Vintage Shoes?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Van Dal Shoes has launched a “vintage collection”

This is the latest thing for shops with a bit of history behind them with Marks & Spencer, Clarks and even Boots also having done something similar.

I was quite excited. Van Dal are a Norwich based business who’ve been making shoes since 1936, so a trawl through their archives could throw up some lovely vintage style shoes for those of us with feet far beyond dainty vintage sizes.

Unfortunately I can’t help but be a bit disappointed. I don’t know if I’m being unfair on them as many people seem to like them, but looking at these designs next to the sketches from the original 1957 catalogue they are taken from makes me a bit sad. They seem to have taken all the distinguishing vintage features, like the distinctive heel shape, and changed them for modern design leaving shoes that to me are just a little bit blah.

Corsica £90

Where is the vintage heel and the low sides that make this such a stylish 50s shoe in the original sketch? Why replace it with that bland wood effect that is just on all cheap shoes everywhere, and then charge £90?

Profile £95

I am bemused as to how such an elegant looking peep toe became such a bland style. Why replace that pretty heel with a frumpy low wedge?

Bangle £85

Probably one of my favourite out of the styles, but little changes, like the angle of the heel, make it look cheap. I certainly wouldn’t want to pay £85.

Plato £85

Another elegant 1950s stilletto shoe, transformed into frumpy, cheap looking footwear.

It’s not that they’re awful shoes in their own right. It’s just they’re nothing special and one would hope a trawl through 75 years worth of archives might have inspired something a bit differnt?

Maybe they’re nicer up close? They’re available to buy from Mid March, so I’ll try and wander down to the Norwich store and see if they have in. You can visit Van Dal Vintage to see the whole range and find out more

What do you think?

21 Responses
  • Fiona Culshaw
    March 8, 2011

    Honestly I think they’re awful and just cashing in on the ‘vintage’ word as there is nothing even remotely vintage styled about them, my opinion I hasten to add!!

    I think it is an opportunity wasted

  • Helen
    March 8, 2011

    They’re soooo bland and average! But as I said to you yesterday, same thing happened with the M&S dresses. They didn’t work because they took dresses designed to be under the knee and shortened them. They didn’t hang properly and just looked rubbish.

    I did like Boots bringing out their vintage range though and was quite upset when I realised I couldn’t get the nice face tonic and cleanser anymore. Curses!

    • Retro Chick
      March 8, 2011

      Yes! I did the same thing, the vintage range they bought out was lovely, then they discontinued it 🙁

  • LandGirl1980
    March 8, 2011

    Oh! Such a dissapointment! They could be on to a winner as well. The same as most of the “dresses” that are out there in the highstreet at the moment. Lovely prints and styling – but all come way above the knee. Eugh.

  • Lady K Loves
    March 8, 2011

    If they had just copied the original styles, but perhaps done a combination of authentic and more modern fabrics they would have been fantastic and sold really well. They look like safe old lady shoes, rather than racy originals…..
    But then if it’s for their older customer perhaps that’s what they’d like….

  • Sarah
    March 8, 2011

    I agree with everyone else. A totally dull, borning, safe range of old lady shoes with nothing remotely “vintage” about them. I can’t see any old ladies being too excited about this range either as it looks exactly the same as the styles they’d usally buy anyway

  • Penny Dreadful Vintage
    March 8, 2011

    Horrible. They have defiled the very word ‘vintage’ with this dowdy collection.

  • Lauren
    March 8, 2011

    Ugh. What a shame. Of all of them only the Plato is any good, and certainly not worth the £85 they’re asking. Very sad.

  • Charlotte
    March 8, 2011

    What a shame those glamorous sketches haven’t been translated into something a little more faithful – just as you say, the defining *vintage* features have all but been removed. They all look like something you can get in M&S (not that I’m dissing M&S – I’m a big fan – but despite their efforts they do still stray into the frumpy), for under £40.

    And that wood effect heel – why?! I’ve just spent the day looking at cheap shoes with wood effect heels here in Thailand (but at least they actually ARE cheap – £12 rather than £90! For that price I can cope with it).

    I think Plato probably wins for me (a low heel is at least practical), but it’s still lost much of the class of the original sketch. Sad.

  • Vix
    March 8, 2011

    Yuk! They are awful, aren’t they? Mind you Van-dal were never cutting edge, just expensively made shoes for discerning middle-aged ladies. My Grandma was very fond of them for being one of the few makes that went up to a whopping size 8, which used to be very hard to find twenty years ago. xxxx

  • katie antoniou
    March 8, 2011

    Ew.Yucks indeed.Such a shame cos there totally IS a gap in the market for NICE replica vintage shoes, just no-one seems to get it right!

  • Missy Vintage
    March 8, 2011

    I like the bangle and the plato best however, I would rather spend half the money (or less) and have a true vintage pair. I really love seeing vintage Van Dal. I think its a Norwich thing for me. I had an aunt who worked in the Norwich shoe factories and I feel like I’m buying a piece of local history too, as I do with any vintage ‘made in England’ piece.

    I think it will a popular range though as some people simply will not wear vintage shoes. Absolutely, each to there own but I have no problem with it at all. I’d happily have a whole shoe collection made up of vintage. I’m not a purist when it comes to vintage at all but I find vintage shoes – even from the 80’s are better quality, better made and the comfiest pair of heels I own are a pair of Bally’s that cost me £1!

  • Perdita
    March 8, 2011

    Not so much ‘what granny wore in the 50s’ and ‘what granny wears now to the bingo’. In fact I think many grannies would opt for something ‘snazzier’. Did their designers look up ‘vintage’ in a thesaurus and come up with ‘old’ or ‘aged’?

    Such a shame. My nicest vintage-style shoes come from (shame shame) Asda a couple of years ago! And Matalan! Tsk Tsk…

  • Steph (@mrs_sock)
    March 8, 2011

    I too agree, what a waste of an opportunity! Those heels on the originals are so perfect and they’ve butchered them! As also mentioned, the dresses on the high street are also so short they hang horribly. Just saw a fab dress at phase eight though, might get it for this little bumps christening in the summer!

  • Laura Connell
    March 8, 2011

    There is nothing vintage about these. All modern fashion is inspired by something from the past that doesn’t make it vintage! You’re right; a missed opportunity here.

  • Fanny Pinkleton
    March 9, 2011

    It’ a disappointing collection. I don’t like the way they have toned it down.

  • Lottie
    March 9, 2011

    I can’t see myself being attracted to buy any of these. I actually quite like the original designs and would have been quite excited to see them on shelves somewhere but as you say they have ruined them. The wedges are particularly awful. Just another company cashing in on the current trend for vintage.

  • Gemma
    March 9, 2011

    UGLY. That’s all I have to say about those things. What these shoe folk don’t seem to get is that it’s all about the HEEL! Vintage shoes have the most amazing heels, which make the arch of the shoe utterly gorgeous, but they replace them with kitten, conical or squared off rubbish! Sort it out shoe companies, make a nice pair of shoes with a good 30s or 40s shaped heel… you’ll be raking it in!

    G x

  • Redressing
    March 9, 2011

    Interesting article Retro Cick- I think most of the other comments sum it up- it’s a cash in on the vintage inspired trends of the season- and fair play to Van Dal, but not at those prices! I think you’re probably better in New Look right now for some vintage inspired footwear! (Or the charity/thrift and Op shops for an actual anthentic vintage alternative!)

  • Style Eyes
    March 9, 2011

    I am not really fussed about any of them. They are all a bit non descript. I don’t think I will be buying them.

  • Andi B. Goode
    March 10, 2011

    I don’t think they’re ugly, I just think they’re boring. At least if they were ugly they’d get a reaction out of me. All I can say to these is ‘meh’.
    -Andi x