If there was a shoe that any ’90s kid had to have, it was very likely a pair of Doc Martens. Sporting a pair of cherry or oxblood Docs, with their telltale yellow stitching, ensured your were dressed to impress, especially in combination with some form of graffiti- or paint-splattered outfit that could be seen from a mile away.
As we know, in fashion eventually everything comes full circle.
Gravitypope, the Whyte Avenue destination for hip footwear, is turning 25 this year, and, you guessed it, they are all about those shoes. To celebrate the silver anniversary, store founder Louise Dirks collaborated with 25 designers around the world — including Trippen, Fly London, John Fluevog and MOMA — to create a limited line of shoes that will please even the most discernible shoppers.
In 1989, Dirks started out with a small import shop that sold Doc Martens, and soon found the demand from hip grunge-sters for the shoes was so voracious that she was able to open an anchor shop a year later. In true ’90s fashion, the theme of the collection is black and white. This colour combination is making a comeback on modern runways, and featuring it in products that have stood the test of time — capturing the designer and Dirks’ viewpoint on modern fashion — was the focus of the collaboration, says Dirks.
Dirks travels to Italy, France and New York frequently to supply her stores with top brands, and last year, during buying appointments with her favourite suppliers, she discussed with them the opportunity to create something special for the milestone event. The collaboration did not yield completely new products, rather the designers took an existing shoe and tweaked it to reflect the theme for the occasion.
Have shoes really changed in 25 years?
Shoes don’t change, she says. Styling changes, and trends and brands come in and out of fashion to re-energize an existing product. The black-and-white theme reflects that nature. Two popular footwear fashion trends in the early ’90s were platform shoes and sneakers; both trends are highly popular today and are featured in the collection.
Dirks played a role in the design of each shoe, and loves them all. But if pressed to pick a favourite in the anniversary collection, she admits to being particularly drawn to the Trippen models.
Gravity Pope now has locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, and the shops have expanded to carry clothing and accessories as well as footwear.
By Lloyd Wipf