As Seen In — 1940 Perugia shoe?

Cotton braid gimp summer shoe with composite sole, French, c. 1940

Cotton braid gimp summer shoe with composite sole, French, c. 1940

This shoe has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It is one of a pair I bought off eBay 10 years or more ago for cheap – I  think they were $30.00. What intrigued me at the time is that they were most likely made during the war because of the lack of leather used in their construction. The upper is cotton gimp braid, the sock liners are cardboard, and the soles are some unusual composite that resembles oiled cork with coloured flecks. There is a slight stickiness to the sole material and it reeks of an oily chemically smell — it’s probably something  carcinogenic…

Advertisement for similar high-top summer shoe by Perugia, dated 1940

Advertisement for similar high-top summer shoe by Perugia, dated 1940.

I knew they looked familiar and although I have known of Perugia’s shoes for years I didn’t make the connection until today. My shoe is not labelled and is not identical in style to the 1940 Perugia shoe, but I think the connection is undeniable and it must be inspired by the Perugia design.

Perugia shoe from the collection of Melissa Leventon

Perugia shoe from the collection of Melissa Leventon

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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