Unpublished: LoveJules Whistler.
Love Jules: Shoes.
By Ben Wannamaker
When I first met Joshua Blodans, he had three shoes with him. Two were rock-steadily, fashionably where they should be and the third was, more peculiarly, in his jacket’s left-hand pocket.
Even more peculiarly, at the time, I was tuning skis at the ski shop where he was looking for some cheap ex-demo’s: shopping with the shoe in his pocket all the while.
Now, I learned that Blodans is really proud of his girlfriend, Julia Vagelatos, who happens to be a local-renown-around-Whistler leather smith. With her self-proclaimed ‘man-hands’, she’s been doggedly tailoring hand etched belts, book bags, fanny packs and accessories with her trademark – nonchalantly throwback – Canadiana style. But now, as Blodans was so dutifully promoting at the ski shop that day: she’s making shoes.
And he got into it, absolutely the epitome of grassroots advertising that day. He was so excited to tell the world that he and Jules had happened to find a rubber boat sole cobbler that, indeed, still exists on this continent. “In New Hampshire, specifically,” he said. “We found an old family place where we wouldn’t have to buy in bulk, bulk, bulk.”
The solo shoe that I saw in Josh’s pocket that day was evergreen – it had loose laces and the appearance of a “Sperry style” boat shoe, something that the Dos Equis man would bronze on his yacht in. A pistol was etched into the tongue, and as it is with every piece of Love Jules wearable artwork: the precision was immaculate.
Together, Jules and Josh are a powerhouse couple. He’s an ex-accountant from the East coast (imagine Jerry Mcguire and Jerry Garcia had a Canadian kid) who does a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work, and Jules is the talent: A soft-spoken Nova Scotian art school graduate, she apprenticed for a leather smith to get tuition and simply fell in love with the medium.
“And right now, I find myself really gravitating towards cowboy culture, of which leather obviously plays a big part,” Jules tells me, during a trip to her studio. “But I’m really diggin’ the straight up ruthfulness of its history: shoot’em ups, train robberies, the gold rush, moonshine, brothels, moustaches and big-ass boots. It’s grimy, straight up bad-ass, and I like it.”
At the time of this article, Josh and Jules are road-tripping through the Southern states with a few pairs of those very shoes that Josh had in his pocket the day we met, but now they’re showing them off on a broader scale in: Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Oregon.
“So far, Josh & I each have a pair,” Jules says. “And I’ve made another six sample pairs to take down south. I just filled an order of five pairs for a boutique in Hong Kong, there’s a handful of custom orders to fill and a potentially great hush-hush collaboration on the horizon – so thirteen to date with, hopefully more to come.”
Feet Banks was given a pair too, complete with a beautifully etched portrait of himself shaving on the tongue.
“Cobblery like leather smithing is a dying art without a doubt,” Jules says. “I think a younger generation of visionary fashionistas are drawn to the glitz and glam of design without wanting to learn the skills involved in actually producing. For me personally, without knowing fabrication basics, those designs will always tend to be kind of surface level.”
Visit LoveJules.ca for more information about her locally made shoes and accessories.