Vancouverite, designer extraordinaire and all around cool guy, John Fluevog is celebrating 50 years in the shoe business. His quirky designs and whimsical shoe silhouettes have garnered an incredibly loyal following, with 27 locations worldwide.
To mark this milestone, a book has been released that is just as colourful as the man himself. Filled with stories, hand written notes, and photographs illustrating his extraordinary story. John has a magnetic personality, and when you meet him, you immediately understand why he has been so successful. Tenacious, hard working, and someone who has always followed his instincts, it was a treat to interview John and learn more about his Unique Soles for Unique Souls.Congratulations on celebrating 50 years of Fluevog! What first drew you to designing shoes?
I did not set out to design shoes––I just started to work in a shoe store. Very soon after, I found myself in partnership with an experienced retailer and shoe designer… Presto! Like magic, I was in the shoe business.
Your designs have a very large and loyal fan base. When did you know your brand was garnering a following?
Not to sound like a braggart… but ever since Fox and Fluevog opened in 1970, we had fans. I would have people flying up from LA just to buy my shoes. But as you can guess, I have been though many fashion eras and each one at the time is a rejection of the other so the trick, in my mind, is to maintain your cool, keep your old customers and get a new generation.The book is such a beautiful and colourful representation of your work and life. What was the process like to put this together?
Putting the book together was not as pretty as the it looks! It was hard to get all the elements together, especially with all the people involved. The best thing that I did was have my son Jonathan record me on video for two days to get the story down. This ended up being the foundational tool which allowed us to put the book together.
One of our favourite parts of the book are all the fantastic campaigns and catalogs from over the years. What is your approach to speaking with your customer?
Yes, those are my favourite parts as well. I’d laugh myself silly doing them. It was a lot of fun for me. Always liked the idea of rejecting mainstream fashion and being a rebel and doing my own thing. It’s something I think our customers truly appreciate.
On the soles of each of your shoes, you will find a message. What inspired you to start doing this?
As well as good times, I have been through a lot of hard times and if you look close at the catalogues and shoe messages, you will notice that the messages are an expression of where I was at mentally when I was sketching and making that particular shoe.
What advice would you impart to our readers, many of whom are inspiring to work in a creative industry?
Oh yes. I can do that.
Listen closely to what enters your mind. Filter it for chatter and your own ego. Once you notice something coming back a few times and repeating, stop and ask yourself why and examine it. Then have the boldness and drive to just go do it. Do not copy others. Each of us has enough ideas of our own and those ideas and visions are special to only us. This is the magic. Be and trust yourself.
Images courtesy of John Fluevog