Unique Soles for Unique Souls

“Life’s too short to wear boring shoes.” — John Fluevog

The David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons, Rare Books and Special Collections, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC Library are pleased to present “50 Years of Sole: A History of Fluevog: Honouring a Vancouver Icon,” which is on display in David Lam Library from November 20 to December 24, 2019 and continues in the New Year in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre through January 13, 2020.

The exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of Vancouver-based John Fluevog Shoes, and the publication of a new book, Fluevog: 50 Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls. John Fluevog is a celebrated Canadian shoe designer known for his witty and unconventional style, as well as the uplifting messages that he includes on every pair of shoes. His designs are among the most distinctive footwear of the last fifty years.

Darren Dahl, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty at the UBC Sauder School of Business, Director of the Robert H. Lee Graduate School and Professor in the Marketing and Behavioural Sciences Division, attests to Fluevog’s significance as both a business and a cultural treasure, affirming that “Fluevog put Vancouver on the map for innovative and progressive shoe design.”

John Fluevog’s work in shoe design and business has been a winding journey with ups and downs. His career began in Gastown, where the Vancouver flagship store is located today, when Fluevog partnered with Peter Fox in 1970. The partnership, known as Fox and Fluevog, lasted a decade and saw the opening of multiple stores before an amicable split. The split marked the birth of “John Fluevog Shoes” with more store openings in Seattle, Boston, and Toronto. Fluevogs broke into the mainstream in the 1990s when they were worn by both Madonna in the film Truth or Dare and by Lady Miss Kier from the band Deee-lite. To keep up with demand, John opened up stores in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Today, Fluevog has 27 stores in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia. Throughout his career, Fluevog has woven his love of cars, his focus on community and culture, and design and sustainability into his craft and stores.

The Mini Gorgeous is UBC Library’s favourite Fluevog shoe, as voted on by Library personnel in an online poll.

The exhibition hosted within the David Lam Library and Canaccord Learning Commons highlights how John Fluevog has successfully built a business, a brand, and a community over the course of 50 years. Just as Fluevog values its customers as collaborators, locating the display in a vibrant, learner-centred space allows students to experience directly Fluevog’s collaborative, creative, and inspiring approach to business.

The display on level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre also features original multimedia illustrations from Vancouver artist Robert Chaplin’s The Elves & the Shoemaker, featuring charming and helpful elves making and wearing Fluevog shoes. The book is a delightfully illustrated adaptation of the Brothers Grimm original tale, inspired by the soul and soles of Fluevog shoes.

Complimenting the displays in the David Lam Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Walter C. Koerner Library will host a book display starting on December 1 that delves into the “sole” of Fluevog, bringing together materials on the subjects of footwear, fashion, celebrity, subculture, and Vancouver history that influenced and were influenced by John Fluevog. The display will also feature interactive de-stressing activities that tap into Fluevog’s creativity and playfulness.

Drop-in tours of the exhibition at the David Lam Library and Canaccord Learning Commons will be offered on the following dates:

November 26: 12:00-12:30pm and 12:30-1:00pm
November 28: 12:00-12:30pm and 12:30-1:00pm

We are pleased to announce these tours during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and we will feature subsequent posts featuring short interviews with UBC Fluevloggers on UBC Library’s Small Business Accelerator: sba.ubc.ca.

We are also delighted to host John Fluevog for a meet and greet and book signing on Wednesday, January 8, from 12:30-2pm in the foyer of UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, level 2. Join us for this opportunity to meet John Fluevog in person, congratulate him on 50 years in the business, talk shoes, and ask him to sign your copy of: Fluevog: 50 years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls. (Copies will also be available for purchase.) The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.