Cool Notes Sneakers, Circa 1963

I’m really picky when it comes to adding things younger than I am to my collection. There really is a lot of stuff left over from the 1960s and younger, so a collector can afford to wait until  something really special comes along. As a rule of thumb, the younger the object, the better condition I want it to have. A pair of Keds from 1923 can have a bit of wear, but I want  a pair of sneakers from 1963 to be in excellent condition.

I first spotted these on the Instagram feed of @jessamity and I knew I had to have them. I have an early 1960s set of separates from Tabak of California, that came from the estate of the designer, Irene Saltern, that are a gray and white stripe. These shoes could not be more perfect to go with those separates.

I don’t have a firm date on the Tabak pieces, but stylistically, they date to the early 1960s. I can be a bit more certain about the shoes. I’m pretty sure they came from 1962 or 1963.  The story is in the turned-up toe.

This is from a 1963 advertisement for a pair of Daniel Green slippers. I had saved it because I have these slippers in pink. What was it about 1963 that made women want to wear a vaguely Asian-looking toe on their shoes?

I don’t have a definitive answer, but it is useful to get an idea of what else was happening in the world that might have inspired the look. In 1962, Jackie Kennedy went on a tour of India and Pakistan. Also in 1962, Lawrence of Arabia was released. Eastern culture was on people’s minds, and this looks to me as a fuzzy sort of Asian look.

To show just how fuzzy, the Daniel Green slippers were advertised as “Bangkok… Oriental opulence in a brocade slipper…” and the color was described as “Ming” blue.

I have not been able to turn up any information about Cool Notes, but these are a pretty inexpensively-made product. My guess is that they were made for the teen market.

There is one more hint on the box. These were sold at a store called Masso’s. I’ve found a Masso’s that was located in Plainville, Texas. I could not determine if the store is still in operation.

As always, additional information about Cool Notes would be greatly appreciated.

15 Comments

Filed under Proper Clothing, Shoes

15 responses to “Cool Notes Sneakers, Circa 1963

  1. These are great. When I accompany my friend to estate sales as she buys for her vintage shop (brick & mortar), I always ask her, as she mulls things over, ‘Is it really special? is it in great condition?” Because you are so right — there is a ton of 70s and 60s stuff out there, and a lot of it is meh, or worn/soiled.

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  2. I love those! And your “fuzzy Orientalist” pink slippers must be wonderful too.

    Did a quick database search, and though I couldn’t find out anything about the company or brand, I did find a 1963 ad for Cool Notes ladies’ sneakers (they looked a little like flat, lace up espadrilles), and ads from 1965 and 1966 for ladies’ Cool Notes shoes–“slim line flats” in black “Patentite”.

    Would you like me to email you the images?

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  3. There was an Indian shoe company called Taj of India who were popular in the early 60s who might have influenced these. They later supplied shoes for I Dream of Jeannie.
    There are lots of images of their adverts online.

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  4. Those are really fun! I love the great variety of shapes and colors that sneakers, or casual canvas shoes, came in back in the day.

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  5. jacq staubs

    I recall some of the “Asian/ Oriental influence in early 60’s in collars on blouses and shirts. The “Suzy Wong” dresses and jackets? Shirley Mac Lane wore a dress through out one of her movies. Also interior design reflected the trend in color and furniture and accessories. Jade and Ming were apparent in movie sets.

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  6. Somewhat late with a reply to your Cool Notes post, but it is a busy season. From what I have been able to unearth, the earliest reference to Cool Notes shoes I found was in a 1961 ad that referenced “Cool Notes by Johnsonette,” and “the new Cool Notes line of Endicott Johnson line of casual shoes for young women.”

    Trademark information states “Cool Notes” was first used in commerce in January 1962 (well, see my prior comment). The trademark filing date was May 1966 and the regustrant was Endicott Johnson Corp of Endicott NY. The last listed owner of the trademark was Rocky Brands Inc of OH.

    A 1970 publication stated: “…of the shoes produced by Endicott Johnson, approximately one-third are sold to mail order houses and large chain stores, approximately one-third are sold to small independent shoe retailers, and approximately one-third are retailed through…(the text was cut off here, but references the shoe trade names, including Cool Notes).

    An undated publication stated: “Endicott Johnson sells men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes under various trade names, including the following: “Johnsonian,” “Guide Step,” “Dobies,” “E-Jay,” “Cool Notes,” “Ranger,” “Fashion 10,” and “High Society.”

    The last bit of (legal) information I found was about the begats (mergers) of the sundry shoe businesses. A 2006 (I think) document noted that (at some recent point?) EJ Footwear LLC merged with Rocky Brands Inc., whereby EJ Footwear ceased to exist and Rocky Brands survived. EJ Footwear was, of course, Endicott Johnson footwear. Rocky Brands waa formerly known as Rocky Shoes & Boots Inc.

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    • Thanks so much for all this great information! Endicott Johnson Shoes was a huge company, so it is interesting that Cool Notes was one of their brands. I would have thought that the Johnson name would have been somewhere on the box, at least.

      Your finding on the trademark site points out a common problem with it. As the information on the application for trademark was provided by the company itself, errors are common. I always try to consider all the sources before taking the trademark application as gospel!

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  7. what shoes of that material should you know?

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