How Shoes Became Objects of Desire
OBSESSED: How Shoes Became Objects of Desire will guide you through the story of how we have become a society obsessed with shoes. This exhibition features highly coveted shoes in our collection that represents how industrialization drove shoe consumption transforming footwear designers into celebrities and shoes into high value collectibles.
Before industrialization, an experienced shoemaker in the West made roughly two pairs of shoes or one pair of boots per day. In the 19th century, new techniques and innovations sped up production and significantly boosted output. As an increasing range of footwear became available, overall consumption grew, paving the way for shoes to become objects of obsession. Early 19th century “straights,” for example, did not differentiate between “lefts” or “rights.” Because straights required only one last per shoe size, making them cheaper and faster to produce.
MORE REASONS TO BUY
As industrialization progressed, new inventions, new materials, and new ideas enticed consumers with an expanding range of things to buy. One of the most exciting innovations of the 19th century was the creation of synthetic colours, especially aniline dyes made using coal tar extract. These brilliant purple shoes reflect the craze for that colour that emerged after 18-year-old chemist William Henry Perkins accidentally made synthetic purple while trying to find a new treatment for malaria.
A SHOE FOR EVERY HOUR
By the turn of the 20th century, fashionable or ‘well-heeled’ men and women required many different footwear styles. For those who could afford the luxury of travel, a Louis Vuitton shoe trunk was one way of traveling in style. This trunk features discreet compartments for thirty pairs of shoes.
By the mid-20th century, shoes had become “the exclamation point at the end of every fashion statement,” as fashion director Laurie Schechter famously said and novelty found expression in shoe design. These Car Shoes were designed by Beth Levine, one of the most innovative shoe designers of the 20th century. Her wit found expression in almost everything she created.
By the late 20th and into the 21st century, mass-produced shoes and multinational brands had become central to expressions of both individual and group identities. The fashion for cowboy boots in the early 1980s reflected a problematic nostalgia for the past. This pair of boots is by Santa Diego Boots.
BACK IN THE GAME
The intertwining of music, basketball, and sneakers began in New York in the 1970s and one of the most important sneakers was the Puma Suede. These 50th-anniversary Suedes were a collaboration with DJ, author, filmmaker, and member of the famous breaking and hip-hop group, the Rock Steady Crew, Bobbito Garcia.
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The Bata Shoe Museum is located at 327 Bloor Street West, at the southwest corner of Bloor Street West and St. George.
From the St. George subway station (on both the Bloor-Danforth and the Yonge-University lines), exit onto St. George Street. Turn left (walk south) for about 30 seconds and you’ll be at the northeast corner of Bloor Street West and St. George Street. From there, cross the road twice to reach the southwest corner of the intersection, and you’re at the Museum!
From Highway 401
Take the Avenue Road exit and go south to Bloor Street. Turn right onto Bloor Street and continue west to St. George Street. OR take the Bathurst Street exit and go south to Bloor Street. Turn left onto Bloor Street and continue east to St. George Street.
From the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)
Get onto the Gardiner Expressway and exit at Spadina Avenue. Proceed north on Spadina to Bloor Street. Then turn right onto Bloor Street and go east on Bloor to St. George Street.
Street parking and paid parking lots within walking distance of the Museum may be available. Possibilities include:
The Toronto Parking Authority’s Carpark 58, the Bloor-Bedford Garage: 9 Bedford Road, north of Bloor Street West and two blocks east of the Museum.
The Toronto Parking Authority’s Carpark 205: 465 Huron Street, north of Bloor Street West and one block west of the Museum
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Counting down to the opening of our newest exhibition, The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment. Do you have your tickets yet?