Friday, June 11, 2010

Cordwainer History

Paul's father, Edward Mathews, was traveling in a horse and buggy through the southwest back is the 1920s selling bibles. As Paul used to tell me, he was "dressed to the nines" in his twenties-era garb and pointed shoes. His feet were aching after a long day selling "the word" so he stopped off at a well along the way and stuck his feet--shoes and all--into the cool water for some relief. "Eureka," he said (or somthing like that) when an idea popped into his head about correcting the misconceptions of "properly fitting footwear." Remember, this was the flapper era when high heels and very pointed shoes were the norm.
Edward packed his family up and headed to Yellow Springs, Ohio and commenced his research at Antioch College. What came of that research was the original Antioch Shoe, which eventually sold around the world. There were other designs that Edward came up with that became very popular, one being a desert boot called the Dundeer. Paul would tell me that Edward was the ultimate salesman and somehow he found his way to Hollywood on a fundraising junket. Paul never knew how he managed to meet the famous folks that wore some of the first Cordwainer Shoes, but famous they were. Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Mary Pickford, Caesar Romero, and Shirley Temple, to name just a few!
In our shop we have a wonderful photograph of Edward with Sonja Henie's trainer and one of the original pairs of skating boots that Paul made and Sonja wore in some of her movies. So, there you have the early history of the Cordwainer Shop--a great heritage and story of Edward Mathews and his sons Paul & Lincoln, with a creative idea who believed they could make a difference, and did. Sara and I are the lucky recipients to inherit the Cordwainer Shop, a 90-plus-year-old company that is still going strong, designing new and re-inventing vintage Cordwainer Shoes with a bit of help from the fourth generation of Mathews--grandchildren that Edward and Paul would be very proud of...The shoe must go on!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

25th Santa Monica Craft Show

Sara, Audrey and I arrived yesterday for a few days of relaxation before our 25th year of participating in the Contemporary Craft Market Show that starts this Friday and runs through Sunday, 10-6 daily. We've been extremely busy at the shop making customer shoes and also designing some exciting new samples pictured here. Our favorite new store that features our shoes, Pip-Squeak Chapeau in Brooklyn-inspired a new design called Pippa-and it's already generating some great compliments. Shown in pale blue,

but like all Cordwainer Shoes, available in all our colors...

The golden colored oxford, was originally designed by Sara's grandfather, Edward Mathews back in the 1930's. Everyone who sees it thinks it great..and so do we, so a new line is recreated in some fun new colors. The black sandal is another new inspiration that Pip-Squeak will have on display. A fun summer sandal with 2' grosgrain ribbon wrapping around the ankle and tied in a large bow..very cute...we've named this one Sabrina, and offer it in a variety of colors with interchangable ribbon choices.