Istanbul cobbler
some cobbler in Istanbul side street

Recently during my travels around interesting and not so interesting parts of Europe, I found myself standing in front of this little gem of a shop. Tucked away in one of the gazillions of little side streets in the old parts of Istanbul, there I was being mesmerized by all sorts of sensations hurtling my way…first of all, the VISUALS! What a treat! Defying most golden rules currently applied to contemporary graphic design, pictures of giant high heels greeted me in no uncertain terms: Come in! Join us! Buy us and return to the 80ies! Throw in the lovely brown platforms, and the retro journey can well and truly begin….although maybe not immediately…I do consider myself a rather experienced and adventurous traveler, but by no means  would I dare to attempt to leave the shop with those shoes on my feet…way to embarrassing (if at all possible) to scramble up and down those hilly streets…even in my own rather dull (so flat! So uncreative! So very much NOT my style, really…sigh) Sketcher Shape-ups, I had my moments of keeping my cool….watched by millions of idle Turks, not a mean feat.

And then there was the SOUND….a very familiar and happy sound for me, still being in love with making shoes…the sound of a shoe hammer hammering away…or, more likely, VARIOUS shoe hammers hammering away…lovely. I managed to find a little flight of stairs opposite the shop, settled down and simply listened…allowing the memories to float in…and out…while answering about 395 unwanted questions coming from eager helpful Turks of the male gender…who miraculously appeared from all sorts of openings in walls and from stairs…even my slightly repellent Germanic demeanor couldn’t stem the onslaught, so after some final glimpse (Inside! Quick! So no one can force you to enter and answer another 564 additional questions…) I took myself off…finding the praised hammam “just around the corner” – well, some corner! – I wanted to be soaked and washed in when starting my day…but his is another story…

Bremen Marktplatz Marlene und Viola August 2011
My delightful friend Viola sporting boots, myself in my Kangaroo shoes in Bremen/ Germany August 2011

Before my trip to Europe, I had some AGONIZING moments over the RIGHT choice of shoes….aaargghhh, the horror! In my case, being a shoe designer, there is the element of showcasing/ wearing your own product…but having lived for way too long in rainy and cold Germany and knowing the dire circumstances, there is also the element of WATER to be considered…short of traveling in gum boots (the sensitive choice, every season, really!!) I needed a pair of well constructed, preferably water-resistant shoes NOT LOOKING LIKE  GUM BOOTS AT ALL! Well, I am happy to report that the shoes I chose to take with me worked out brilliantly – made out of  RED pearlized Kangaroo leather, they accompanied me to dismal rainy German rural places, dismal rainy German urban places, and the odd less dismal place where it did not rain…as well as crossing borders into Spain (where they met some goats on a hill in Mallorca) and Turkey (here, they faced the tricky task of negotiating millions of spice stalls and other glittery and overwhelming shops in various markets in and around Istanbul).

Feeling visually equipped to face the European journey, I am also happy to report that the design of those shoes regarding COMFORT exceeded my own expectations…which is a pretty good thing to be able to say! Mind you, August 2011 found me running around all over the place, so I had about 4 weeks of full-on road testing….and prior to that, wearing them around balmy Darwin (or should I say sweaty? Sound a bit less desirable, doesn’t it!?)  I already had a pretty good comfort indicator…so folks, THEY DO THE JOB and look so much BETTER THAN GUM BOOTS! Indeed!

red kangaroo shoes made in Darwin by Marlene Kranz
Those shoes are made for walking...and promenading!

Here they are – a slight 2 cm platform on the front which gives them extra bounce and comfort – and a tear shaped heel tapering in towards the front, which gives it some height without being high heels! Total heel height is 6,5cm – but with the added platform, the actual height you are dealing with is only about 4 cm – a very comfortable and safe way to make sure you are seen in the crowds! I made them in black, as well (of course!) and now they are ready to get into sample production with a small manufacturer – starting next week when I will gather my passport, the odd outfit, my new KINDLE (how exciting! I got myself a red cover so I won’t get annoyed with the awful digital greyness of it….) and those shoes (amongst others out of my range)…leaving for Indonesia….and back to my craftsmen for more carved heels and the like…all in the name of creating the ultimate individual, unusual,  comfortable and timeless shoe for all of us addicted to shoes…watch this space!

Black shoes made by Marlene Kranz
Black version - with asymmetrical red and silver embellishments - 2011

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