It's been a couple months now since I wandered the shops of Noe Valley and found myself in the Rabat Shoes boutique, and coming face-to-face with one of the most beautiful pairs of shoe craftsmanship I had ever seen in my life.
Before I begin, know that these shoes are much more expensive than I am used to. I mean, compared high-falutin' shoes from established designers
, they are not that
expensive (most of their shoes, even the boots, don't exceed $500), but for ordinary citizens
who toil for their food and generally find it difficult to cough up more than $100 for things you walk around in, these shoes are expensive.
(pronounced "sidewalk") is an independent label in Burbank, CA
. It began with a man who likes to walk, and comes from a line of Armenian shoemakers. Watching the video below, you come to understand that each design, and even each shoe, has a story.
The reason the shoes are so expensive is that a) the quality of the leather is downright seductive and b) each pair is made by hand, by American workers. American labor is expensive. But beyond the quality of the materials and painstaking attention to detail is that undeniable, intangible quality of old-world depth the shoes have. I felt it the instant I saw them, and knew I had something special on my hands.
The shoes in question are called Decade, from Cydwog's Vintage line. They are a unique take on the classic oxford shoe, managing to seem very old and worldly-wise and yet modern at the same time. I think it's the combination of the mottled, rich brown leather and the low-cut profile of the shoe. They were on huge discount at Rabat (about 40% off), but still I hemmed and hawwed for like an hour, trying them on and waking around the store and staring soulfully at my own feet. It was really no use though, because as soon as I put them on I felt they had been made for my feet, because they fit so perfectly. I was utterly taken.
In the end, because it was one of two pairs left in the store, the lady kindly knocked off an additional $30 or so, and that did me in. I bought them, but at about $180 including tax they are still the most expensive pair of shoes I've bought to date.
It took me a while to think of a good way to wear them, and I experimented with a couple other new things I bought recently: a little chambray dress I got for $20 from Therapy
and plaid Look from London
tights (quickly becoming my favorite pair!). And a very old plain black cardigan I bought from Express
back in high school, which I also love to pieces.