Fixed by Camel

Sandals - modified gladiators, have a horrible name, refuse to repeat

I finally made it to the cobbler near my workplace, bearing 2 pairs of sandals that were...shot. The first were a pair of Novacas (Joan), 3 years-old, with a broken strap. No dice on fixing that one. As expected.

Second pair were Steve Madden, with just a worn down bottom (same sandals pictured above).

And the following conversation went down:

"These just have worn soles. Just need the soles redone."

"Yeah, we can't do those?"

{knowing I've had bottoms redone before} "Really? You can't?"

"Time to go shopping!" {exhibits mock happiness for me}

{unhappiness! I want to fix what I have!} "But I really like these."

"Well, we can do them but it's going to be expensive. We'll have to build them up. It'll be $20."

"DONE. FINE. That's great. $20. Whatever. Please, yes, do it."

[Transaction] [End Scene]

Honestly, I was a little floored. I don't think he told me he couldn't do them initially because he didn't want to or wasn't confident he could. I think people set the precedent that they'd rather just buy a new pair. He expected me to be happy and want to buy a new pair.

I don't understand wanting to do that when I like what I have, and if I pay $20 (surely less than my next pair of sandals would cost) I'll have a pair I know I like and that fits. And I won't have to be the causation of a whole new set of sandals and materials to be made and make their way to me.

Things like the Fixers' Collective kind of fascinate me. Just putting that much importance and meaning into keeping something functional (or alternately functional) is a mindset I'd like to adopt more heavily in the future. Even more so when I run into this kind of perception disconnect.

I'll be picking them up on Monday.

* This post title comes from one of my favorite Sweet Pickles books, Fixed by Camel. Other favorites include Me Too Iguana and Goose Goofs Off.


  1. Yay, Novacas! I love their shoes/boots.

    I've had the same sort of experience at the shoe repair place near me -- they look at me weirdly when I bring in very worn, nearly dead shoes and ask them to fix them up. There's no (or little) for repairs within a disposable consumer culture, but it's still a little startling. I mean, wouldn't the shoe repair store want me to pay them to fix my shoes?

  2. I had a similar reaction from a tailor. It cost me $40 to get a vintage coat taken in and shortened and he wouldn't tell me the price at first; he just kept claiming it was "too expensive." It's possible that he (and your and Millie's cobbler) are used to really quick, cheap jobs (and count on doing a lot of them) because that is where the demand is. These tailors/cobblers may have been admonished in the past for charging more than a few bucks for repairs? I'd like to think that it's an overwhelming consumer culture, not the craftsmen, who are responsible for this phenomenon. Anyway, yeay for getting your shoes fixed.

  3. Yeah, I seriously doubt it's the craftspeople! I think it's the consumers' expectation. But I had the same response as Millie - really, you don't even want to give me the expensive option and let me figure out if I want to take it?

  4. Hi, just came across your blog and in particular this post inspired me so I thought to comment.

    Kudos for you for taking such good care of your shoes, and not treating them as disposable junk. You are a real inspiration and I hope more people in the world start to think like you! The fact that the cobbler assumed that you would be happy about throwing away those guys makes me sad. If shoes could talk, I'm sure they would see you as a savior and a kind owner who treats them with respect and nurses them to health! I myself almost personify my shoes as having feelings and their own special lives with all the exciting days they've spent with me. I want my shoes to have years of memories with me, not perish after a few nights out.

    I indeed do see the assumption that so many shoes and sandals are meant to be a summer fling, to be chucked with little emotion after. Like you mentioned in this post, if you really love your shoes and clothes, you'd take good care of them as if they were your old friends and hate to see them go in the trash.

    I was also thinking about the societal stereotype that supposedly women love and are emotionally attached their shoes. Shouldn't that mean extra care and respect for the loved objects rather than such a cavalier attitude towards them? I was actually surprised that so many more women don't feel this way. I guess culture has taught us to not really love and cherish what we have, but love the process of constant shopping for new ones.

    I know it has been a while since you posted, but hope those sandals are still doing well today as a testament to the fact that shoes can live a long and fulfilling life if properly respected and cared for!

    May all your shoes had long, prosperous lives in the future!


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