July 06 2010
“They’re soooo comfortable,” women often gush about the couple of strings attached to a strip of leather that pass for this year’s summer sandals. “Yeah, I reckon!” is my involuntary – albeit unspoken – retort. For the kind of summer sandals that women love to wear and which just about pass muster when sauntering around boutiques on Sloane Street will reduce you to tears on more challenging terrain – the kind of terrain commonly encountered on summer holidays.
Last year I discovered the all-time topographical challenge for a pair of summer sandals on a visit to the ancient city of Pompeii. As well as being good-looking, the sandals I’d bought just prior to my departure proved to be footwear’s equivalent of the high-performance 4x4 off-road vehicle.
The sandals in question were Time Gomma N Straps by Zamagni (£85), and I’d bought them at Shoon in London’s Marylebone. Michael and Rosalie Fiennes founded Shoon in 1982 as a wholesale shoe business. From being the first to launch the Ecco brand in the UK, they now have 23 shoe shops under the Shoon name selling a wide range of quality brands. (They have also diversified into casual clothes.) Shoon offers a genuine alternative to the shoes sold by high-street chains, especially those well-made, well-designed shoes that are hard to find elsewhere. Comfort is key, but style is also crucial.
During the six hours I spent walking around the dusty ruins of Pompeii, I must have seen a hundred glum-faced women perched miserably on ledges. Some were massaging their soles or tipping the dust from the insides of colourful but inappropriate espadrilles. Others had given up on their high-fashion but broken flip-flops and were tiptoeing barefoot around the ruins.
If you’re uncomfortable on your feet, it shows in your face and in your mood. So if you are heading to a destination where there are likely to be cobbled or unevenly paved streets that you want to explore for hours, then my advice is to take a sightseeing trip first to Shoon.
First picture shows Pikolinos Formentera Gladiator sandals, £79.95. Second picture: Gabor Heritage, £79.95. Third picture: Gabor Fragrance, £69.95.