Monday, 8 June 2015

VIAJIYU, shoe feminism and the rise of the ballerina flat

                                                             VIA  is the Italian word for 'road.' 
                                                        JIYU is the Japanese word for 'freedom.' 

                                                        VIA + JIYU means "The Freedom Road."

As a traveller and avid walker, sightseeing in big cities can take its toll on your poor feet. I was perhaps daydreaming about the perfect pair of flats when, on a winding street in old Florence, I happened to see the shop window of VIAJIYU, where tens of pairs of brightly coloured ballerina pumps entice any and every woman to step inside. 

That, in a few words, is the VIAJIYU experience. Created by the lovely Nicole Still, VIAJIYU is an example of forward thinking fashion where functionality and modernity combine with a sort of creative and certainly artisanal licence that is rarely found nowadays. 

VIAJIYU is about #feminism. Yes, that is right, time has come for women to become feminists about footwear. Everything about the brand is targeted and tailored to the modern woman, attracting the sort of women who write their inspiring stories with every one of the many steps they take in life - and those women definitely need a good pair of flats to help them along the way, across the world. In light of the Cannes festival banning heels on the red carpet, VIAJIYU is here to say that flats are just as empowering as any old pair of heels - by staying true to her needs, a woman is only true to herself and VIAJIYU flats are all about women being confident (and comfortable) in their own skin. Even more, since every woman is uniquely special, so is every pair of VIAJIYU flats that are custom made and designed by women for women. Talk about girl power!

VIAJIYU is also about #storytelling. Like every battered pair of Converse (we all have a pair either by the door or nostalgically gathering dust in the back of a closet), flats are there to take us on adventures and journeys and frankly play a pretty significant part in how we map out our life story. VIAJIYU is therefore another platform through which to connect and share stories through a product all of us love, namely shoes. And since taking the road less traveled in a pair of high heels is almost impossible and certainly not practical… VIAJIYU to the rescue!

VIAJIYU is about #passion and #craftsmanship. Nicole started this brand out of pure passion not only for shoes but for catering to the needs of inspiring women and thus becoming part of their lives. The same passion that she has for her clients can be seen in the product itself - each pair of shoes is handmade in a Tuscan leather factory that respects the craft of shoemaking whilst also respecting the anatomy of the shoe so they fit…like a glove. The methods used are traditional and relate to an artisanal type of art that is threatened with extinction but kept alive by Nicole and her team of creators down in Tuscany. From the business plan to customer interaction to product creation, everything about VIAJIYU is luxury - not to be read as an unjustifiable price tag but as an experience that is both bespoke and wholly centered around the client’s happiness.

And trust me, it’s hard not to be happy when someone wants to help you create the perfect shoes to match your feet as well as your personality in almost any design, pattern, colour and fabric imaginable. All in the heart of Florence. So grab your pair of flats and wonder over to VIAJIYU (45R Borgo SS Apostoli, via Tornabuoni and Piazza Santa Trinita, Florence, Italy) to meet Nicole and convert to shoe feminism! As an alternative, browse their website for a taster (

From the Viajiyu facebook page 

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