Urban 2.0

The politicians have had their shot at the cities. Now it’s the coders’ turn:

The phenomenon of the software khans starting to deploy their vast oceans of capital into remaking the American public square is just beginning to grow. [Zappos’ Tony] Hsieh in Vegas, Quicken’s Dan Gilbert in Detroit, and others are beginning to take advantage of the devastation that the Blue State model has wreaked on America’s cities (and, not incidentally, at the same time lowering property acquisition costs dramatically) in order to build new visions of urban organization and structure.

The Millennials who will live and work in these new places are famously cooperative, collaborative, and group-think oriented. These new urban approaches will cater to those tendencies.

Here in the Big Breezy, where urban decay is (mostly) pushed off to the side, we’re not seeing exactly this sort of renaissance — after a couple of successful rounds of MAPS, the third is somehow provoking fractiousness — but we have those Millennials in place, so we may get similar results, if there are indeed any results to be had. And besides:

[T]his is the sort of change I would expect to see as the bankruptcy of the American political model becomes more apparent, and the wreckage created by it becomes more widespread.

And frankly I would much rather see this coming from the gazillionaires of tech than from the hapless, pathetic dinosaurs of Washington, D.C.

Silicon Valley is famously blue; replacing the old-think, Democratic Party version of blue with the high-tech New (Somewhat) Blue almost has to be an improvement.

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Go thou and do likewise

I strive at all times to inspire my readership:

I had despaired of ever wearing sandals again after the plantar fascitis and resulting physical therapy diagnosis of stretch every day and never go without orthotic inserts. Then I saw a post over at Dustbury wherein CGHill opined upon a recent sandal purchase. (Sorry, I know that post is ancient in weblife but it took me awhile to work up to a purchase) So I went to Zappos and started looking around. Searching with “orthotic” and “sandal” led to these:

Orthaheel Porto III

“The ultimate in functional fashion,” says the blurb for the Porto III slide by Orthaheel. The pseudo-wood design is unconvincing, but this probably doesn’t matter unless you’re planning to seduce Hans Brinker. The verdict from our buyer:

The reviews seemed favorable enough to outweigh the assumption that has to be made with any consumer reviewed product — namely that most reviewers will be complete idiots. So I gulped hard at the price, closed my eyes and ran up the credit card debt. (I really hate wearing socks and shoes in the summer.) So far, I wore them to work yesterday and my feet were fine. I’ve stood up quite a bit today in the kitchen and outside doing some plant repotting and my feet are still pretty good.

Pictured is the Pewter color; the one she actually bought appears to be Brandy, and there are Black and Ivory variants as well. I gulped at the price, because it was about eight bucks more than the shoes I’d bought this spring. Then again, resistance to pronation ain’t exactly cheap, and besides, girl-type persons are for some inscrutable reason expected to pay more for shoes.

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Big Bezos is watching

Earlier this week, I bought a pair of shoes from Zappos. It was not the first pair I’d looked at; in fact, I’d gone to Amazon earlier, and looked at a New Balance slide. Apparently the Amazon Multi-Brain II remembered this — Zappos is, of course, now under the Amazon umbrella — and for the next several days, visits to Fark brought me an Amazon ad featuring exactly that same slide.

It’s not like I’d never seen that phenomenon before. A few days earlier, I’d done a feature on a Charlotte Olympia sandal with a “poodle heel”, sold at Neiman-Marcus, and for several days any Neiman’s ad I saw contained a line of shoes, starting with that very one: obviously they’d remembered that I’d been to neimanmarcus.com to look at it.

Finding $27 a bit easier to pry out of the budget than $1,695, I returned to Amazon and bought that damn slide. The Fark ads quit almost immediately. So this is the new paradigm for online advertising: nag, nag, nag.

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Take a walk

The last time I mentioned Propét shoes, it was in connection with their Edgewater Walker slide, and it was the first time I ever wrote up a shoe post based on the Zappos Order Map.

This item appeared on the map yesterday:

Propet Surf Walker

In fact, I was the person who bought it. It’s Propét’s Surf Walker, the one surviving item after I patiently drilled down through Sandals/Men’s/Sized for Sasquatch. The purchase motivation was twofold:

  • I figure, as much as I rely on these guys for blogfodder, the least I can do is buy something fercrissake;
  • My old Nikes are starting to disintegrate.

Interestingly, they carry a six-month/1,000-mile guarantee. I don’t know how long it will take me to put a thousand miles on them, but I’m certainly willing to try.

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Also usable for left turns

I’ve pulled this stunt before, and I’m doing it again. The gimmick: bring up Mappos, the new name for the Zappos.com order map, and report on the first pair of shoes I see. These are on their way to Albuquerque:

Sizeup by Stuart Weitzman

This is “Sizeup” by Stuart Weitzman, intended to “inject a little fiery passion into your attire.” I dunno. I like the look, generally, but I don’t think of these as being particularly passionate, especially in “Slate Guinea Croco.” (There is also an “Espresso” variant, which I see as a little more emotional but a little harder to match with one’s wardrobe. Your mileage may vary.) And that wide heel doesn’t look as tall as it is (four inches). Zappos normally asks $385 for these, but our bargain hunter in New Mexico bagged ‘em for $249. The readership here is known to contain some non-fans of Weitzman, but that’s just the chance I have to take.

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New moon on Wednesday

This shoe is called “Moon,” but it doesn’t seem, you know, all that moon-like:

Indigo by Clarks Valley Moon

On the other hand, it’s as unballetic a ballet flat as I’ve ever seen, what with that patent toe and the bronze-colored leather. (Other combinations are available.)

About Clarks Valley’s Indigo line:

Indigo is fashionable. Never trendy. Classic. Never boring. Fusing unique design with premium materials to bring distinctive style to every wardrobe, the Indigo collection is witty and surprising, artsy and stylish. For women who take sincere delight in mixing and matching clothes and accessories to achieve a look that’s unique and expressive, Indigo is a fresh new expression of comfort.

Of course, they have to say that.

“Moon” can be had from Zappos for a hundred bucks. (I found this on their Map app.)

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For your date with Optimus Prime

As I’ve done before, I sat out on the Zappos order map (which has now moved here) and recorded the first shoe purchase I saw. Took about 38 seconds.

Forbes by Nina

This is “Forbes” by Nina, and I spent entirely too much time wondering if the late Malcolm Forbes might have at one time commissioned a design like this. (Answer: probably not.) Whatever its origins, it looks very much like a one-use-only shoe, the sort of thing you’d buy for prom night or bridesmaid duty. (More than half the reviewers on the Zappos product page said they were thus motivated.) The $80 price isn’t too outlandish, unless of course you really aren’t going to wear them ever again, and there are ten colors: this one is called “steel.” And they swear that’s a three-inch heel, though it doesn’t look that tall in the picture.

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Not a small burro

Suzette tells the story:

I’m looking online for a pair of comfortable low-heeled pumps and I came across the Fitzwell Burrito. Doesn’t it sound like they are being sold by Mr. Haney?

Well, let’s see:

Burrito by Fitzwell

I don’t know. With that squared-off toe and two-inch heel, it seems more Pixley than Hooterville. Zappos doesn’t care: they’ll sell it to you for $79, and it won’t have to come by the Cannonball, either.

I can imagine, though, Mr Haney making a pitch like this:

Starting off the collection is a line of footwear designed with a gel insole that has been laboratory tested to withstand up to 1,000 lbs. of pressure to insure durability and that absorbs the shock from every step we take.

Prettier than a little red wagon going up a steep hill, it is.

Addendum: Because I felt like it, “A Day in the Life of Green Acres.”

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Not guaranteed Styx-proof

The road to hell, we are assured, is paved with Good Intentions, which inexplicably is the name of this Seychelles wedge:

Good Intentions by Seychelles

The Seychelles brand, says their manifesto somewhere, is “designed for a girl with a different point of view. Her soul is romantic and her spirit is independent. She has a keen eye for style and she mixes classic and modern style with effortlessness.” Fortunately for me, I know a few such.

“Good Intentions” is three inches tall plus one inch of platform, and it’s here because it’s orange, or so they say. Lindsay of Broke & Beautiful likes the silver version, and she thinks this color is really more of a fire-engine red; she may have the better of the argument. There are blue, black and tan variants as well, all with this stacked heel, and they run $110ish, though Zappos will let them go for $87.99 for, as the phrase goes, a limited time.

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In case you suffer from slow remorse

From the “I never would have thought of that” files, a complication in the Zappos.com return policy, though you’ll need to buy this Wednesday to take advantage of that complication:

You can return your purchase for up to 365 days from the purchase date. If you purchase on 2/29 of a Leap Year, then you have until 2/29 the following Leap Year to return those orders. That’s four whole years! Woot!

God only knows how much shipping will cost in 2016, but at least Zappos pays for that.

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In for a penny

Remember when penny loafers were more or less flat? Here’s a small change:

Night by Boutique 9

“The wild night is calling your name… Will you be ready? These precocious pumps were made for the deviant diva!” So says the Zappos blurb for “Night” by Boutique 9, which takes the classic look to an unexpected (by me, anyway) height. Deviant? Well, maybe not so much: a four-inch heel, even stacked, isn’t that big a deal anymore, and there’s ¾ inch of platform underneath. All colors, at this writing, are marked down from the original $180, the green — well, it isn’t that green — the most of all. In terms of poundage, figure 0.75.

(Suggested by an InStyle tweet pointing to several such shoes.)

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Snappy ginger

Another find — almost — from the Zappos heat map:

Ginger by Gabriella Rocha

This is “Ginger” by Gabriella Rocha, which demonstrates that some people never quite get tired of the Mary Jane look, though on this one the strap is a little closer than average to the toe, and the stacked 1¾-inch heel is not as clunky as some. Zappos sells this in thirteen different colors, the one portrayed here being Bone, though the person who actually ordered it at the time I saw it on the map got hers in black patent. Then again, she’s from New York.

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The bargain hunter brings home a trophy

During my days in New England, I discovered something called Filene’s Basement, oddly enough underneath a Filene’s store. Items relegated to the Basement were marked down some startling amount, and further markdowns were taken if they survived ten, then twenty, days. After 30 days, anything left was donated to charity. I learned to keep well back as shoppers fought each other for items on Day 29.

Then again, I’m a guy. I don’t have the killer shopping gene. I’d never survive this sort of thing:

Got a Lord&Taylor end-of-season coupon in the mail (something useful in USPS pulp download, for a change) and went to get my “20% of our sale items” bargain. Naturally, same idea occurred to other 759 women, all wandering in pandem0nium around same 4 1/2 stands with all left-shoe sale merchandise and then shuffling among settees with boxes and single shoes strewn all over them in insane hope to find something wearable AND moderately priced — unlike a pair of some-designer-I-never-heard-of podium-rough creation which was generously discounted from “suggested” $1,400 to mere $850. And who, incidentally, are those crazies who’d suggest such a thing? I want to look into their shameless eyes.

She did, however, score:

Quilt by Franco Sarto

Marked down from $69 to $55 at Zappos, our heroine snagged a pair of these for a mere $30 (marked down from $125 because it’s Lord & Taylor fercrissake). For absolutely no reason I can see, Franco Sarto calls this shoe “Quilt.” I definitely like the look of it: it seems more insubstantial than it really is, though it’s hardly gossamer.

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Kandora kan do

The Zappos Map now has a tweet function, so you may have seen this last night:

Someone in Acton, Brookings, OR is getting cool shoes from Zappos! #zapposmap

The perplexing aspect of this, to me anyway, is that reference to Acton, which is nowhere near Brookings, Oregon. (Brookings is in far southwest Oregon, so I guessed that maybe they’d conflated it with Acton, California, but no: Acton is way down in the Antelope Valley, just north of L.A.)

Still, I thought the shoes were kinda cool:

Kandora by Madden Girl

This is “Kandora” from Steve Madden’s Madden Girl line, described in-house as “completely on-trend while being affordable for the young fashionista.” There’s also a version with a lot more yellow in it, replacing that little flash of pink with a dark-blue patch of houndstooth. It’s not formal in the least, but it’s also not bone-crushingly tall — 3½ inches, minus ¾ inches of platfom — and the price is an allowance-friendly $50. I’m sure there are places in Oregon, or even in the Antelope Valley, where you can wear this.

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Fill in the blanks, I suppose

How is Zappos going to get you to notice that they’re now selling other apparel besides shoes? Apparently by showing you someone not wearing it:

Zappos: More Than Shoes

Three ads of this general nature will be appearing in magazines this summer. All feature female models, though we are assured that there will be men appearing in some of Zappos’ Web ads.

There is precedent of a sort for this: at least a decade ago, Abercrombie & Fitch’s catalog showed a lot of their clothes not being worn by their models.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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They like their java waxy

“Java Waxy,” surprisingly, is not a Starbucks rival financed by Madame Tussaud, but the color of this here Dansko sandal:

Serena by Dansko

“Serena” is dearly loved by Zappos customers — 75 percent of respondents to their survey gave it five stars out of five — and by at least one Facebook friend, which is why it’s here. The other colors are equally Waxy: black, brandy, chino, sangria and turquoise. The heel doesn’t quite look 2¼ inches tall, which I attribute to the judicious shaping of the one-inch-high platform. And no, that’s not real wood. Zappos sells this for $115, maybe: some of the colors cost less than others. (The sangria version right now is a mere $89.)

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Lorissa explains it all

Lorissa by Sam EdelmanThursdays the Oklahoman runs a section called “Mood,” which basically takes the existing “Life” section, turns it from portrait to landscape orientation, and glams it up with whatever fashion news seems pertinent at the moment. Last week there was a bit about Summer Shoes, which I of course read — I have to read the section, because that’s where they move the contract-bridge column on Thursdays — and I caught a glance of “Lorissa” by Sam Edelman, worn by [insert name of anonymous model with nice legs]. At the time, I didn’t think much of it; cute pump, peep-toe, what appeared to be some random animal print out back. Certainly it wasn’t going to make it onto these pages.

The paper eventually posted a Webified slideshow of the shoes in that section, in which the quality of newsprint photos was not a factor, and holy mother of pearl, that’s not some random animal print out back, as this more-detailed photograph reveals:

Lorissa by Sam Edelman

Stones and studs, sharp edges, perhaps excellent for impromptu training of your inept dance partner, but downright dangerous in the hands of on the feet of a novice. (Just putting them on, I fear, could be hazardous.) Zappos stocks this in various colors — you’re looking at Nude Leather — for $199.95; I’m sure the “killer heels” description on site was intended to be metaphorical. For the data collectors: 4½-inch heel, ½-inch platform, weight (at size 7) 14 ounces. Maybe all that mineral weight in the back will keep you from pitching forward.

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See you at the 19th

Another find from the Zappos.com heat map, this is “Rachel” by Ara:

Rachel by Ara

Half a dozen colors are available, including something called “lava,” but this is the beige suede/sort-of-crocodile version. For some reason, I read this as the shoe for a woman who wants to look like she plays golf without having to suffer the indignity of actually showing up at the first hole. At an inch and three quarters, it’s not exactly flat, but it’s not going to tilt you forward at an alarming angle either.

Reasons why I looked at this shoe: (1) I wanted to see what it costs, which is $145; (2) I wanted to see if it had anything to do with Ara Parseghian, which it doesn’t.

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Just wedging in

About fifty seconds on the Zappos.com heat map yielded up this cute wedge, sold to someone presumably shoeless in Seattle:

Coretta by Naya

This is “Coretta” by Naya, with an actual hemp platform midsole for that espadrille look — well, an espadrille on a slant, anyway. The platform is an inch and a quarter, the heel 3¾ inches, and the lining is leather. And this part of the company pitch was sort of interesting:

The styles feature chrome-free or vegetable-tanned leathers, natural, organic or sustainable fabrics, heels made from sustainable bamboo, biodegradable latex foam cushioning, natural cork and rubber footbeds, outsoles made with recycled materials, nickel-free metal buckles, recycled paper boxes, and water soluble glues and cements.

I had to think about “chrome-free” for a moment, but then chemistry class from forty-odd years ago came back to me: chromium salts are often used in the tanning process, and they’re not something you particularly want seeping into your water supply.

“Coretta,” it turns out, has a vegetable-tanned upper. I’m thinking this might be a little too dark for a classic neutral — if that doesn’t bother you, there’s a version in navy — but hey, now you can bring out that peasant skirt you left in the back of the closet decades ago, right? Zappos will sell you this shoe for $145.

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Further adventures in tracking

Those of you who pay attention to the shoe stuff around here might possibly remember that a few days back, I wandered onto Zappos.com and noticed that they had recommendations for me, one of which I posted here to see what kind of reaction it might get. I decided to wait a while, then go back and see if they had something new for me.

Which they did:

Whirl by Stuart Weitzman

Before you: Stuart Weitzman’s “Whirl,” a sandal which meets my definition of “insubstantial”, in a color called Bronze. There’s also an Oyster version, which you might find more useful if you’re visiting the Neutral Zone, though I should point out that one reviewer took exception to the color descriptions and returned both pairs. The heel stands a moderate (for these days) 3¾ inches; the upper is kid; the price, for the moment, is almost 50 percent off, albeit still too close to $200.

I’ll go back in a week or two and see what else they’ve cooked up.

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