In a world of pastel pumps, penny loafers and Vans skateboarder shoes, china flats offered an exotic alternative. Imported from China, the shoe featured a simple black cloth mary jane top and a thin padded cotton insole on top of a flat plastic sole.
Orthopedically poor, but financially easy, china flats (also dubbed china doll shoes) were favored by the New Wave ladies. The male versions (also worn by women) were called Kung Fu shoes and featured a slip-on style much like men’s bedroom slippers.
As their appeal spread and the uniqueness waned, fans of the shoe scouted out more decorative versions from their Chinatown stores. The cotton cloth became velvet or satin, the plain black donned colorful embroidery of flowers or dragons. The more do-it-yourself creative types embellished their shoes with plastic fruit, flowers, or anything to cast a gaze towards your wayward feet.
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