Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Joe Famolare and the Platform Shoe - Part I


On August 16, 2005, "Joe Famolare and the History of Famolare Shoes" was presented in workshop format as a part of The Vintage Fashion Guild's "Fashionable Summer" designer workshop series on week #7.. The presenter was Chris Mastrangelo. The following article is a synopsis of presented information. Text (c) VintageGent, and The Vintage Fashion Guild. and the additional photos are copyright their respective sources (advertisements, press photos) or contributors (shoe photos). Use without permission prohibited, but may be obtained under certain circumstances and permitted in writing.

We hope you enjoy!

Joe Famolare and the History of Famolare Shoes

Part I: The Beginning.

Joe Famolare grew up in a third generation shoe making family. He was born in Boston and grew up in Chestnut Hill, which is a neighborhood/area on Boston's south side. His father, Joe Sr. owned Famolare Shoe Engineering, which was opened in 1934. The company made cutting patterns for the shoe industry. Joe Jr started working at the family business at the tender age of 12. Very cognizant of the child labor laws, Joe Sr. required him to pay income tax and file at that age. When he became the age of majority, he had already designed shoes and was a young executive at the family business.

Despite this early sucess he deviated from the family business and started singing in nightclubs for tips! According to Joe himself: " I hated the shoe business. It was so dusty and boring, and the people didn't seem happy. I could sing, and I studied voice seriously, and I found that people liked to hear me sing. So I went to Emerson to be an actor."

For the next several years, he attended Emerson college in Boston and pursued a degree in the musical theater. Midway through, his dreams were put on hold. He was drafted by the US Army. Joe served at the very tail end of the Korean war as a radio operator, broadcasting having been a minor in college studies.

After he left the millitary, at age 23, he soon decided that a singing career was not for him. Despite his disenchantment with the shoe business, he learned that long, highly irregular hours of a musical career and the irregular and meager pay brought forth by relying on tips was not for him.

Joe Sr. demanded that he could not just wander around "finding himself, that Joe Jr. needed to get a job. So, Joe was again hurdled into the shoe business and took night courses to finish a degree.

His decided deviation from his roots was short lived indeed. He melded his two interests leaving the family business being hired at Capezio, reknowned in the dance shoe business... in 1960.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II...



At 4/16/2007 10:00 PM, Blogger theblondielou said...

I have been a Famolare affectionado since the 1970's in my teens. I loved the early sandals that were delicate and dainty with thin straps and the platform had the definitive wave (I wore the flat to the 1 1/2" to the over 3"). I despaired when the newer ones arrived and when trying them, found them to be heavy, ugly and stiff.

Please, Joe. Please, Famolare....do a revival....go back to your original roots and do your old sandals!

Reading your story is very interesting. I am a ballroom dancer and when I could find your original beautiful delicate sandals of the style of the 1970s, I wore nothing else, except for dancing (I would have needed the thin suede sole for that but often said I wanted a Famolare dance shoe as your design was so very comfortable)....and now to find you worked at Capezio in ballroom dance shoes. Small world....



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