Friday, December 26, 2008

The İstanbul Cobber and the Shoe Heard Round the World

From Yigal Schleifer at his blog, Istanbul Calling:
I just spent some time today in the factory of the Turkish shoemaker who claims that it was his company's shoe that was thrown at George W. Bush and that his sales are now booming. Hard to verify his claims: the offending shoes have apparantly been destroyed, although I did see a group of men in the company's workshop feverishly making pairs of the shoe -- now renamed the "Bye Bye Bush" model -- for delivery to Iraq.

There certainly is a precedent for this intersection of politics and fashion (if that's a word we can use in connection with a very chunky, though suprisingly light, pair of shoes). In late 2005, Istanbul suitmaker Recep Cesur made headlines and then reaped a harvest of increased sales after Saddam Hussein appeared in a Baghdad court wearing a pinstriped Cesur suit. Cesur's sales skyrocketed in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, his suits now carrying with them the scent of power while making the statement that "I'm sticking it to the Americans" (or, more likely, to George Bush). During a visit to Cesur's Istanbul showroom, I even met an Iranian wholesaler who was snapping up Cesurs. The Iranians, who suffered terribly during the long war with Iraq in the 1980's, are no fans of Saddam, he told me. But a Cesur suit now had cache, he said. "If Michael Jackson drinks Coke, people will go to the supermarket and ask for Coke, not something else," he said.

You can read the article about Cesur and his suits here.
Click here for the New York Times article featuring Ramazan Baydan, the Turkish shoemaker who claims to have made the famous shoes.

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