John Fluevog is a Canadian shoe designer. His shoes are noted for their progressive, art deco inspired styles. His shoes are designed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but are made all over the world, including Portugal, Mexico, Peru, China and Vietnam. His shoes often include messages engraved into the soles, the most famous being from The Angel Family, whose soles read: Resists alkali, water, acid, fatigue and Satan.
Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Fluevog spent much of his youth at his father's drive-in ice cream parlour. During this time, he developed a passion for cars, which in turn has provided inspiration for many of his shoe designs. As his company's website declares, "When he's drawing a shoe, he's thinking about a car and, when he's drawing a car, he's thinking about a shoe".
After spending a summer hitchhiking the west coast, Fluevog returned to Vancouver and began working for Sheppard's Shoes. In 1970, he joined forces with fellow co-worker Peter Fox to start their own shoestore in Vancouver's Gastown. The partnership, known as "Fox and Fluevog", lasted over ten years before the two split amicably in 1981. In 1985, Fluevog opened his own store in Seattle, financed in part by the sale of his car.
During the 1980s, Fluevog was the first to import Dr. Martens shoes into North America. By the 1990s, Fluevog had opened five privately owned and operated stores in Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, Toronto, and New York. His shoes began to appear in magazines such as Vogue, in fashion shows for Anna Sui and Betsey Johnson, and upon the feet of celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Miss Kier. Fluevog shoes also were popular in the fashion of the Seattle Grunge movement, particularly his "Angel" boots that were inscribed with the words: Resists alkali, water, acid, fatigue and Satan on their soles.
By the end of the 1990s, Fluevog had stores in San Francisco and Chicago. These were followed in the 2000s by stores in Los Angeles, Montreal, and a new flagship store in Gastown. As of April 2015 there were 19 Fluevog stores in North America.
As part of Fluevog's green philosophy, when John opened his new Gastown store, he moved his design office into the store location so that customers could watch the design team in action from the first floor showroom. By creating desks out of scaffolding, tables out of fallen old growth oak trees and pipes salvaged from the Alaskan Pipeline, and using recycled carpets and other various cast-off items, John designed an eco-friendly workspace.
Fluevog "Angel" soles are resoleable and made from hevea tree latex, a natural latex harvested in Vietnam. Some styles have been made using vegetable tanned leathers. Fluevog has also released remakes of successful styles using hemp instead of leather, making the shoes vegan.
In 2002, John created Open Source Footwear, an online site where anyone can submit shoe designs. If a submission is selected, the shoe is named after its creator. As of April 2015, there have been fifteen open source submissions manufactured. Other Fluevog collaboration designs have included a snowboarding boot with Ride Snowboards, a bicycling shoe with Race Face Bikes, a shoe with the Danielson Family, and a Riding boot designed with Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols.
In 2007 after a spontaneous performance in the Vancouver storefront, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, gravitated towards the store's women's heels. Inspired by the performance, Fluevog designed a 2.5" men's high heeled boot named "Perry," which was manufactured in blue faux-crocodile, black snake, and mirror silver leathers for Fluevog's Fall '08 line.
John has gained fans all over the world who have become known as "Fluevogers". Some notable fans include Whoopi Goldberg, who wore a pair of John's Mini "Lover boots" on her first day as co-host on The View, Woody Harrelson, Scarlett Johansson, Robin Williams, Paula Abdul, Neil Patrick Harris, and actor Masi Oka who was seen wearing Fluevogs on many episodes of NBC's Heroes.
In popular culture
In her movie, Truth or Dare, Madonna opens a box of hot pink platform Fluevogs, slips them on, walks toward the camera, and says, "Ya like 'em?"
- Deborah Aarts, "Interview: John Fluevog on How to Turn Your Customers into a Community," Canadian Business, Feb. 23, 2015.
- Erin E. Clack, "5 Questions for John Fluevog," Footwear News, July 29, 2013.
- Shara Lee, "John Fluevog: The Creative Cobbler," Converge Magazine, Feb. 27, 2013.
- Barbara Schneider-Levy, "Celebrating with John Fluevog and Dr. Martens," Footwear News, June 7, 2010.
- Theresa Tayler, "Vancouver Shoe Designer John Fluevog Dishes on Madonna and More: Celebrated Shoe Designer Opens a Cutting-Edge Museum in the Heart of Calgary," Vancouver Sun, Dec. 16, 2011.
- William C. Taylor, "To Charge Up Customers, Put Customers in Charge," New York Times, June 18, 2006.
- Jennifer Van Evra, "John Fluevog on Music, Celebrity and Incredible Shoes," CBC Music, Oct. 21, 2014.