Here and there for the past few days, I have been rolling out an encore of “Joe Famolare and the Platform Shoe,” which is a summary of a workshop that was conducted several years ago. As I was surfing around, I came across a pair of Famolare skates with the iconic bicycle label. I did not know about the existence of skates before. I have not seen them in any older ads, nor do I remember them.
These are not for men, but for a ladies size 8, so ladies, you might want to snap these up right away. I don’t know when I will ever see another pair like them. They are available on Etsy from the VinnyandVernelle’s. CLICK HERE to grab them before they are gone!1970s, famolare shoes | Comments (4)
Joe Famolare and the Platform Shoe – Part III in a Series
Part III Joe “Gets There”
Despite many naysayers who thought he was crazy, when Joe saw the “writing on the wall” at Marx and Newman, he didn’t cultivate his long list of business connections from all over the world. His business ethic and the personal commitment he made to the company just wouldn’t permit his conscience to.
He totally started from scratch with his new company. He had to start over with being the new guy and pitching his ideas to investors to get nickel one. But in the end, he charmed them with his ideas and his sense of showmanship.
An early product was a molded clog, for which he won a Coty award in 1973.
Even though the clog was a sensation in the fashion world from a design perspective, what really showcased Joe’s abilities as a self promoter was the “Get There”
The Get There took the world of platform shoes by storm.
The secret behind the shoes, while many platform shoes of the day left one teetering, the Famolare platform shoe was well balanced and practical.
The patented, 4 wave sole promotes posture and balance. Instead of having a main area of balance underneath the ball of the foot and then one under the heel, with a hollow at the arch, creating the “figure 8″ style foot print, the foot print is a series of waves that helps one “roll” and flow when they walk as opposed to the other two mobility situations with platform shoes.
The next ad appeared in magazines and newspapers everywhere as the “birth” of the Get There…featuring an implication that the Get There was carved out of marble like a masterpiece sculpture…
Not only did he use the traditional means of print advertising to promote his product, such as shown below, but he even choreographed the “Get There” dance, and ran a contest for an aspiring song writer to perform the “Get There” song on a 45 rpm record, and the record was released and it became the theme song for them.
Joe envisioned it as a yearly contest to find aspiring talent and spread the word about comfortable platform shoes that you could actually walk in! This didn’t turn into a yearly contest, but it was something that burned the Get There in everyone’s memory. They could read about it, dance about it and listen to it!
The shoes not only hold a patent but are on display in the Smithsonian museum, and is also featured at the Costume, Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. So next time you are in the neighborhood…pay the exhibit a visit.
To Be Continued…1970s, famolare shoes, fashion history | Comments (3)
Joe Famolare and the Platform ShoePart II.
The Capezio and Bandolino Years
Capezio was founded in 1887 by Salvatore Capezio and still exists today as a tristed source and household name for dance shoes, later on fashion shoes, and now competitive ice skates. During Joe’s tenure he designed shoes for the Bolshoi Ballet and many others. Other highlights were designing shoes for the legendary Twyla Tharp’s Dance company.
His designs and selections also most notably appeared in the original Broadway Production of West Side story. The “Dance Oxford” created by Joe especially for West Side Story is still in use on the stage to this very day.
In my opinion, heading for the theater not only gave him an understanding of what was required in active shoes but gave him a lot of inspiration on how to be savvy, unconventional marketer and promoter of his product. One instance later found him skating on a float in a Thanksgiving Day parade to promote his shoes!
He left Capezio in 1965 over irreconcilable differences. Capezio was heading more and more into putting fashion before function, and wanting to break into the fashion market more while eliminating some comfort features in shoes, and Joe wanted to concentrate a little more on function.
His next stop along the way, was in 1965, as an executive for Marx and Newman. He was in charge of their popular division, Bandolino shoes that were sold at Neiman Marcus and elsewhere . He not only was executive vice president but designed while he was there. I am not sure exactly which models he designed, but they all were at least selected by Joe even if he didn’t design every single model during his tenure there. The company started to take a turn when Mr. Newman left the business, and as the company got more political, Joe decided that it was time to leave.
In 1969, Joe formed Famolare shoes…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tomorrow: Part Three…Joe “Gets There”.
On August 16, 2005, “Joe Famolare and the History of Famolare Shoes” was presented in workshop format as a part of The Vintage Fashion Guild’s “Fashionable Summer” designer workshop series on week #7 . The presenter was the author of this blog. The following article is a synopsis of presented information. Text (c) VintageGent, and The Vintage Fashion Guild. and the additional photos are copyright their respective sources (advertisements, press photos) or contributors (shoe photos). Use without permission prohibited, but may be obtained under certain circumstances and permitted in writing.
Joe Famolare and the History of Famolare ShoesPart I: The Beginning.
Joe Famolare grew up in a third generation shoe making family. He was born in Boston and grew up in Chestnut Hill, which is a neighborhood/area on Boston’s south side. His father, Joe Sr. owned Famolare Shoe Engineering, which was opened in 1934. The company made cutting patterns for the shoe industry. Joe Jr started working at the family business at the tender age of 12. Very cognizant of the child labor laws, Joe Sr. required him to pay income tax and file at that age. When he became the age of majority, he had already designed shoes and was a young executive at the family business.
Despite this early sucess he deviated from the family business and started singing in nightclubs for tips! According to Joe himself: ” I hated the shoe business. It was so dusty and boring, and the people didn’t seem happy. I could sing, and I studied voice seriously, and I found that people liked to hear me sing. So I went to Emerson to be an actor.”
For the next several years, he attended Emerson college in Boston and pursued a degree in the musical theater. Midway through, his dreams were put on hold. He was drafted by the US Army. Joe served at the very tail end of the Korean war as a radio operator, broadcasting having been a minor in college studies.
After he left the millitary, at age 23, he soon decided that a singing career was not for him. Despite his disenchantment with the shoe business, he learned that long, highly irregular hours of a musical career and the irregular and meager pay brought forth by relying on tips was not for him.
Joe Sr. demanded that he could not just wander around “finding himself, that Joe Jr. needed to get a job. So, Joe was again hurdled into the shoe business and took night courses to finish a degree.
His decided deviation from his roots was short lived indeed. He melded his two interests leaving the family business being hired at Capezio, reknowned in the dance shoe business… in 1960.
Tune in for Part II…1960s, 1970s, famolare shoes | Comment (1)