For over a year I’ve been searching diligently for a particular style of sandal, and today I thought I’d found them. I was wrong, but in the process made another, perhaps more interesting, discovery.
A while back I saw an ad for a pair of Sperry sandals in a vintage magazine. I neglected to note the date, but I’m sure it was from the late 1950s or early 60s. At any rate, the sandals were leather soles and a leather strap but with a rope thong that went between the toes. Sort of like what you see in the photo above.
I spotted these sandals the moment I entered the thrift store. It was one of those moment when the first thought of “Finally!” quickly gave way to “Close, but , no.” In other words, that little voice warned me before I even reached the rack that these were not the Sperry sandals I’d been searching for. There was a definite lack of the quality I’d expect to find in a pair of vintage Sperry shoes.
And I was right. The sandals were made by Kino, which rang a very vague bell, but which I really could not place where I’d heard of or seen them. They were leather, but the materials and the construction were obviously not high end. Still, they were cute summer thongs, in a style I’ve been wanting and they were very lightly worn.
So why didn’t I buy them? They were too big.
I was curious enough to see what I could find out about them, and a quick Google did not disappoint. Kinos are made in Key West, by the same family that has been making them since 1966.
Roberto “Kino” Lopez had owned a shoe factory in Cuba, which he left behind in 1962 when he left the island and the Castro regime. Four years later he took his savings and a small business loan and opened a small shoe making factory in Key West. The sandals are made by hand, using the same styles and patterns they have been making for three generations now. You can watch as the craftspeople make the sandals which are for sale in the factory shop.
On the website they have a page showing the sandals, but there is a notice that they are not taking on-line orders at present. I do suspect they will fill a phone order in case anyone wants to try. The prices are pretty tempting, and while I can’t vouch for them, the reviews on Yelp are very good.