Getting there

Getting there

Friday, May 20, 2011

International Fluevog Day

I suppose this is a holiday not many people are familiar with. It was just recently, on Sunday May 15th, in fact. What is a Fluevog you ask, dear friends? A Fluevog is a shoe, of course, but not just any shoe.

Designer John Fluevog started out selling shoes in Vancouver, not designing them. It was serendipity when a warehouse full of turn-of-the-century unused shoes came up for sale, and John (and then partner Peter Fox) purchased the whole lot. They opened their own store, and quickly turned into shoe designers as well as sellers. Peter Fox went off eventually to design wedding shoes, but John remained in Vancouver, designing and "flogging" his shoes.

I first heard about Fluevog in the late 80's. I would meet people wearing great shoes and say "where did you find those?!?", and the answer was always the same - Fluevog, in Vancouver. After awhile I just stopped asking because I knew if I saw a great shoe it likely originated with John (and the styles were pretty recognizable, too). At the time I couldn't afford Fluevogs, so I admired them but didn't own a single pair, much to my sorrow.

For many years of my adult life I forgot about Fluevogs (and, well, about fashion, really - struggling to survive and having children does this to you). In recent years, though, I remembered John, his great shoes, and realized something wonderful - I could afford Fluevogs now. Initially I paused - perhaps his shoes were too young for me, now in my forties? Perhaps I should stick to shoes less interesting and less unusual? I quickly put those thoughts aside when I visited the  Fluevog website. I didn't have any choice. I didn't just want these shoes - I needed these shoes.

Opportunity knocked as I had a trip to Vancouver planned, and I carefully plotted out the route from my hotel to the Fluevog store on Granville. The second morning of my visit I trotted off down Granville in hot pursuit of those shoes-that-must-be-owned, and into my very first Fluevog store.

It was all very kid-in-a-candy-store, with so many delicious options - but I knew what I had come for. On the site I had seen these:

I had looked at this photo for weeks, and had to try them. I had also seen another shoe that I lusted after, but on the site it appeared my size was gone. As these shoes tend to be produced in limited numbers I feared that I'd never own them, but what harm was there in asking? So, I asked about these, and they miraculously had my size!

In a state of excitement I tried on both pairs. The fit? Incredible. The quality? Amazing. The way they made me feel? Indescribable. It might have been decades since I'd learned about Fluevog but it was quite entirely worth the wait to own these. I bought them both. That's right, both. I couldn't leave the store with only one pair, so both came home with me.

Later that day a friend took me to Gastown and told me that he had to show me this store with amazing architecture. It had been an open space between two buildings, and they had glassed in the entire area to create this beautiful atrium. He had no idea what kind of store it was as he had never looked, but he was sure I'd love the building. As he led me to the doors I stopped in wonder. I looked at him and said "Don't you realize that this is the Fluevog store and design studio?". I picked my chin up off the ground, and we went in and admired the building. After we left my friend said "Maybe the next time you come to Vancouver we can visit the store again and you can help me pick out some shoes?". My friend, who had been in the store many times to look at the building (engineers do this sort of thing) had finally noticed the shoes, and it seems he too had been struck with Fluevog Fever.

When I arrived back in my home city I went to Facebook and found the John Fluevog page. I quickly "liked" it and began to see notices about the upcoming International Fluevog Day. Okay, I admit it, I'd never heard of it, either, but it sounded awfully good. Free shipping. Contests. 15% off in store. Every 41st web order free! I was in! (as I may have mentioned before I am an "all or nothing" kind of girl, and I was certainly all about this day)

I posted on their page a few times that day. I posted my wishes for a Happy International Fluevog Day. I posted about how I wore my Fluevogs to the grocery store that day to honour John. I "liked" the status updates that showed someone had won shoes. And okay, confession time - I ordered a pair of shoes. I had recently found an amazing black and red jacket, and these shoes will look awesome with it this fall:

Ordering these shoes will be news to my husband, so...sorry, honey, I had to! It was Fluevog Day! My husband actually came up to me that day and said "You know it's just a made-up holiday, right?" and I replied that it was on the calendar, which made it official (okay, so I wrote it on the calendar, but still!).

Anyhow, Fluevog Day was great. I actually got into some brief discussions with other Fluevog fans, I got a new pair of Vogs (should arrive here soon!), and I indulged myself in one of my loves. I also felt vindicated, I guess. I spent all those years when I was young wanting these shoes and  wishing to be part of the Fluevog world (and trust me, the Fluevog fans are a loyal and die-hard bunch). I was finally there, owning the shoes, and participating in the cult of Fluevog. Every time I wear my Fluevogs I get tons of compliments, of course. They are shoes that get noticed, especially in my little northern Alberta city. I often get asked where I found them. How do I reply? I say "Fluevog, in Vancouver" - just as people answered me so many years ago. And so the Fluevog Fever spreads, little by little.

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