Anya Grottel-Brown is a recent transplant to LA from the East Coast. Her series, The Newcomer Journals, is about all things local that are new, different and same.
I am a full member of the sisterhood of shoe lovers. My closet is filled with boxes of shoes that I couldn’t do without in New York. Since moving to LA nine months ago, I have worn a sad fraction of these. It isn’t that I like my shoes any less; it’s just that I can’t be bothered to put them on. My go-to pairs are the fuchsia flip-flops I bought two years ago in Hawaii and never dared to wear on a New York street and the black lace Tom’s that are really just slippers in disguise.
To try and understand why I have been neglecting my shoe collection, I stopped by the Village Footwear in Larchmont and chatted with Wendy, who’s worked at the store for over 12 years.
“It’s a ‘beach day’ mindset,” Wendy said immediately. “The beach is 15 minutes away. Or at least it used to be in the fifties before the traffic, but everyone still somehow believes it’s just around the corner.” But we’re in the middle of a city, right? Walking on pavement? “It’s the sun and the palm trees,” Wendy said. “It seduces you into thinking that pavement is sand. On the East Coast, you pound the pavement. Here, you saunter along it.”
Still, women here do buy shoes and lots of them. Village Footwear carries the full spectrum, from Hawaiian-made flip-flops to high-end shoes by the French designer Thierry Rabotin who handcrafts his footwear in Italy. The Rabotin brand is not the only international line that Village Footwear displays; in fact, browsing the shelves is a bit like seeing a shoe parade arranged by the United Nations. There are German-made shoes by Gabor and Paul Green, French-made shoes by Coclico and an Israeli-made line by Naot. Wedges, platforms and low-cut boots are as popular as flip-flops (and FitFlops), with the store’s emphasis clearly on cushion and support. Kork-Ease, for example, have recently made a triumphant comeback, having reinvented the 70’s disco brand. Could it be that walking on cork is a bit like walking on sand?
Armed with this new sand perspective, I cast a critical eye over my shoe collection when I got home. Some, I decided, would meet the saunter-along-the sidewalk criteria and should be taken out for a stroll. Others would just have to wait until I went back to New York to visit family.