Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Guest Post: Kinky Boots!

I am very honored to present you with a guest post this week from my hilarious real-life (and bloggy) friend, Duffy.

I think you will notice his post fits nicely into my LGBT Pride series. Plus, it's all about fashion, which I think might be a very slight interest to a couple of you. Haha.

Enjoy!

The pReview Re-viewing Re-Living True Story of Kinky Boots:

(warning: This may make you go buy shoes.)

by Jeff Finck


Steve Pateman may not be a name that most people know.  Nor will most people know his company W.J. Brooks Ltd.  Allow me to educate your face!  In 1979, a young man called Steve Pateman began helping his father make shoes at their shoe-making firm in Earls Barton, England, near Northamptonshire.. A city well-known for its shoe-making. (Apparently, as many as one third of all men in the city were shoe-makers by 1831!)  Little did Steve know at the time, his shoe-making roots were going to make history not 20 years later.. All thanks to drag queens.

Little known fact: 20 years of hanging out with drag queens WILL make you fabulous.

W.J. Brooks Ltd. (est: 1889) would continue selling and exporting quality men's footwear until the great market flood of 1990, when cheap, godawful, imported shoes started gaining momentum.  Couple that with the British Pound increasing in value, thus losing a lot of their export trade, Steve and his company struggled against the odds.  It got so bad by 1997, Steve had to give in and start cutting staff, many of them friends, in order to make ends meet.  Even after cutbacks and redundancies in staff, W.J. Brooks was getting beaten up pretty badly in the shoe game.

Not unlike a certain shoe-magnet/former President.

But in 1998, a fetish shop in Folkestone, England came a-calling and they needed a ton of women's shoes in men's sizes, STAT!  Steve saw an opportunity with this nearly untouched market, and thus began the Kinky Boots Factory!  Actually.. BBC wouldn't dub W.J. Brooks' new footwear The Kinky Boots Factory until 1999 when they featured their Divine Footwear on an episode of their Trouble at the Top documentary series.  BBC really prides themselves on coming up with clever names for things.

CBeebies may have blown my mind.

After MacGuyvering metal struts into stiletto heels, specially made to handle the sheer magnitude of a man's superior weight (it's science.. look it up in the Geneva Convention..), Steve attached those heels to various designs he had for wider, bigger leather boots.  In order to send out a catalog, though, he needed a man to model the boots.  When no one else would volunteer, Steve became that man.  With a catalog completed, a BBC documentary spot in the bag, and an appearance at a D├╝sseldorf footwear show, W.J. Brooks' Divine Footwear line would turn out to be a wild success.. For a time.  At its absolute height, the line accounted for nearly 50% of the company's profits!

Lesson learned: If money's tight, figure out how to shove metal into something feminine and sell it to men.

Steve Pateman's story has actually garnered much exposure over the last ten years, resulting in a movie AND a musical on Broadway!  The 2005 movie, Kinky Boots, starred Joel Edgerton ( The Great Gatsby, Warrior) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Salt, Serenity, Children of Men), and was loosely based on the actual events.  Even though the movie was only a moderate success, it did earn Chiwetel Ejiofor several nominations for best actor, including the 2006 Golden Globes!  The 2013 musical, also titled Kinky Boots, is based on the same (slightly changed) premise as the movie and has met a bit more success than its predecessor, recently winning six Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Musical.  The play was written by Harvey Fierstein and features music and lyrics by freaking Cyndi Lauper!

Ah, two people who could be picked out of a line-up by voice alone.

This story does have kind of a bittersweet ending, though.  In 2000, W.J. Brooks was saddled with such a massive debt by an (from what I can tell) unnamed American firm.. Plus, the fact that the crazy, cheap shoe-throwing industry had tracked his company down and followed them into the whole fetish line.. Steve was forced to halt production on his Divine Footwear for men.  Despite all of that, with the exposure of his struggles and successes, it would seem that a light has been re-shone on the city of Northamptonshire and many shoe-making factories have managed (as of 2011) to continue hugging the shoe-shaped balls out of the industry through the adversity.

Just like me!

Duffy likes to revel in the fact that he thinks he is a very funny person.
See how funny he thinks he is at his movie blog:  http://thepreviewreviewing.weebly.com/my-preview-re-viewing-blog.html

10 comments:

duffy said...

Sweet! Thanks for posting, Jenny!

Shybiker said...

Very cute. I'm familiar with the story from hearing about the movie when it came out. And I was cheering as Cyndi won her Tony.

These days, I buy real women's clothes but in my youth, I often bought (usually over-priced) apparel marketed to transgendered men. It's hard for us when we're so much larger than normal women. Try finding size 13 shoes!

Rosh S said...

Lovely! Duffy writes really well :) And this sure was an interesting story!

http://everythingthatclicks.blogspot.com

Couture Carrie said...

Amazing bio!
Fab guest post for this series :)

xoxox,
CC

Cafe Fashionista said...

I didn't heed the warning - now I want to shop for shoes. :/

My Unfinished Life said...

I did know about the movie kinky boots..dint know it was on this real story!!

http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

Blond Duck said...

Those are hot boots!

raleve jesica said...

This is very lovely and it is sweet style. The style I like very much. I am just searching for great mens leather jackets, and I find cwmalls.com can be a good choice for me.

Shachi Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mz Whipplash said...

But can you still buy those FABulous Kinky Boots? I am a Ciswoman with broader feet than modt who adores Kinky boots.

And I havr Tgurls who love boots but have to buy womens boots too narrow for thrm and get sore feet.

What's the Web site fir those Boots?