Fluevog: 50 Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls
By Rose Marie Bresolin
My first experience with the John Fluevog brand was after dropping into the Fluevog store in Toronto’s Distillery District some years ago. Friends had come down to the city to visit me in my new home, and to shop. We were all taken back at the uniqueness of the shoes our eyes took in! Thus, on visits by family from the United States since, I have felt it as the place to take them to for shoes. My feelings have been supported by the big smile on a photo from a niece in Michigan, modelling the trademark blue shoes that her mother bought from Fluevogs while here. So naturally, when the opportunity arose for an interview with John Fluevog himself, I jumped at it.
Rose Marie Bresolin: John, your shoes are so very different and have been from the start. What gave you the courage to shift as far away from the more conventional footwear?
John: I never thought of them as being so non-conventional. I only wanted to make a product that felt and looked good to me; footwear that expressed how I saw the world and what I’d like others to feel.
Rose Marie: What constituted your initial market?
John: My market has changed over the years. I have never been one thing and never had one customer. Don’t forget I have been through disco, the boring early 80’s, punk, grunge club, and each era has its own feeling.
Rose Marie: I know from my research that when you started up In Vancouver, you had a partner. You were already experiencing success when you two parted ways, so, tell us, did you have even a moment’s thought to closing up shop and taking life easy?
John: I never thought of taking it easy because there has never been a time when I think I have “made it” and can relax.
Rose Marie: What inspired you to reduce the footprint by your shoes on the environment, and to make the shift towards earth friendlier and sustainable materials in their manufacture?
John: That to me is not inspired; it’s just plain good sense. We all need to do what we can in our everyday lives. Not to do so is wrong.
Rose Marie: Powerful words for stirring conscience. John, I’m also impressed that your shoes are manufactured in small numbers, even with the growing number of stores being supplied around the world. That would explain the attention to their detail. And, I’m thinking it may also be to protect the time required to attend closely to the finer detail that’s involved?
John: Yes, precisely. All our shoes are made in small factories where we know the owners and the families that own and run the factories. Our factories are like our partners. We are all working for the same goals.
Rose Marie: Can you talk a little more about how you view the relationship with the people who manufacture the shoes, the shop keepers as well.
John: We are all part of a mosaic. I can not do what I do alone. I need a team of people. The staff and the factories and the customers are all part that mosaic.
Rose Marie: Has your family been involved in any part of the production or promotion?
John: My middle son is the CEO of the company. The other two have worked for the company from time to time, and needless to say, are part of a growing family.
Rose Marie: What were some of your funniest moments?
John: I hope everything is funny! I try not to take it all too seriously or I would cry!
Rose Marie: There’s a Jimmy Buffet line if I ever heard one. Haha! And, the most challenging?
John: Getting shoes out of the factories the way I want them.
Rose Marie: About your book, when did the thought of taking on yet this new adventure first begin?
John: I began to think about the book when I realized that fifty years were fast approaching. It’s a long time to be in the fashion business.
Rose Marie: What has the response since launching your book been like for you?
John: The response has passed my expectations… not that I had many expectations, but the presales and the press have been very encouraging.
Rose Marie: I take my little granddaughters to your Toronto store on occasion and we’ve been lucky enough to come away with the large newsprint catalogue. They love to copy and to redesign some of your shoes. That’s to tell you something more about your reach. What words of wisdom then, for the creative young among us, on the brink of a decision as to whether to risk pursuing their dream now, or to wait until they’re more financially secure and see if it’s still there?
John: Get on it. Don’t delay, do both. Or do one. Just start.
Rose Marie: John, at the end of your website, you’re quoted, ‘Thank you for wearing my shoes.’ On behalf of everyone who has experienced the creativeness and craftsmanship of your footwear, ‘thank you for your dedication to the artistic rendering behind it.’
Canadian, John Fluevog has been named as one of the world’s most innovative companies in the fashion industry. He employs 200 people worldwide and later this year, Fluevog Shoes will be opening its first ever Australian store in Melbourne, Australia. His philanthropic reach extends to various causes and in support of numerous charity events. To read up on grants to artists, enter the Fluevog Artist Grant into your search engine, or visit www.johnfluevog.com
An homage to wild and whimsical John Fluevog shoes and their free-spirited fans…
Written by the cult shoe designer and featuring lush photography, graphics, and hand-drawn illustrations.
Colorful and quirky, Fluevog shoes have graced the feet of celebrities such as Madonna, Jack White, and Lady Gaga, as well as legions of lifelong fans who consider themselves more a community than mere customers.
Known for cheeky slogans such as “no, you’re weird” and the message engraved on the soles of their iconic Angel shoes: “Resists alkali, water, acid, fatigue and Satan,” the Fluevog brand is a celebration of individualism, creativity, and humour.
These values flow directly from the heart of John Fluevog himself, who says that his mission in business and in life is to help people “walk in spirit.”
To mark his fiftieth year in the shoe business in 2020, John Fluevog has penned a love letter to Fluvogers everywhere in FLUEVOG: 50 Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls. In this full-color, visually rich coffee table book, Fluevog gives fans and fashionistas a behind-the-scenes look into the brand’s evolution and his own creative process. With his unmistakable jovial warmth, Fluevog reveals the ups and downs of the business’s evolution and his own personal triumphs and heartbreaks with disarming candor and intimacy.
Echoing the eclectic style of Fluevog’s whimsical and witty zine-style catalogs over the years, the book features Fluevog’s own design sketches and handwritten messages, blended with stories, graphics, and previously unpublished photographs from the brand’s archives. The book is a fascinating peek inside the colorful mind of the iconoclastic designer, while also paying homage to the wild and beautiful John Fluevog shoes themselves.
Shoe designer, businessman, and now author, John Fluevog has been busy blazing his own trail since 1970. It was only a matter of time before he sat down and put all his stories on paper. Fluevog: 50 Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls by John Fluevog is a dazzling and comprehensive window into John’s rollercoaster journey in fashion and life.
- Free Shipping to all domestic addresses!
- Includes a Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Vintage Shoes Poster
- Flush cut binding
- Custom edge painting
- 166 pages
- Dimensions: 22.9 x 25.4 x 2 cm
- Published by Lifetree Media
Buy it now: CLICK HERE!
*This book features flush cut binding and custom edge painting that requires a little extra TLC to maintain. Please keep away from moisture and do not use as a dog toy, football, frisbee or other throwing object.