Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Collection: Willi Smith High-Heeled Pumps

As my current collection continues to build in two plastic storage bins in the trunk of my car, I'll take in-depth looks at the shoes I accumulate.  These size 9M pumps by Willi Smith (I'm assuming the fading black lettering in the heel area of the shoes indicates the name of the style is Eclipse) definitely aren't the most trashed and abused I've come across, but they do a good job of illustrating the kind of footwear that holds my interest.

First, they're very feminine.  The heels aren't ridiculously high but they're thin, which I appreciate infinitely more than heels that are thick and chunky.  There are cute little cloth bows above the toe boxes that serve as simple ornamentation, and the uppers are a nice combination of black leather with black patent leather around the toplines.

Inside, there isn't much wear to speak of.  While the seller advertised these to the fetish crowd, the truth is that with just a little work, these shoes could be used on a daily basis, especially in an office environment that might be a little rough on pumps, like one where frequent trips to the warehouse are necessary throughout the day.  Still, there are enough visible signs of wear for them to appeal to me, and it's clearly from regular use over the course of time.  These are old shoes and their appearance is what you'd expect of old shoes.

The quarters and seat betray the age of the pumps and are more dirty than worn down.  I've never heard of the brand Willi Smith.  They were advertised on eBay as "Will Smith" shoes, which I knew didn't sound right... not that Willi Smith sounds any more right, I guess.

Some of the threading that holds the patent leather strips to the leather uppers around the toplines is starting to fray.  The fact that the thread is white against black patent leather makes everything look worse from afar than it actually is, and with some careful work with scissors the shoes could be made to look just a bit more presentable.

The worst wear is on the inner sides of the uppers along the toplines where the patent leather is cracking at the points where the shoes flex.  Even then, it's just the patent leather that's affixed to the leather uppers displaying the wear and not complete tears affecting the integrity of the shoes, as is common on old pumps that have survived years of frequent use.

If I were to guess (and I will), these were office shoes that weren't protected from some of the rougher parts of the work day.  The back of the right shoe has moderate scuffing, likely from where it came in contact with a floor mat in a car.  The wearer of these shoes didn't put them in her purse as she slipped into sneakers to get to and from work.  They were likely on her feet from the time she left the house until the time she got home.  I admire women that do that.

There's not much to see when they're turned upside down.  Aside from the maroon material having been worn away in the typical spots and exposing black rubber beneath it, the outsoles are still nice and thick.  Continuing with the assumption that these were offices shoes, they probably accumulated most of their miles indoors on carpeted floors, with treks to and from the car being the most abusive parts of their days.

Despite the overall decent condition of the pumps, the top pieces are showing serious signs of wear.  The one on the right shoe is just about worn down to the nail.  Perhaps the owner of these pumps decided that it was time for them to be retired as opposed to having the top pieces replaced with new ones?  I can imagine that being the point where a lot of women decide to retire their heels.

While it usually appears that the right shoe in a pair takes on a bit more trashing and abuse (maybe because a lot of people are right-handed? or the right foot is the one that operates the accelerator and brake in the car?), this particular pair has a left shoe that's more worn than the other.  The cracks in the patent leather accents around the topline can be best appreciated when the pump is in the flexed position.

The only sign of serious wear anywhere inside either shoe is on the lining where the pinky toe rubbed against it in the left one.  A hole in the soft leather lining is starting to appear, exposing a very small part of the inside of the leather upper.  It's almost impossible to feel from the outside, so the toe wasn't at risk of tearing through.

Even though the left shoe is the more worn of the two, the heel area is in much better condition than that of the right one, giving further support to my theory that these weren't taken off for the daily drive to the office.  A little work with a black Sharpie could make this scuffing just about disappear in a few seconds.

The left shoe's top piece is in much worse condition, with the nail almost completely exposed.  Still, there is enough plastic still surrounding it to prevent it from making a harsh noise on hard surfaces, and maybe even damage to wood floors.  The wearer must have known exactly when to stop wearing these, as it seems a few more days of use would have exposed enough of the nail to make them troublesome.

The most fascinating thing about these pumps is the way the top pieces are worn down at a severe angle, indicating the wearer walked on the outside edges of her feet.  I've seen it plenty of times and it never fails to get my attention.  I'm amazed by how a lot of heels don't break off as a result of this.  Simple physics dictates that the weight of the body travels straight down to the ground through the center of the heel, yet with the heel at an angle no longer perpendicular to the ground, it's no longer transmitting those forces as designed.  In theory, shouldn't the heel break sideways, slipping out from underneath the shoe as the foot of the wearer slides the other way?

My favorite way to view pumps with top pieces worn in such a way- from behind, admiring them as they lean slightly to the sides.  And there you have it, the first of many shoes that I'll be featuring over the life of this blog.  Your thoughts?  I'm always interested to hear them.

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