If you haven’t checked out the web’s first virtual shoe museum Shoe Icons lately, then you may want to visit again because the Russian-based collection has recently acquired an incredibly important shoe collection from Izegem, Belgium. Izegem was the seat of the shoe making industry in Belgium. The city had been the centre of linen production during the Renaissance, but as that industry faded during the late 19th century, shoe manufacturing sprung up in its place. Shoe manufacturing was at its peak between the 1890s and 1950s when there were upwards of 80 companies working in Izegem.
Most of the shoes in this collection were samples, made for exhibition to demonstrate the best work of the company Eperon D’Or (Golden Spur). Founded in 1863 by Emiel Vandommele, by 1870 the company was employing 80 workers and was producing 15,000 pairs of shoes per year. In 1910 a new factory was built and in 1930 an even larger, more modern, factory was built in the Art Deco style. The company could not compete with Italian imports and was in decline during the 1950s and 1960s, closing in 1967.
Highlights from the Eperon D’Or collection were featured in a 2012 Russian calendar, which I was lucky enough to be given by the curator, Nazim Mustafaev. Shoe Icons is in the process of being updated with more examples from this extraordinary shoe collection from Belgium. I am so happy Shoe Icons acquired this collection and is generously sharing it with the world through their virtual museum. It has been a delight to see Shoe Icons grow over the last decade into the world class collection of important footwear it now maintains.