Head to Toe: Shoes and Hats

On Day one we introduced you to our favorite clothing gifts and yesterday, Day two, we shared some sculptural, statement jewellery pieces so it's only fitting that we now turn our attention to to the poles with a list of accessories to cover heads and toes.



SHOES

 


As we noted during last year's Gift Guide feature on mules, shoes make exceptional gifts and these pairs will surely leave your loved ones beaming with delight. With delight in mind, we must start with these killer Anfíbio Fish slippers from Lidija Kolovrat. Made of pvc, two lateral recumbent koi fish are ready to dive with you into any adventure. Complete with eyes, fins, tails, and emotive mouths, these funky flats are unquestionably cool. We love that the unexpected side-laying design that is cooercingly playful without making us feel like we've slid our feet into the koi equivalent of a bear skin rug. We're gifting the Anfíbio flats to everyone this year, but especially to the college bound teens in our life who will need these protective, water-dwelling companions as they venture into dorm showers!


 


If koi fish are a bit more whimsical than your desire footwear, how about some snake print for a nod to the animal kingdom with fewer eyes? Bells & Becks designed one of our favorite shoes in recent memory, the Allegra Black and Whites. Described as "a bold modern classic", the Allegra flats are devastatingly chic. Constructed of supple Italian leather with a graphic black and white snake skin print, each shoe is set atop a subtle heel that provides just enough lift to garner in us a feeling of poised and powerful confidence. The real majesty of this design lies in the understatement of the detail. A broad square tab is the main design element and, in itself, is an exemplary demonstration of masterfully elegant proportion. But when set atop the shoe, the geometry of the square is accentuated by the triangular point of the toe, the glistening brass rectangular ornament it holds, and the gentle, sweeping curve of shoe's collar. Upon closer inspection, one can also appreciate that the white printed pattern does not align to the natural scales of the leather, creating a dizzying optical illusion that is modern and unquestionably successful. One reviewer captured the shoe perfectly, stating succinctly, "Perfect".


 



With a similar commitment to detail, Miami-based brand ALEPEL shares " intricate and highly considered" hand-painted footwear pieces that are, truly, works of art. Manufactured in Brazil, each shoe finds its way back to Miami where its true beauty is actualized through embellishing designs hand-painted by expert artisans. We are currently loving the Bird Floral slides. The bands of the slides are the canvas onto which wild flowers and vibrant birds are painted. Tiny spotted petals and shaded feathers highlight the brand's commitment to artistic detail. Each brush stroke is applied with a thoughtful conviction and, together, the strokes form a modern painting that embodies the creative passions of Miami. While the cultural confidence of Miami inspires us to walk with our heads held high, these delicate works of art keep us sneaking glances at our feet!


 


Another pair of slides that holds our attention comes to us from the Loom Project of the Philippines. Working "with indigenous communities from Abra to Negros to produce handmade, sustainable fashion that blends modernity with tradition", the Loom Project does more than make exceptional accessories. The Project prioritizes and maintains a strong commitment to directing all profits to their goal of providing looms for the weaving communities who need them most. But, for the purposes of this gift collection, let's focus on the footwear.



There are dozens of designs available—and, frankly, we love them all!—but the Kristina Mules are our absolute favorite. As The Loom Project describes, the shoes are "intricately hand-woven from naturally dyed and pure local cotton by Creative Definitions of Negros Occidental, ...[and exude] Filipino pride. [They're] embellished with abaniko tassels and decorative seashells" (1). The exceptionally soft cotton that forms the top of the shoe has a subtle grey chevron pattern that serves as a dynamic, humming backdrop onto which the shells, tassels, and fan-framed pompons are added. We love the way the tassels sway and the pompoms quiver when we walk but we especially love the quiet clattering of the shells brushing against each other with each step. Not only are the shoes stunning, they're a sensory symphony that will entrance everyone on your gift list!



 



We found another remarkable pair of mules in Kazakhstan. Available in a variety of colours, these cozy slippers are made from felted wool sheered from local sheep and are decorated with a series of beautiful embroidered designs . Few things comfort us like wool slippers, and these Kazakh gems are no exception. Warm and soft, each slipper is as much a generous embrace for our tired feet as it is an aesthetic color-blocked accessory. Instead of wrapping more conventional—and comparably mundane—slippers, try gifting a pair of these handmade podiatric lullabies to your loved ones suffering from cold, tired toes this holiday season.




 


Turning next to Turkey, we discovered these two-toned sueded leather sabah shoes from HA & OR and we're entirely smitten. An inky indigo colored toe matches a wine hued mahogany back for a sophisticated colour palette that will appeal to everyone on your list. The linear stitched detail that traces the perimeter of the durable rubber sole offers an element of texture and depth to an otherwise simplistic design. These flats may boast a soft-spoken simplicity but they radiate a suaveness that will inspire you to smoke a cigar and swirl a glass of cognac, served with a drop of water of course.


 


If you're shopping for someone who would rather be venturing off trails than lounging in a smoking coat, try these Blue Tora-San High Top Japanese Workman's Shoes. "Traditionally worn for field work, carpentry, and construction [but] also great for urban environments", these are the shoes we pick when we want to get to work but refuse to compromise on style. Constructed of cotton canvas, the body of the workman shoes is breathable and easily broken in while a tall rubber sole is employed to keep you dry and protected from any treacherous terrain. All the functionality aside, these high-tops are just wildly stylish and they never fail to make us feel jaw droopingly cool and unwaveringly prepared for anything in urban jungles and rural roughage alike.





HATS

 


Turning our attention to the sky, we now want to share our 2021 hat picks! Much like the shoe collection featured above, this list of toppers is delightfully diverse and we are over the moon excited to feed your curiosities and offer you fashionable warmth with these headwear pieces.


If coziness is the goal for your headwear gift recipient, we invite you to begin this chapeau journey with us in Peru. A country with a prominent and knowing history of diverse hat design, it should come as no surprise that Peru is the origination of two hats on this list.





We admit, we have a penchant for a classic fur hat. Perhaps motived by a primal, pre-evolutionary experience with fur thats imprinted in our collective ancestral memory, we find fur hats to be timeless, comforting, and unquestionably luxurious. But our animal-loving sentience engenders weariness when it comes to fur fashions. This epic alpaca hat caters to our cravings for opulent pouf accessories while gratifying our desire to do no harm.




Ethically produced from cruelty-free alpaca wool, the hats are halos of downy softness that impart all the warmth, luxury, and chicness of a traditional fur hat. Peruvian "alpacas are highly protected", so much so that "the sales of [their] fleece and hides are carefully scrutinized" as "it is illegal under any circumstance to kill [Alpacas in Peru]"(2). Because of this regulation, you can be confident that these hats are both stylish and safe for the animal welfare conscious loved ones in your life. Plus, these pieces are available in a broad variety of colours so you have the option to share with your gift recipients a classic hued head covering or one with a modern, boundary-pushing boldness. As you can likely tell, we believe these Peruvian plush pieces are perfect for all persons on your holiday list.


 


While the delicious boldness of a pink fur hat will always tickle our fancy, there is something about the stocking cap shape of a classic Andean chullo that we always return to. Chullos are available in every conceivable colour palette but we favor those in the neutral warm hues that result from utilizing the natural variations of undyed wool. Vital holds a collection of chullos that are each more beautiful than the next. This cap—one of our favorites—forms it's abstracted, lanose pattern from velutinous cocoa, luminous cognac, and honeyed toffee browns for a highly sophisticated and crushingly aesthetic offering of design. Vital describes the romantic cultural emblematicallity of the design as follows:

Through the iconographies of the cap, the same ones that have been woven for millennia, the Andean worldview is represented, where everything is related. At the top, there is the sun, then the birds, the people, the llamas, the flowers and finally the crop fields. Thanks to this cap, the inhabitants of Pitumarca can be distinguished from the rest of the communities.(x)

The Peruvians in our lives emphasize their pride and connection to these chullo designs but we, as non-Peruvians, still find connection to the artfully abstracted mapping of Peruvian culture charted in these geometric patterns. No appropriating here, just an honest appreciation of beauty and a sincere celebration of artistry. Share this chullo with loved ones who, like us, swoon over the experience of culture, with those who bow to the allure of stunning fashion, or with those who just want to keep their ears warm on brisk winter nights!



 



Speaking of keeping warm, we turn next to Iceland, a landscape often synonymous with the commanding hand of chilling climate. Here, we find textile artist Anna Guðbjörg Cowden, the creative mind behind the brand Icelandic Knits which offers a brilliant collection of wool clothing and accessories that will surely lavish you with warmth. But this knit Ull hat is a unique delight that should be gifted to everyone.


Named after the Norse God of Bow Hunting and Skiing, the heathered olive headwear features a ring of gleaming white sheep whose onyx black heads and legs are only barely discernible against the dusky moss colour of the wide yard background. An accentuating valleyed stitch, in the same woodsy colour, forms a band that defines rim of the otherwise undisturbed shape. The hat is gorgeous and universally appropriate, complimenting all ages, genders, and tastes. Before we move onto the next hat gift, we want to briefly rhapsodize about Cowden's sublime description of the wool she uses for the hat.


The wool for this hat comes from the Iceland sheep that have been freely grazing the Icelandic countryside since the Vikings first landed and has since developed wet-suit like qualities that help to keep you warm even in the coldest of temperatures. (3)

We can't think of a more intoxicating way to describe wool and, as we're unconditionally smitten by the imagery of a bellwether leading a gentle, wandering flock across an arresting Icelandic landscape that's marked by the touch of Viking footsteps, are even more sold on this hat!


 


Maybe you are looking to give a beanie but want a message that's a bit more axiomatic than that imparted by the unspoken chronicle of the origins of the wool used to make it. If that's the case, we suggest this pop culture prompted product, the Law and Order beanie. We admit, we didn't find this hat ourselves. Last year, one of the member of the ARCANISA team was gifted this hat by a style-keen sibling and, upon discovering it at the start of the year when they emerged at the office sporting it with an unfiltered swagger only effectuated by the genuine love of a new gift, we knew it we had to feature it. In the United States, one of the most recognizable entertainment series is Law and Order. The defining masterpiece of creator and executive producer Dick Wolf, Law and Order is a crime television show that inspired the creation of a broader Law and Order media franchise, which boasts 8 television programs, the second-longest running scripted TV series in America, a TV film, over 1,000 hours of content, and a truly remarkably large fan base. Needless to say, the show is popular. Set in New York City, the original Law and Order depicts crime-fighting law enforcement agencies uncovering the truth behind fictional crimes and district attorneys taking over the resulting cases to bring offenders to justice at trial. History aside, suffice it to say Law and Order and its signature 'Dun Dun' chime have a reach of recognizability in American society that is unrivaled. As most Americans are aware, every episode under the franchise closes with a blank black screen with white text that reads "Executive Producer Dick Wolf". This hat references this iconic frame and not only exhibits a wearer's Law and Order fandom but also highlights a cultural and societal commonality that we too often take for granted. If you have a loved one who loves Law and Order—and we know most people in the U.S. do!— or one with an affinity for sociology, cultural/legal anthropology, or American pop culture, then this beanie, like the show it references, is sure to be a hit!


 


Next, we pivot away from the pop culture influence of the United States to look at headwear pieces featuring forms that are likely unfamiliar to the average American but evince such spellbinding aesthetics that your gift recipients will certainly be left beaming. While a relaxed and flexible beanie is always a comforting choice, the sculptural forms of these next hats offer a level of gravitas that will redefine your expectation of fashionable headwear.