Shoe Shopping Spree, Florence


Who invented the unwritten rule that you must wear the same shoes (i.e., a matching pair of shoes, assuming you have two feet, of course)? It was probably created by the same person who said women (at least, in those days the only gender to use them) must wear matching pairs of earrings. While the latter rule has seriously fallen to the wayside…folks wear earrings on just one ear, multiple and unbalanced earrings, mismatched earrings, earrings in noses and tongues instead…the concept of matched shoes has prevailed. I understand the need to have the same height of heel or perhaps even a more conservative view that the materials should be the same (say canvas sneakers, patent leather, etc.) but there seems, to me, no good reason why you can’t wear two different colored shoes at the same time. Wearing two different colored belts, on the other hand, seems somewhat silly since one usually only has one waist. I often encourage my daughter to think “out of the box” and to challenge convention and the extent of that challenge included buying her several stud earrings of the same design but with different stones…blue, green, red, clear, etc. that she occasionally mixes and matches as she sees fit, or outfit, for that matter.

So that was a longish introduction to the Florence shopping post. Florence had some utterly spectacular shopping. Whenever I go on a big foreign holiday, the one goody that I typically bring back for myself is a pair of driving shoes. For the most part, I look around and find the pair that really strikes my fancy and if it fits, I buy it, and price is an afterthought. It is an extravagant habit, I know, but I only get one pair every year or two. And they last for years so I have a closetful of favorite driving shoes. I decided Florence would be the source of this year’s goody. First stop was the flagship Salvatore Ferragamo store in a historical riverside palazzo with thousands of square meters of showrooms. Wonderful store, very nice driving shoes, average range of prices were about USD300-400! So I crossed the street to Bottega Veneta, that venerable leather house from outside Venice that had one or two pairs of driving shoes at USD400-550+! So far, nothing said “buy me” so I walked down Via Tornabuoni and stopped off at Tod’s, that Italian shop with an American name that brought driving shoes to the absolute zenith of popularity many years back. They had several nice pairs but at the USD350-450 range as well. Yipes, what happened to supposedly reasonable leather prices in Florence??? For the first time in eons, I hesitated and decided not to buy anything at all.

But the day before we left Florence, we passed by a shop with driving shoes in the window with a sign that they were just Euro 35 or about USD45. We entered the shop and immediately realized the Shoe shoe2Gods were looking out for Marketman & Family bigtime…dozens and dozens of styles of casual and driving shoes for men and women and all at about the USD40 range. I tried on some driving shoes and they fit very, very well. Except for the snazzy brand or tatak missing, these were the real McCoy! Made in Italy in a family-owned factory, the hides were supple and comfortable. I could not believe our luck! And since I had resisted the temptation to buy the branded pair, well, let’s just say I temporarily lost it and bought 6 pairs of the same driving shoe in different colors!!! Please don’t send me nasty comments about folks starving in some third world country or Tondo, castigating me to be more self-controlled…after all, the entire bill, less VAT refund, was less than one shoe at Bottega Veneta! Let’s just say that by the time Mrs. Marketman and the Kid were done, plus the pasalubongs we bought, we ended up with more pairs of shoes than Imelda might have purchased on a whim walking down some Florentine alleyway… The storekeeper said he could close shop for the day…heehee. Which brings me to back to the discussion on unmatched shoes. Because I have six pairs of exactly the same driving shoe but in different colors, I can actually comfortably wear many more two-color combinations and one day I tried out the black and brown suede combination up top. It worked very well, thank you. But since I had to take pitstops at a couple of McDonald’s enroute to our final destination that day…you can just imagine the amount of whispering and finger pointing (actually LIP-pointing, perfected by pinoys only) going on behind my back as I walked by… perhaps if I make this a Marketman trademark it will be even easier to spot me in your neighborhood market!


25 Responses

  1. Wow, those look nice and comfy. . . good for everyday. . . if I were shopping, I would do the same thing, buy it in all colors. . .hehe

  2. they’re be-yoo-ti-ful! my brothers and i have a thing for driving shoes, they are in general so comfortable to walk in!

    my mom and her sister will be going to Florence soon; would you mind sharing the name and location of the shop?

  3. Traci, I knew someone would ask and I had trouble finding my receipts…but I think the store is called Otisopse and it is on Via Porta Rosa 13, very near the main tourist attractions. On the same road are nice bag and belt shops as well. Storefront isn’t more than 3 meters wide. If your mother and aunt buy anywhere near the number of pairs we got, the salesman will think Filipinos definitely have a shoe thing going on… I think they also have another branch in Florence and one in Naples as well…

  4. In the 80s, there was actually a trend of wearing different colors of the same style sneaker at the same time. Typically, they’d be those high-top Converse-type sneakers, but also Reeboks. They were also often worn with mismatched socks or — there is nothing as 80s — leg warmers.

    I’ve worn mismatched earrings for decades, but never tried mismatched shoes because I almost never buy different colors of the same style. Maybe I will, one of these days…

  5. well not to worry MM, i would guess that pinoys are pretty famous for shoe buying sprees (esp kung may sale!) wherever they happen to to travel to. i have a friend in san francisco who has been working in Arthur Behren’s Union Square for many years, and since salesmen earn on commission, he was easily the top earner every month (that is, until the asian crisis hit us badly in the late 90s) since all his customers were manila-based pinoys! His kano counterparts would just shake their heads in disbelief.

    So really, it’s not just Imelda as it turns out– though she is certainly the most globally famous shoe fetishist these days (notice how, to this day, her name pops up in magazines, tv shows, celeb interviews the world over whenever there is a footwear discussion?).

  6. As much as I enjoyed all the food entries it takes shoes for me to finally come out of the lurking and leave a message. I read your post and I am delighted I must admit as I so relate with your market bag, the colors of the food and the taste my imagination travels to.

    I also love driving shoes and I can relate to having the Imelda in me as it relates to shoes. I like the desings in the Philippines and I get comments whenever I wear them here in Los Angeles. The only drawback is longevity due to inferior materials I suppose. It is sad because with the right materials there is a market for Pinoy shoes.

    $40 a pair is such a bargain and I would do the same thing.A color to match how i feel that day sounds logical to me.

    More power to your site and HAPPY EATING !

  7. tod’s, specifically diego del valle, only designs and markets the shoes. as far as i know they farm out the manufacturing process to another factory. ferragamo has a factory, though i believe they share that with zegna. bottega venetta, i’m not really sure. there are a lot of other good brands there, mm, though they are not well-known in manila. borelli, sutor mantellasi, kiton, a. testoni, romano martegani, fratelli peluso, borgioli…. all very well-made. happy shopping in the future.

  8. oh, and apparently, wearing non-paired shoes is gaining popularity in italy? is this true?

  9. aboy, you are right, most of the large brands use large factories, even Hermes in Paris that wants to make yout think everything is handcrafted in their workshops upstairs farms out leather goods to Italian factories. There was a lot of good stuff in Florence…just beyond the budget… And no, I didn’t notice the penchant for unmatched shoes in Italy… have I discovered a trend before it was a trend? Heehee. Wait till my outrageous expadrilles or alparagatas finally get in if LBC ever delivers our box…

  10. actually, hermes farms out their stuff to bottier john lobb, paris which they own.

    wear yours in good health! :)

  11. Some bags of Hermes made in Italy, ditto with belts. Plus in the past all their paper bags made in Italy as well… Shoes are likely with Lobb… but in general, I still like Hermes products which are superb…

  12. oh, okay. i thought you were pertaining to shoes only. agree with you with hermes. hope i can afford them someday. hehehe. lets talk shoes in the future. :)

  13. thanks so much for sharing, MM! i hope my mother will agree to at least 3 pairs per sibling, he he

    like ging i have been a lurker for ages and as much as i enjoy your blog and like to try most of your recommendations, food and i sometimes have “issues”, whereas shoes and i get along just fine!

  14. LOLOL. i must say i’ve never met a man who had such a love for shoes — on or offline! this is why i love your blog, you never ever limit yourself to just food. you hedonist you.:D — although at those prices, i don’t blame you one bit for indulging! what a buy!

  15. The shoes look very comfortable. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for those two-color combinations whenever I visit Salcedo Market; just in case you decide to make it one of your trademarks. Teehee!

  16. MM,
    I do think we Filipinos do have a shoe thing going on! I find myself going into shoe stores when I have no need for them at all. My sisters and I were at an Orlando Outlet Mall day after Thanksgiving…when the salespeople at the shoe store learned we were Filipinos, they treated us like VIPs and forgot the other customers. Are they thinking, “IMELDA,” you think?

    OF course, none of us walked out of that store out empty-handed…

  17. food and fashion what a combination. That’s why i enjoy reading your blog immensely!

  18. MM, i hope you can feature the shoes Mrs. Marketman and the Kid bought, would love to see them! :)

  19. MM- Just catching up on your posts, and the shoes caught my attention. Are you familiar with crocs? check out their website at These are the most bizarre looking shoes, but I own a pair of red beach shoes and I love them.

  20. And all along I thought that only women buy several pairs of similarly-styled shoes in various colors.. The Shoe Gods were indeed watching over you.. :)



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