Time often gets away from me, so I must apologize for not writing about Saf Shoes when I first heard about them a while ago. However, I see that their reputation grew and there’s a shiny new website now where you can view and purchase these dance shoes, so the order in the universe remains such that a good dance shoe is a good dance shoe and news of it will travel fast.
Vancouver dancer Jacky Li is the mastermind behind Saf Shoes, who shares his journey to shoes as follows: “As a long time dancers – we are talking over 10 years partner dancing, here – Jacky has put his time in on the dance floor. He knows how dancing affects the body and selfishly wanted to design a shoe that could let him dance all night without pain. It’s a crazy idea, especially because we know how hard ya’ll dance. The thing is, at saf shoes, we want to dance well into our 90s, and that means taking care of our bodies. Part of taking care of your body is finding a dance shoe that supports it.”
Right now Saf Shoes offers three styles of oxfords in 2-3 colorways, all with varitions on oxford detailing and Saf’s signature diagonal cap toe. The Shadow and Light collection plays with tone on tone textures in white and black (currently out of stock due to pandemic-related leather shortage); the Made to Measure collection plays with multiple colors and the shoes are customized to your feet (available in leather sole and tap shoe options); and the Intelligence is Sexy collection takes the classic oxford for a spin into easy-to-work-with colors with a fun twist and standardized sizing. Check out their Facebook page for more photos and celebrity endorsement by the Arntzen brothers.
One of the common complaints I hear about women’s swing dance shoes offerings is that they can’t find something flat and cute to wear with dresses. For a variety of reasons, heels won’t work for certain dancers and, depending on the day/circumstances/conditions, a pair of cute flats may be the only cure for what ails. Charlie Stone burst onto the scene a few years ago with their flats catering to dancers, but subsequently changed their business model and the soles of their shoes to rubber to accommodate a larger, less niche market. Other companies have offered oxfords and boots, but I know that I am not alone in preferring something that pairs traditionally well with dresses and skirts and doesn’t necessitate socks (I’ll deal with the foot funk fallout later!).
It’s always exciting to receive international packages in the mail and, from start to finish, Groovy Fox has delivered the goods. I opened my package and discovered a sealed envelope, with a thank you note (very classy, thank YOU), a welcoming solicitation for feedback and the means to do so, and a polite request for tags on social media; another card in the envelope talks about their goal of providing comfort and quality footwear and gives a list of aspects of the shoe they have focused on, such as insole cushioning, flexibility, softness, the strength and slide of the leather soles, and ends with a note that you are encouraged to wear them on and off the dance floor. The flip side of this card details and diagrams the layer of viscoelastic gel throughout and foam layer at mid-sole in the insole of the shoe.
The next layer of my package included a burgundy shoe bag with the Groovy Fox logo on it, made from a quality material with a grosgrain ribbon tie. I travel a lot and go through a lot of shoe bags to protect my shoes, so I was very grateful to receive a quality shoe bag that looks like it will wash well.
Finally, the shoes! On the heels of discussing my Dorothy complex in September’s post on Kitschy Witch, I was delighted to see that the red shoes I was anticipating were actually a delicious, shimmery ruby color. I may have died a small death of joy in receiving these shoes, the reveal was everything. The leather is soft, but not so soft that it doesn’t hold its shape. I can see these molding to my feet in good ways after several wears, and with the placement of the stitching and perforations I also anticipate that they will give in the right places and also hold up in those places.
The soles are smooth leather – I don’t have preferences on suede or smooth leather soles, so I can’t give you much feedback either way, but I did solo jazz, Lindy Hop, and Balboa in these shoes and did not feel compromised with any of these dances. I found the cushioning to not be overt – I could still feel the floor a great bit, so I feel like this would be a good transition to make from Remix os Saint Savoy shoes if you are needing a flat that is lightly cushioned, but you still want to feel the floor. If you need additional cushioning, I can see ways that you could easily add ball of foot cushioning with the closed toe box. If you need a lot of arch support, which I do not, this shoe does not have that arch support feature, although the gel in the insole continues through the length of the sole. The heel is rubber, but not a sticky rubber, so it did not inhibit my movement in any noticeable way.
I found these shoes to be streamlined and comfortable, a classic t-strap with great proportions and lovely details. They immediately got a lot of attention at my local weekly dance, both because of the wonderful color, the styling, and the fact that they are flat, leather soled dance shoes. The price point of $132 is a great value for the quality of dance shoe you receive. I have also had excellent communication with Groovy Fox’s executive director, Georgi Evgeniev. 10/10 would recommend!
For too long, the Keds and heels divide was a painful reality, with very little in the way of dance shoes in between these options. With the explosion of new swing dance shoe companies in the past few years, the options have increased, but often the flats offerings were limited to oxfords. Knowing how much work goes into starting any company, it stood to reason that shoe companies would offer those items that are already a sure thing, but even then one of the most common complaints I hear from women is that they just want a cute, flat dancing shoe. With Charlie Stone stepping away from the dance shoe market by eliminating leather soles, where does that leave us?
What I hope I am seeing is a trend toward cute, flat dancing shoes. At All Balboa Weekend this past weekend, I saw Re-Mix Vintage Shoes’ brand new Giulia model, a flat sandal with a leather sole in Re-Mix’s impeccable vintage style and colors. I have owned other pairs of Re-Mix’s flat sandals with rubber soles and love them, so it is exciting to see their take on a flat dance sandal in colors that compliment my vintage clothing. Not to be outdone, I spotted Saint Savoy’s announcement that their Riviera shoe (one of my favorite Balboa shoes) will now be a flat sandal – nothing was lost in translation, the proportions on this shoe look so lovely and I imagine I will see a lot of this shoe pop up at events in the fall after they launch.
Thanks so much to dance shoe companies for listening – I am so excited to be able to direct newer dancers to more flat shoe options that are not only comfortable, but also beautiful.
When I have heard about Slide & Swing dance shoes I usually hear about someone coveting their boots, but now I’m on their website having a panic attack over their ART DECO GLITTER DANCE FLATS. Do any of those words make you salivate? Available in teal, copper, and a sort of burnt gold color – limited edition, so you know what that means…
The newest contender in the swing dance shoes and apparel market is Swing It, based in Krakow, Poland. A quote from their Facebook page caught my eye, so we’ll start with that: “We believe in slow fashion philosophy – natural materials, quality and comfort.” If this quote had the word adorable in it, it might be directly targeted at me. I’m seeing this term “slow fashion” come up more often and, as I become the old lady I was always destined to be, I find myself drawn to this idea that fashion should slow down a little – as a vintage clothing wearer, this seems innate, but in terms of buying new garments made now (but in the vintage style – we’re full circle), this is a new term that applies to a very old concept, of buying quality things you love to last you for a long time. I think slow fashion is easier for people who have developed their own sense of personal style, but then you’re here, reading this blog post, so maybe you have that or maybe you aspire to that more permanent sense of style. Perhaps you’re here to augment your current style. If you’re comfortable in yourself, comfortable in your quality clothes, and are sweating it out on the dance floor in natural fibers, what more do you need from a garment? Whatever the reason, I’ve digressed far afield, so let’s return to Poland where this new swing dancer-focused brand resides.
I always try to start on a company’s about page, to get a flavor for what the company goals are and what makes it tick. Swing It produces reproduction clothing and shoes from the 1930’s through the 1960s, based on original patterns, with all of the clothing made in Poland. Goals are quality, great appearance, and customer satisfaction, but also personal satisfaction, as the owners of this company, Basia and Greg, design things they want to wear. I believe in this concept – if you like it and are excited about it, certainly there are others who will/are, too.
The men’s shoes are cap toes or classic brogues, with your basic brown tones as well as a more adventurous color/combination for each style (I see you, dark green cap toes!).
The women’s shoes are also oxfords, in lovely suede in two of my favorite colors – purple and green. It’s almost like they called me…