Eat your heart out Imelda Marcos
It’s not every day that you get to fondle Jeremy Irons’s signed shoe. Or sniff one of the sneakers that Michael Cera wore when he recorded some of the songs for Juno. But Thursday was Torontoist’s lucky day, and we got to gawk at the footwear of the rich and Torontofamous.
Yeah, yeah, we know: how trifling can one assignment get? Well, rest assured, concerned readers: our seemingly inane excursion was a little more legit than we let on. In truth, these shoes—once belonging to local “celebs” of both actual and purported renown—were put on display at Ron White’s flagship store in the Manulife Centre, signalling the advent of the Canadian shoe retailer’s thirteenth annual Shoe Drive For the Homeless.
The concept of the shoe drive is pretty simple: you bring in your old shoes to any Ron White location, and they’ll clean up your scruffy kicks and pass them along to those who really need them. (And a few household names attend the kick-off and pose awkwardly with their signed, slightly scuffed shoes.)
“When you’re in the shoe business, you look at people’s feet as much as you look at their face,” says the namesake and CEO of Ron White. So, thirteen years ago, when White saw too many feet clad in insufficient winter footwear (“I was walking up Yonge St. and I saw a homeless man with his toes hanging out of his boots—literally”), he started encouraging his clients to bring in their old boots when they bought new ones. Fast-forward a few years, and a few of White’s more “notable” friends decided to lend their names—and used shoes—to promote the campaign.
“It’s about ten years ago that I asked for some support from two of my clients—Jeanne Beker and Dini Petty,” says White. “Since then we’ve had support from so many talented people—Kurt Browning, Brian Orser, Chantal Kreviazuk… even Tom Cochrane.” This year’s “supporters” include Olympic medallist and champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden (pictured above, at left, with White, who donated the shoes he wore on the podium), singer Suzie McNeil (who donated the red boots she wore when she sang at the Grey Cup), and designer David Dixon (who, perhaps, didn’t get the “winter shoe/boot” memo, but nevertheless donated a pair of signed, strappy, hot pink stilettos of his own design).
So, short story even shorter: if Adam Van Koeverden can part with the shoes he wore as flag bearer during the ’08 Olympics, surely you can part with a pair or two, too. Right?
Photos by David Topping/Torontoist.