One of the things we have come to love, expect, admire, desire and despise are mass produced products from China.
Walk into any shoe shop 40 years ago and you were probably in a family business with an assortment of very different looking shoes to ponder and shoes from.
Most of the shoes on display would have been locally made with just a smattering of imported ones, usually Italian, in the more upmarket stores.
My next door neighbor often talks about the good old days working for local Adelaide shoe manufacturer, Clarks Shoes. He talks about the artistry of the ‘last’, the skill of buying the best leather and the workmanship of crafting each shoe. He made it very clear you did not need to be Italian to craft fine shoes though in his case a little person heritage might just have made a difference.
Soon the conversation veers north. Initially he talked of the buying of materials from China, then finally to the decline and transition to importing everything.
The workers retired or transitioned into other equally fragile manufacturing industries. The wonderful shoe-making machinery was either sold or discarded for scrap and a once vibrant local industry disappeared.
Now when we walk into a department store and see the same shoes replicated over and over down an isle, all we really see is cheap and made in China.
Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Made In China’, 1/800s f/1.4 ISO400 50mm