The Virtual Shoe Salon was designed as a response to how best to continue the Shoe and Tell research during the Covid-19 pandemic. The salon research started at the end of 2020 and focused primarily on first and final year students at NTU with the intention of examining how their sense of self and experience of university life had been impacted by the pandemic. The participants were asked to take their own shoe photographs and to write narrative responses to the following questions:
What do the shoes mean to you?
How do the shoes make you feel?
200 images and answers from students studying Fashion Marketing and Psychology courses were submitted online to Padlet. The narratives have drawn out emotive responses to their memories of a time before Covid-19 and hopes for the future. The shoe choices and narratives serve as important reflections of the impacts that Covid-19 has had on the everyday lives of these individuals. A small selection of candidates can be see on display below.
“I like to wear trainers that are a bit different to the norm and stand out from the crowd as I feel this is what best fits the way I dress and how I identify myself with the world…When I wear these trainers, I feel a breath of fresh air…they are comfortable, aesthetically pleasing (to my eye) and if a trainer was going to be me, it would be these ones. Because they make me feel happy/positive, they also give me a sense of confidence, whilst I am walking the streets of Nottingham; I love them lots.”
“I waited for months for a place to wear them that was outside my bedroom. When I finally had some resemblance of a normal summer, I cracked them out at every given opportunity. They remind me that I might get to do the same this year.”
“I first got these in second year when I went to Qatar for the World Cup Final as a present from a family member…The high quality leather makes it a really comfortable shoe to wear and makes me confident wearing them”
“I got my first pair of docs as a birthday present in 2018, and since then have fallen in love with the brand and I have now got 4 pairs. Once they are broken in, they are so comfy, so versatile, and even though they can be quite expensive upfront they are such a good investment because they will last you a lifetime…These docs in particular make me so confident and every time I wear them, I feel just a little bit cooler.”
“These shoes remind me of my winter adventures in different countries I had the opportunity to visit, offering me comfort in any walk I took through the cities…They are classic, fashionable and timeless…They make me feel sophisticated and I feel free wearing them during the day with any outfit but also during the nights at parties or events.”
“I found these shoes in a brick and mortars store in Nottingham; the shoes were one of my first purchases in the country and something I have been waiting for since a few years. These pair of shoes remind me that everything I have been waiting for and looking forward to will come to me eventually…The shoes are chunky, giving it a very young streetwear, trendy vibe…The shoes are made of PETA certified vegan leather, making me feel responsible and satisfied that I am doing my part.”
“I feel trendy when I wear them due to the fact that so many of my favourite influencers wear them. At the same time, I feel proud of myself that I can find shoes that I love that don’t cost me an arm and a leg. But lastly, despite the low cost I feel cautious when I wear them, they are pretty much white canvas so even the tiniest drop or splash would ruin them, hence why they have not been worn yet and will remain in the box until dryer months.”
“My outlook on fashion/clothing has become more sustainable and since these shoes are made from recycled materials, I believe they fit just perfectly with that approach…They, somehow, are the “cornerstone” of my transition into sustainable clothing… As silly as it may sound, whenever I wear these shoes, I feel like I am making a difference…They make me feel good about myself and the shift I have taken when it comes to my purchases for the future.”
“They remind me of when I moved to university because my birthday was in the first week of term… I feel confident because they are slightly chunky which is a current trend, but they do not make my feet look huge and are lightweight. I do not have any major feelings attached to these shoes about the time that I was given them, probably because my ‘moving to university’ experience was short lived.”
“The pair of shoes that bonded me and my flat mate, (now close friend) Millie, on our first scary, awkward charity shopping quest in Nottingham… I’ve worn them through every Uni adventure so far! They’ve met new people with me, explored a new home, seen late nights and early mornings, danced with me, witnessed me laugh and cry and caused me to fall over a lot!… They’re battered and scraped and second hand, and yet they make me feel like a kick ass woman! “
“They make me laugh mainly, in many ways. They have survived many dogs stealing them and taking them into the garden (hence why they are so filthy). I got them just before university to act as my ‘home slippers’ and bought another pair for Uni…I would also say they make me feel loved as they remind me of home and that I’m always welcome back to the family home.”
“These shoes represent my personality. I most of the time, wear trainers and sneakers which goes with my attitude and personality. So even while buying shoes I choose what goes with my style and attitude as well…I feel confident.”
“When I wear them, I feel fresh and clean, this is usually the case when buying new white shoes as although they don’t necessarily make you look smart – they make you look presentable and stylish…I do feel nervous when wearing them as I don’t want to let them get ruined, as they’ll probably never be the same again.”
“Not just their irreverent style but the shoes give a sense of functionality and durability while wearing them. I knew this will be my go-to shoes the moment I made my purchase!…I feel a boost of confidence when wearing it especially with the additional height that comes with the thick sole…The weather resistant and genderless design, means that it is functional and can go along with any looks!”
“I got them as a birthday present from my boyfriend and his Dad actually hand painted the lilac detailing onto the shoe for me. This personalisation makes them very special…I’ve always owned plain white Air Force but this pair are the best pair I’ve owned because of the fun colour and meaning behind them.”
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