Patches from M&J trimming, vintage Adidas Campus sneakers (eBay), Coach metallic cross body (eBay). I really want to reproduce these dresses but I don’t know anyone willing to do custom embellishment. Let me know if you have any ideas (NYC based preferably <3) Photos by Daniel Zuchnik.
I love that French Connection still hasn’t given up on the bandage dress. I bought my first one there seven years ago and wore the shit out of it much to the ire of my teachers who couldn’t stand that it didn’t technically break any dresscodes. Now that I’m no longer beholden to dresscodes and the heyday of the bandage dress has come and gone, I recently found myself searching for another one. I love going back to trends that have disappeared a little too recently to be considered cool again or seem nostalgic. If you pull it off, you seem not like you don’t understand trends but like they don’t matter to you. I also have a penchant for tiny shoulder purses (remember your first Dooney and Bourke?!) pudgy sneakers a la Etnies and tube tops of all divinities, (though not necessarily worn together). I want to note that I don’t wear the bandage dress ironically. Making something trite look right is very different from making something “uncool” look ironically cool (R. Kelly shirts, Lisa Frank backpacks, most 80’s prints). It’s also not the same as the art of making something commonly considered unnatractive look cool (Birkenstocks etc). I actually like the bandage dress.. Like as a timeless object.
FCUK ruffley mint bandage dress ($72 ASOS) worn with gingham J. Crew shirt ($3 thrift), cropped yellow Knoles and Carter jacket ($35 eBay) Fiorina cowgirl sneakers ($60 Yoox) and sparkly pink Miabag ($120 Yoox).
Photos by Daniel Zuchnik
My hair is separated into greasy blades, my breath is rank from dehydration, my feet are gnarled from hiking barefoot. As I stop to rest, a mirage of a hand-crafted boot appears out of the woods, shimmering and undulating like a video game coin. I reach toward it but it falls to the ground and morphs into a pile of hundred dollar bills which then bursts into flames . A swarm of fire ants emerges from the smoke and descends upon my shoeless feet. “Nooooooooo!” I warble, grabbing my phone and using the last 1% of battery to google “New York metro area small claims court”. “RING, RI–.” The screen goes dark, sucking with it my dreams for the future and my faith in humanity. I take off my backpack, (mostly full of hot air so this doesn’t provide much relief) and lie down in the middle of the path to die.
^^A slightly dramatic retelling of my sojourn in American shoe manufacturing. Made slightly dramatic only by the fact that I did actually receive a pair of boots in the end (see photos). I have a really hard time reconciling my feelings with this boot because on one foot, I think it’s beautiful but on the other foot, making it was a huge financial loss, extremely emotionally challenging and its also not the shoe I signed a contract for. (That shoe proved too challenging but the manufacturer still refused to refund my deposit so this was what I got).
As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking: “sure, but thats just one experience!Try, try again!” Don’t get me wrong, I would try, try again if I had the funds or if the company I used wasn’t one of few, if not the sole American manufacturer with the machinery and workers to make my boots. The fact that there are so few resources for shoe manufacturing in America means that this manufacturer had never really experienced competition and the need for customer satisfaction was all but eliminated. It wasn’t hard to wangle me into signing a contract and forking over a huge deposit for shoes that were never made (save the pair pictured).
The sad truth is that even with a contract, it’s pretty easy for a manufacturer to swindle a client in the garment, shoe and accessory industry. A corrupt manufacturer can sense which clients have the money or wherewithal to contest bad business practices in court and at virtually no risk to themselves, choose to stall your project indefinitely, or intimidate you into surrendering rights you never even knew were up for negotiation (see Donald Trump + Taj Majal). Yelp is usually the only punitive process for these businesses and in this case, the yelpers were bribed with free shoes for an edited and chipper review. If I had been connected to more people in the NYC fashion scene when I started this journey, I would have heard the truth from about a hundred different mouths: THAT SHOE MAKING IN NYC IS A NIGHTMARE.
It wasn’t a total loss though: I did learn some valuable lessons. More than anything, the experience taught me that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s usually a red flag not a gold star when your manufacturer promises you things that every other manufacturer refused you/told you were impossible. I also learned to steal clear when you encounter a manufacturer who really, really wants you to ‘show him the money’. A good manufacturer is busy; they’re not so desperate for your business that they chase you around pushing the contract (and if they ask for cash or insist on a money order, you should probably GTFO now).
Anyway for now, all we can do is hope the demand for American made shoes continues to grow and companies like the one I used get edged out of the game by better options. As for enacting revenge against my former manufacturer: I’ll enjoy watching them squirm, wondering if I’ll eventually name names or disclose the truly tawdry (and tweaky, hint,hint) details of doing business with them.