Fluevog

The partnership of icons came naturally

“We met in a crowded train station in Zambia,” says John Fluevog wistfully when recalling how he first officially encountered British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. The two had been familiar with each other for years, but that fateful meeting was the result of Rhodes losing a pair of the Vancouver entrepreneur’s shoes.

“I had a gorgeous pair of the platform ones in green suede,” recalls Rhodes. “They were stolen from my house. We had a robbery one Christmas, and they were the one thing they took because they could get it through the window, because we double locked the door so they couldn't get out the door.”

That meeting in Africa eventually gave way to a partnership in which Rhodes recently released several versions of Fluevog Shoes with some of her trademark flourishes, including ones etched with her pink squiggle.

“Fluevogs transcend fashion, they make a statement,” says Rhodes, who has designed garments for the likes of Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury. “They’re on their own level, which is fabulous. And they’re comfortable, they’re wearable.”

The pair saw more than a few similarities in each other. They’re both legends of their crafts who have each spent some 50 years honing their styles and going decidedly against the grain. “It’s rare that a person like herself is still doing what she’s doing and loving it,” says Fluevog. “And rare that I’m still in the shoe business and loving it.”

Fluevog

Fluevog has made a habit of doing creative collaborations with high profile and stylish characters, like a recent partnership with the family of Jimi Hendrix based on the late guitarist’s iconic style. Rhodes, who has built up a following across the pond where she founded her own museum, the Fashion and Textile Museum, was a natural fit.

“There’s a synergy to both of us in how we’ve lived our lives, the ups and downs, the things we’ve been through,” he says. “It’s not an easy trick to say relevant in the fashion industry for 50-odd years, especially as independent business owners.”

READ MORE: Q&A with John Fluevog on 50 years of kicking butt

And while Fluevog and Rhodes have both gotten there because of their ability to create popular products, that’s not the modus operandi for the shoemaker. It’s certainly not why he engaged in the partnership with Rhodes.

“Sometimes I've done things that I know aren't going to sell well, I know that before I do them,” admits Fluevog. “But I don’t care. Because for me, that individual item I’m doing isn't going to make or break my business. But it will make my business memorable. And make the product memorable.”

Fluevog

So while Fluevog knows that some customers might not buy any of Rhodes’ shoes, “they’ll remember [her] name. ‘That was Zandra, she did those crazy wiggle things.’ In these times, to be able to create an identity like she has, it’s not easily done. She believed in herself, not enough people do that.”