Vancouver-based footwear king John Fluevog, best known for his quirky, exaggerated silhouettes and technicolour shoe designs, has amassed fans around the globe. With 27 stores worldwide and a celebrity following (you might have heard of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Madonna), it’s an exciting time to be a Fluevog fan. We sat down with the man himself in his flagship Gastown boutique to talk about his career and his new book, Fifty Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls. —Jeanine Gordon
Congratulations on 50 years in business and on the beautiful book that chronicles your brand’s evolution. What would you say is the most profound way in which you’ve evolved over the last 50 years?
Every day has mattered. It’s been the story of me getting to know how I was made. I started out thinking I was not very good at anything. I was a wandering soul and my career has been one of me getting to know myself and discovering what I was good at. Once I figured that out, I ran with it. I’m thankful for that, for getting into something that I could do, and do well.
You’ve taken inspiration from cars, disco, grunge and travel in the past. What is your main source of inspiration today?
It’s the people who wear my shoes that matter. I believe that individuality is good and I believe in celebrating people’s uniqueness. Inspiration, for me, is the boldness and confidence in what you do. I think the things that come from your soul are good feelings and I run my company on feelings—it gives me the confidence to try wacky things.
You’ve always been a champion for the environment. How are you contributing to environmental sustainability today?
Back in the '90s I started paying attention to the environment and using natural materials, but nobody cared. Now that’s changing and people are realizing that the things they consume make a difference. My slogan is, “Buy Better, Buy Less,” which sounds crazy for a retailer to tell people to buy less, but it’s true. Buying more product that you’re going to throw away after a season is not cool. We have an online marketplace where people can buy and sell their used Fluevogs, called the Fluemarket, and that’s probably the most eco-friendly thing we’re doing today.
You’ve worked with a lot of designers and celebrities—who has been your favourite to work with?
The most truthful answer I have to that isn’t about celebrities or entertainers. I still get excited when I see people wearing my shoes walking down the street. It’s the unique people who wear them who become the stories that I make up. Those are the people who get what I’m trying to say and that’s what makes me the most excited.
You don’t strike us as a “play by the rules” person, but style wise, what personal rules you do live by?
Mix it up. Never be all one thing. Play with vintage and things that are already in your closet that you have and love. And whatever you wear, do it with panache and authority. Everyone is unique and our clothes express who we are and how we fit into society. Never think you can’t pull something off—wear whatever you want and own it.
You’ve had great success in the last 50 years; what’s next?
A while ago I was wondering if this was it, but I had a thought: have greater expectations. I don’t know what that will be, but we’re moving and changing. It’s not over!
Win! A Copy of John Fluevog's New Book!
Wer have a winner! Congrartulations Marina H. of Coquitlam, B.C., who won a copy of John Fluevog's new book!