Shoe Gazing

Jan Chipchase on show gazing in Future Perfect:

Shoe_gazingkampala_1“Walking streets from Tampere or Tokyo and beyond I’ve noticed that one of the first things that people look at when they check me out is my shoes. The result is the same whether the target of their gaze is a beat up pair of Pumas or brand new pair of Antas.

Shoe gazing is a form of sizing-up behaviour that is prevalent particularly (though not exclusively) amongst male youths and it involves four stages.

The initial recognition that occurs at a distance of 10 to 15 meters which is trying to figure out whether the person’s shoes are of sufficient interest to warrant further investigation. If the wearer’s shoes past muster then this is followed by a short period of looking elsewhere – it is after all rude to stare at someone coming towards you even if its at someones shoes. The third stage occurs in close proximity and involves a sequence of quick glances to check out shoe details. Occasionally there is a fourth stage that occurs once the person has walked by – it involves turning back to check out other aspects of what the person is wearing – by concentrating on the shoe  other related clothing details may have been missed, the assumption being that if the shoes were cool then the other gear they are wearing fits the same bracket. “

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