Tag Archives: sneakers

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.

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Filed under Proper Clothing, Shoes

1962 Fun-Shus Sneakers from the International Shoe Company

In 1962 the International Shoe Company was big business.  They owned quite a few well-known shoe brands including Florsheim, Shelby, Red Goose, Queen Quality, and Poll-Parrot.  In an effort to cash in on the sneaker market, they started a new brand, Fun-Shus.

A casual dressing America has created a 130 million pair demand for sneakers and fabric casuals, and International Shoe Company, in anything but a casual manner, is out to get its share of this growing market.

To a company like International Shoe that manufactured mainly dress shoes for all ages, the trend toward casual dressing must have been a bit alarming.  Out to get their share of the 130 million pair market, it could not have been easy going with established competition like Keds, P.F. Flyers, Sears, and J.C. Penney.  Until I found this company bulletin, I’d never heard of Fun-Shus, so I’m guess they didn’t do a lot of damage to Keds’ market share.

The booklet is interesting because it explains the process of making sneakers.

The fabric upper was fitted to the sole by the use of a nylon drawstring.  The upper was constructed and the drawstring sewn around the bottom of it.

Here is the room where the uppers were constructed.

In a unique manufacturing process, the uppers, which may be canvas, flannels, combination or drill cloth – or most any “casual” material for that matter, are constructed pretty much as usual.  Then, in the final operation in the plant’s modern conveyorized fitting room, a nylon cord is stitched around the bottom of the upper with an overthrow stitch.

On the right is an upper with the string drawn.

The upper is placed on a metal fitting form and the string pulled to fit.

Here we see the rubber sole before the upper is placed on it and vulcanized to attach the two parts.

From here, the uppers are sent to the molders – who with 20 machines in operation can vulcanize some 200 pairs an hour… A molding compound in put in the mold, the string lasted upper swung around and inserted in the mold, side walls are closed and in three minutes the shoe has a long-wearing, light and comfortable sole.

The completed shoe is pulled from the rubber mold.

There were several models of the Fun-Shu shown, including the square toed shoe seen above.  I’ve seen ads for square toe Keds from the early 1960s.

I think I need those gingham saddle oxfords.

Italicized text quoted from “Both Feet in the Fun-Shus Sneaker Market,” International Shoe Company News Bulletin, March-April, 1962

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More Days Wear, Warm and Dry in “Ball-Band” Boots

I think most of us in the Northern Hemisphere could do with a good, warm pair of boots today.  This little sales booklet comes from 1922, and is full of interesting options.

Ball-Band was a trademark of the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturers of Mishawaka, Indiana.  As the name implies, the company started out as a woolen mill, making blankets and wool felt boots.  In 1886 the company conceived of a boot with knitted wool uppers in which the wool was first knit, then felted through shrinkage.  The owner’s mother, Mrs. Jacob Beiger, knit the prototype for the product.  They were still being sold in 1922.

Rubber shoes and over-shoes were added as a product in 1898 with many of the shoes having a rubber sole and upper, and wool legs.  In 1922, they added sneakers, or sports shoes.  The next year the company changed their name to the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Company.

The little booklet tells not only the company’s story, but it also explains how rubber is produced and made usable by use of the Goodyear process.  They also treat us to views of the woolen mill.

To vintage collectors  probably the most familiar Ball-Band product is their line of Summerettes.  Summerettes were fashionable canvas sandals which had rubber soles and were meant for casual wear.  The name Summerettes was trademarked by the company in 1947 with the claim that the name had been in use since 1934, but their era of popularity was the 1950s.

By the 1960s, rubber over-shoes, regardless of their practicality, had become passe’.   Ball-Band fell behind in the sneaker game, with Keds, Converse, and PF Flyers all being the brands kids loved.  In 1967 Ball-Band was bought by Uniroyal, and in 1969, the last pair of shoes was made at Mishawaka.  Today the factory site is a public park.

A quick internet search showed that the Ball-Band brand name lives on in the form of cheap synthetic shoes for nurses and nuns.  I assume they are made in the Far East.

I have a new pair of Ball-Band shoes that I’ll show off soon.  They are sneakers in the form of Maryjanes.

PS:  How about that cover image?  Would you put a gun into the hands of a child that small?  And check out his “hunting” dog.

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Ad Campaign – Keds, 1922

Keds were first made in 1916, and their only product for the 95 years of their existence has been shoes.  So it was a bit of a surprise when they announced the release of a line of clothing.  It would be, of course, sportswear, as Keds has always been a maker of classic sneakers.

The line is currently being sold at Opening Ceremony in their stores, and online.  It is pretty much what you would expect, primarily sportswear basics such as tee shirts with pants, shorts and short skirts.  But there is also some outerwear and a few dresses.  I was pleased to see that the tee shirts and a few other items are  made in the USA, which was a bit of a surprise as Keds themselves have not been domestically produced for a good many years.  (Be careful if shopping, as the little American flag means only that the company is American owned.  To see the country of manufacture you have to click on the “Details” tab.)

It is a mystery to me why the made-in-China items are so expensive.  I have not seen these in person, so the quality might be extraordinary.  I hope so, because $150 for a pair of poly blend shorts seems to be a bit much.  Anyway my favorite pieces are USA made – the brown and beige ribbed turtleneck and the little white crew-necked shell are great, and I’ll even admit to liking the Keds logo sweatshirt.  But for the most part, I’m really not impressed.

Now, the shoes above are what impress me.  These are the ones in the 1922 ad, and I’m happy to say they are a part of my collection.

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Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Shoes