N.B. Our friend, the witty and oh-so-smart Nancy Friedman, is back!
“A shoe is more than a shoe,” the designer Maud Frizon once rhapsodized. “It is movement and repose; it is human contact with the earth.”
Oh, those shoe designers. They do get a little carried away. What else could account for the giddy names they often bestow on their creations?
Not all of them, of course. As I explained in my previous post about shoe names, some shoe brands follow logical naming formulas, using the first letter of a shoe’s name to identify its last (the shape on which it’s built) or its season.
And then there are the other names. The crazy, wackaloon names that make a shoe shopper wonder aloud, “What were they smoking?”
Exhibit A: this lovely Spring 2011 style from Aquatalia by Marvin K, available in platinum calf or black patent leather, with a fetching zipper in the back. It’s called—for no earthly reason I can discern—Flubby.
I would have named it anything but Flubby
Dear Mr. Marvin K: Why? Surely you knew that “Flubby” was not a secret internal code but a name visible to every online shopper and many sharp-eyed store shoppers, too. What were you thinking? “Flabby”? “Flubber”? “To botch or bungle”?
This is not, by the way, Aquatalia’s first TNTSW (“They Named That Shoe What?!?”) moment. Consider Exhibit B, a tall, handsome boot from Fall 2009:
Me, I might have named this boot something horsey, like Derby or Gallop. But not Aquatalia by Marvin K. Nope, they named the boot Smirk.
Now, a boot like this one might make you beam or grin in delight. One hopes, however, that it would not make you “smile in an affected, often offensively self-satisfied manner”—which is the definition of smirk.
I don’t mean to pick on Aquatalia (a brand name that quite reasonably blends “aqua”—the brand focuses on waterproof footwear—and “Italia,” where the shoes are manufactured). Let’s take a look at another nutty inspired namer from right here in the US of A, Stuart Weitzman.
A classic, versatile sandal in croc-patterned leather, yes? And look! It’s available in tons of sizes and widths. Think for a minute about the images and events this sandal evokes. Think about asking your favorite shoes salesperson to bring it to you. Now imagine choking on the style name: Rimactivity.
Rim. Activity. I’m a tough cookie, but honestly? I’m blushing.
Also in the current Stuart Weitzman collections: Blog, a conservative pump no blogger of my acquaintance would ever wear.
Blog, also available in basic black.
Weitzman is also partial to punny names like Russiahour (for a sporty, shiny oxford) and mouthfuls like Midpuffystuff (for a ladylike patent-leather kitten-heel pump).
But wait, it gets weirder! (Literally: I once encountered a Naturalizer shoe named Weirda.) Here, from Tsubo, is a slingback peep-toe pump that looks perfectly proper—even, you might say, angelic.
So why is it named Erebus, after the Greek god of the underworld?
Nor do comfort brands escape the temptation to name recklessly. Here we have a sensible, well-made sandal from the Dutch brand Wolky. (Wolky means “cloudlike” in Dutch.)
It’s called, creepily, Rodentia. For you non-scientists, “Rodentia” is the order of mammals that includes rats, voles, and nutria. I ask you: do you want rats on your feet?
If I were to name a shoe “Rodentia”—and I assure you, I would try my hardest to avoid doing so—here’s the shoe I’d choose:
Marc Jacobs Mouse Flat
But then again, no one asked me.