Shoes in animated movies

I like writing, but I’m bad at promoting stuff after it gets published. So I’m going to do some quick promo of my latest publication. My most recent publication is in an anthology about the question of race in the USA. My story is about a Chicana (Mexican-American female) living in San Francisco. My story covers Mexican themes like food, the 15th birthday party and the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). You can read more about Dia de los Muertos in this post. The book was released last year around Dia de los Muertos. You can buy the book (available in print and e-book) here.

This month’s blog post is about shoes in animation, and there is a connection to the Mexican Day of the Dead. Late last year, a Mexican friend told me that I must go watch the Disney animation Coco. I vaguely knew that Coco was about the Day of the Dead, but when I watched it, I love that it was about a family of shoemakers. That came as a pleasant surprise and it was not something I knew about prior to watching the movie. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is one where the family is making shoes.

This scene below seems very Mexican to me, where the grandmother assaults a Mariachi singer with a sandal. The sandal, also called la chancla in Spanish, is sometimes used as an assault weapon or to discipline children.


In my opinion, the Japanese are the best at making animated movies. There’s even a genre called anime that is specifically related to Japanese animation. ‘Garden of Words’ (Kotonoha no Niwa) is one of my favourite animated movies with shoes in it. It is a love story that starts in the rain. One rainy day in Tokyo, a student decides to skip school to draw in a garden. He is a shoemaker, and in the garden he meets an older woman. He ends up making shoes for her. I think it’s a beautiful love story; you can see the trailer here.


One final animated movie involving shoes is the Disney classic Cinderella, from 1950. I think every English speaker will be familiar with the Cinderella story and the animated movie. Here is the ending to that movie.


Valentine’s Day and shoes

I’ve been writing this blog for over 6 years and I have never done a Valentine’s Day themed blog post. Since it’s February, I thought that for the first time, I would write a Valentine’s Day post.

Valentine’s Day is named for one or more obscure saints named Valentine. There is also a legend of a priest named Valentine who was imprisoned for helping Christian couples get married. Whatever the history, it seems that Valentine’s Day first became associated with romantic love or courtly love in the 14th century when the writer Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about birds finding their mate on Valentine’s Day. This was in Chaucer’s poem ‘Parlement of Foules’ in 1382.

These days, Valentine’s Day is so commercialized. It seems to be all about selling flowers, chocolates, cards and soft toys. Can this day really be associated with footwear? I am going to say ‘Yes’ and show you some examples. You can also read about falling in love with shoes here

Flowers for Valentine’s Day? Yes! This is one of my favourite pairs of shoes from Camper TWINS range, featuring daisies. This is now a very vintage style, and these shoes were made in Spain. I have to admit I fell in love at first sight with this pair of shoes and I bought them without a second thought. It is also the most expensive pair of shoes that I have ever bought.

Shih Yen fell in love at first sight with this pair of Camper shoes from their TWS range.

Cupids at Valentine’s Day? Yes! In classical mythology, Cupid is the God of desire and Love. He is the son of Venus the goddess of Love, and Mars the God of War. In Greek mythology, Cupid is called Eros. During the classical Greek period, Eros was depicted as a youth with wings, but later Cupid was depicted as a small and chubby boy with wings. Cupid is portrayed with wings and a bow and arrow. Anyone who is shot with Cupid’s arrow will fall in love. This pair of shoes featuring Cupid is also one of my favourite shoes. It is by a Venezuelan label Hot Chocolate Design, from their Chocolaticas range.

Shih Yen’s pair of Chocolaticas shoes in the style ‘Cupid’.

Soft toys on Valentine’s Day? Yes! These are limited edition sneakers made by Adidas, featuring plush teddy bears on them. They were released in 2010 and in my opinion, they are super cute. The original purpose of the sneakers were for basketball, though to be honest, I don’t know how a person can run with soft toys on their feet! I have actually seen people wearing these sneakers, so it is possible to walk in them.

Adidas JS Bear xJeremy Scott sneakers. Photograph © 2014 U-Dox, from ‘Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide’, published by Thames & Hudson.

Chocolates on Valentine’s Day? Definitely, yes! This is a chocolate bar sandal by Malaysian designer Terry Poe.

Chocolate bar sandal by Malaysian designer Terry Poe.

Ice cream on Valentine’s Day? Yes! I always think sharing an ice cream can be very romantic. These are some ice cream shoes from a Thai label Madame Flamingo. Madame Flamingo is a label started by Thai designer Pantila Promfang. All her shoes are handmade.

Ice cream high heeled shoes from Thai label Madame Flamingo.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone on the 14th of February. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing on the 14th, I hope you have a great day filled with love. shihyenshoes sends lots of love. ❤ ❤ ❤

Door mats and Diadora slippers

Happy new year 2018! Here’s to another year of writing about footwear.

I have come to the realization that I’m a slightly obsessive shopper. I don’t shop often and I’m not a big spender, but when I find something I like I’ll keep buying it until they stop making the product. This explains why I have a cupboard with enough spare curtains for the whole house to last the next 10 years or more. Or why I have written with the same model of pen (Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint in blue) for the last 25 years. Everything important that I have ever written was with a blue Pilot V5 pen – all my exams, all my stories. I even bring my own pen to sign important documents. All these blog posts start first from the nib of a blue Pilot V5 pen.

Two of Shih Yen’s very, very many Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint pens in blue.

I have also worn the same type of Diadora slippers for over 25 years. Apart from a year in the mid-1990s when I wore a pair of purple slippers with orange polka dots and a foam crab with googgly eyes across the strap. I love that pair of slippers. They were super cute, a gift from Thailand from my aunt. But I digress. Diadora is an Italian company that started in 1948. Diadora manufactures athletic footwear and clothing. I first wore Diadora slippers as a child, and I like them so much, I just kept buying them and never stopped!

Two of Shih Yen’s numerous pairs of Diadora slippers.

I now realize that I am slightly obsessed with door mats. I bought 5 door mats in 14 months. I don’t have enough front doors for all these door mats, and I still think of door mats that I wish I had bought, like the one that said ‘Hello’ in speech bubbles in many different languages.

The first door mat that Shih Yen ever bought.

My house is free of many things. It is child-free! Pet-free, smoke-free and also a shoe-free zone. It is the norm in many countries to remove shoes before entering a house, but this is not the norm in New Zealand. I found a door mat with a message directing visitors to remove their shoes. I bought 2 of those door mats.

Shih Yen’s numerous door mats, including one asking visitors to remove their shoes.

A few days ago, I bought another door mat, my 5th. It says ‘I’m not your doormat’. At first I read it literally, but later I realized that there is another meaning for ‘doormat’ (a person who gets walked over), and I thought it was quite clever.

Shih Yen’s latest door mat. It is placed sideways to face the neighbour’s front door.

Happy St Nicholas’ Day!

It is December, which means that Christmas is coming soon. Santa Claus is believed to have come from St Nicholas, a bishop in the fourth century. St Nicholas’ Day is on the 6th of December. There is a European tradition associated with shoes on this day. On the eve of St Nicholas’ Day, children leave their shoes or boots out. St Nicholas will come in a sleigh drawn by a white horse and leave goodies in the shoes of good children. These are treats like oranges, apples, gingerbread, sweets, chocolates and nuts. This is a tradition in European countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. I think it’s a great tradition, though I wonder about the hygiene of putting food inside footwear.

Here’s the perfect sparkly sneaker for the festive season. Merry Christmas to all readers and see you in the new year.

Purple sparkly Deelo canvas sneaker by Deuce (photo by Ely Rodrigues).


The origins of Nike sneakers

Today, this blog turns 6 years old. To be honest, I’m amazed that I’m still writing it. I thought it was something that would last 3 years maybe, but it’s still going.

This month, I thought I would write about the origins of Nike sneakers. In the 1960s, Phil Knight was a middle distance runner at the University of Oregon. His pet event was running one mile. He wanted sneakers with better traction for running. One day, he experimented by putting a piece of rubber in a waffle iron and heated it. This produced a waffle-shaped pattern in the rubber.

After graduation, Phil Knight went on a round-the-world trip in 1962. In Kobe, Japan, he discovered Tiger brand shoes, which were cheap and of good quality. He started selling Tiger shoes in the USA. In 1964, Phil Knight partnered with his former running coach at the University of Oregon to sell the shoes, under the company name of Blue Ribbon Sports. In the early days, Phil sold shoes out of the back of his car at track meets. The first employee of Nike suggested renaming the company Nike. In 1978, Blue Ribbon Sports changed its company name to Nike.

A Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 women’s running shoe, with the distinctive Nike ‘swoosh’ logo.

The brand Nike (pronounced Nigh-kee) is named after Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory. In ancient Greece, Nike is normally portrayed with wings, golden sandals and wreaths. Nike the goddess, flies around battle fields rewarding the winners with a wreath of laurel leaves. Nike the brand, manufactures sneakers with a tread and higher-traction sole for running. The Nike ‘swoosh’ logo is one of the most recognized brand logos around.

My Melody ankle socks

I think it’s unfair how when you have a group of characters, one character always becomes more popular than the others. One example is on children’s television show, Sesame Street. Elmo monster, who made his debut in 1985, has become more popular than the other puppets. Personally, I dislike the Elmo character. I don’t like Elmo’s high pitched voice or the way he talks in the third person, and I can’t understand why he is more popular than other (in my opinion, better) characters. I prefer older Sesame Street characters, like Grover and Bert and Ernie, who have been on the show since the start in 1969.

An autographed photo of Grover, Shih Yen’s favourite Sesame Street character.

It’s the same with Sanrio characters. Sanrio is a Japanese company that manufactures lots of cute things, and Sanrio is the company that brought Hello Kitty to the world. Sanrio also has many other characters, not just Hello Kitty. But the other characters are not as popular as Hello Kitty.

I don’t have any problem with Hello Kitty, and I personally own many Hello Kitty products, including shoes. But I think it’s unfair that Hello Kitty should get all the glory. There are other Sanrio characters, which I think are equally as cute as Hello Kitty, and they seem to have faded into history. Hello Kitty made her debut in 1974 on a coin purse. There are other Sanrio characters from that same time period; and when I was young, I liked those characters more than Hello Kitty. These characters are My Melody, a cute rabbit and Little Twin Stars, twin brother and sister Kiki and Lala, who are stars and live in the sky.

Sanrio characters – My Melody, the rabbit with Little Twin Stars, Kiki and Lala.

A friend who knows that I like My Melody gave me a pair of My Melody ankle socks. I love the socks, but when I first saw them, I thought there is no way these socks are going to fit me. These ankle socks are meant for the Japanese market only, and they are probably meant to fit the average Japanese woman. Unfortunately, my feet are not the size of an average Japanese woman. On me, these ankle socks are more like heel socks! I still love the socks, even if they don’t fit.

Shih Yen’s My Melody ankle socks.

Attempting to wear My Melody ankle socks.

Cute socks and towels

Towel cakes have become a recent trend. This is where small towels are presented as if they are food. So for example, a face towel or a hand towel could be folded and made to look like a slice of cake. If the towels are brown, they could be put into a mug to look like a cup of coffee, or made to look like chocolates or muffins. I think it’s just a way of marketing boring towels to make them more attractive and interesting to customers.

I had only seen this trend in small towels until I saw these cute socks recently. The socks were packaged to look like popsicles and they are super cute. One pair had an ice cream design and the other a watermelon design. This could be called fun things to do with ice cream sticks, as I also had little face towels that had been packaged to look like lollipops.

Lollipop face towels, with a pair of ice cream socks.

Shih Yen’s pair of ice cream ankle socks.

Lollipop face towels with a pair of watermelon popsicle socks.

Shih Yen’s pair of watermelon ankle socks.

When I saw the watermelon design socks, I knew the perfect pair of shoes that would go with those socks. That would be watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design. Hot Chocolate Design is a shoe label from Venezuela, and it is one of my favourite shoe labels. This label was started in 2004 by Pablo Martinez and Carolina Aguerrevere.

Watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design, from their chocolaticas range (in style patilla).

Normally I limit my blog to just footwear and socks, but many things surprise and shock me about Venezuela, so I thought I would write a bit about Venezuela, the country where these shoes are designed.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Yes, Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia! And yet, the country cannot feed its own people. Venezuela is currently in social and economic turmoil, with widespread shortages of basic goods, like lack of food, medicines and toilet paper. Hyperinflation is a major problem, with inflation in triple digits.

Lucky then, I guess, that Hot Chocolate Design shoes are designed in Venezuela, but made in China.