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Women Choose Cute and Comfortable Summer Shoes (May 31, 2005)

A shopper checks out a wedge-soled shoe. (Jiji)
The wedge-soled shoes that were popular among Japanese women in the early 1980s are making a comeback in the summer of 2005. Style-conscious women are adding the thick-soled shoes to their wardrobes as an expression of this spring and summer's fashion watchwords, "resort" and "vacation." And it is not only style but comfort, too, that is a big factor in the popularity of wedge-soled shoes. Many wearers report that the large surface area of the shoes' soles lightens the burden on their feet.

Making a Comeback
Wedge-soled shoes that are narrow at the heel and do not have a raised arch at the sole are selling well. The craze was sparked by design houses like Louis Vuitton and Yves St. Laurent, who showed this style of footwear in their spring and summer 2005 collections. The shoes hit the market in late March. Printemps Ginza, a department store in Tokyo that is a magnet for fashion-conscious women, reports that it sometimes sells over 100 pairs of wedge-soled shoes in a single weekend.


The wedge sole was created by Salvatore Ferragamo, founder of the Ferragamo brand, who produced soles made of materials such as cork during World War II. In Japan, wedges first appeared in the 1970s, but only as a brief fad. A full-blown craze erupted in the early 1980s as part of the new-traditional fashion trend. This trend was defined by a single style: a pump-like shoe with a jute-wrapped sole.

The current wedge craze is marked by much greater variety, manifesting itself in an array of designs and sole materials. As one might expect of a summer fashion trend, sandals that enable wearers to show off the bridges of their feet are popular. Soles also come in a range of materials, including clear plastic as well as cork and rattan. Designs vary widely. The sides of the soles may be embroidered with flower patterns or adorned with ribbon, and the shoe may have a narrow heel and a slight arch at the sole, giving it the elegance of a high-heeled shoe. Or the heel may have a slightly exaggerated curve.

From Resorts to the Street
The current wedge craze originated as an expression of this summer's defining fashion themes: resorts and vacations. Jute and cork soles fit in with this casual look. But now that wedge-soled shoes are coming out in so many different materials and styles - including low-heeled wedges just 3 to 4 centimeters high - many women are incorporating them into their working wardrobes as well. Wedge-soled shoes are the ideal complement to this season's leg-baring half-length pants, cropped pants, and billowy skirts.


Wedge-soled shoes are also finding favor for their functionality. In contrast to the pin-heeled mules that have been popular for the past few years, wedges distribute the body's weight over the entire surface area of the sole, reducing the load on the feet. As shoes offering the leg-lengthening effect of high heels without the pain associated with that style, wedges are finding a loyal following not only among young women buying them for the first time but also among 40-something women who wore them back in the 1980s. Among the latter group, the affection for wedge-soled shoes is no doubt tinged with nostalgia.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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