As we gear up for the Fourth of July weekend, it seems like a good moment to think about shoes made in the ol’ US of A. I recently found this USA Love List of American-made shoes.
“Buy local” is a popular refrain (or, at least, a sticker that shows up on shop windows). If I live in Washington state and order shoes made in New England, it’s a bit of a stretch to call that “local.” But hey, the term’s elastic.
More importantly, after reading Elizabeth L. Cline’s Overdressed and Donovan Hohn’s Moby Duck last summer, I’ve been thinking about how little I know about the manufacturing processes and labor practices and environmental consequences of the goods I buy. I’m trying to break the habit of acquiring stuff just because it’s cheap. (Confession: Have I been to Old Navy in the last week because I miss my brother, who used to work there? Yes. Did I buy a pink polka dot sweater because it didn’t fit me like a garbage bag and was on clearance? Yes. Do I feel bad about it? Not really, especially now that I’ve come clean to you, dear reader).
Buying shoes made in America (‘Merica!) affords us some assurance that we’re supporting fair wages and good working conditions. It’s a step in the right direction (see what I did there?)
One company stuck out to me on the USA Love List is Cydwoq, which bills itself as the “only handcrafted shoe firm in America.” I first heard about this company because a friend bought her fiance a pair of Cydwoq shoes for their wedding.
Cydwoq started production in Burbank, CA, in 1996, though its founder, Rafi Balouzian, is the product of several generations of shoemakers in Europe and the Middle East. There’s a lot to feel good about with this company. According to their web site, they make 90% of the shoe components (not just the vegetable-tanned leather upper) in house. They use biodegradable glues in production, and cotton bags and cardboard boxes for packaging in an effort to “green” the shoe industry.
The Backflip, pictured at the top of this post, is from the Cydwoq Vintage collection. All of the sandals are like mini-works of art, in part because they’re made of hand-painted Italian leather. The Backflip is available in half sizes (huzzah! The fashion blogger with size 10.5 shoes pumps her fist into the air!) from size 5 to 12.
The middle shoe is the Mandarine, from the Classic line. It’s available in black too, though I’m not sure how anyone could turn down this charming hue. The Alter, below, is from the Cydwoq Classic line. I like its smooth, structured curve and those fun cut-outs.
By the end of summer, I’ll be looking at boots, but for now I can only think about sandals. You’ll want to check out their line of handbags and belts, too.
Photo credit: All photos from cydwoq.com