister wears them every day to school. However, I was shocked to see that Italy, the shoe Mecca of the world, has a city full of sneaker wearers. I saw all types of Converse’s, the usual black, red and navy. Then there were ones I had never seen, like tie-died, rainbow and graffiti patterned. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the most beautiful clothing and designer shoes one has ever seen in Italy. I however, became fixated on what style sneakers my Italian amicci where wearing.

I traveled to Milan, Rome, Como and I became obsessed with the shoes. Staring at people’s feet became a hobby on train rides from one Italian city to the next. I matched people’s personality with their Converse as well. The woman who wore the red ones, well she was edgy, feminine and sexy. The guy who wore the red one was however, sporty and perhaps a Red Sox fan?

I even told one girl my age on the train that I liked her “Chucks”. She replied back “HUH”? I told her that in America we sometimes call Converse “Chucks” because they are designed by Chuck Taylor, pointing to the name, between the star on the logo. She giggled and said “ohhh I see, that’s funny”. I had told an Italian something about shoes that she was not aware of and they told me about a trend from America, still going strong in Italian cities everywhere. Although I did not buy Converse in Italy, I did come back and tell everyone how trendy Converse were, along with Levi’s and soccer jerseys.

While shopping for a friend’s birthday in the mall, I saw an ad for Converse in the Gap. I walked in and tried some on, because the proceeds went to AIDS research I bought them. The all-American shoe that I had three pairs of as a child made me miss Italy, and all the shoes.


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January 2008
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