Recently, I vacationed in Italy. The constant focus on walking, exploring and comfort was front and center, all day, every day. Distraction from foot pain could not be tolerated while walking through the wonderful cities of Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan, and Vigevano or while trekking through the picturesque hiking trails and towns of Cinque Terre. There was simply too much to see and do. As it turned out, the only 'distraction' was looking at what others were wearing on their feet.
This dramatic and blatant shift to comfort shoes, athletic shoes and sandals was staggering. Locals and tourists alike, of varying ages and senses of style are all only wearing comfortable footwear. The most couture Italian brands are promoting comfort and leisure. Athleisure, which began as an American way of dress is now global.
Despite the trip's aggressive itinerary and luggage overload, it certainly didn’t disappoint! Each day was picture perfect and the cities and towns we explored were thriving. My niece joined me on this trip, her first out of the country, and I found myself taking everything in with a different lense. Seeing the traditional landmarks was amazing, but pointing out the hidden treasures such as the energy along the canals of Venice or at the train station in Milan, the sun, the lighting, the scents, the gorgeous white linen tablecloths and glassware set on tables along waterfront was a lot of fun. Touring the piazzas, resting at the espresso bars, while absorbing the Italian sense for design and appreciation for preserving historical buildings and traditions is what makes the experience that much more remarkable. While waiting for a train in Manarola, part of the beautiful Cinque Terre, we were even reminded of Italy's history with shoe making, referencing an exhibit at the Museo Archivio della Memoria.
The Italian sense of style in these historic cities continues to inspire. On the water taxis of Venice in the morning, we watched folks commute; balancing themselves on the crowded boat while moving through the canals and climbing in and out of them. Comfortable and stylish shoes with traction ruled. I noticed once again while walking along the captivating side streets and busy piazzas in Florence that the same, stylish shoes with traction ruled.
The footwear industry is changing because we are all craving the freedom to walk without distraction. My observations were both a relief and a validation to know that the spirit of how and why we formed Divadend Footwear was again validated every day during my visit. We all crave comfort and style without compromise; and the footwear industry is hearing us.