Volume 75, Number 23 | Oct. 26 - Nov. 01, 2005

A special Villager supplement.

Villager photo by Clayton Patterson

Zia Ziprin, right, and her daughter Aishling, and their pet dogs at Ziprin’s new shop, Girls Love Shoes, on Hester Street.

Vintage shoe store finds a toehold on Hester St.

By Christie Rizk

Girls Love Shoes is not your average shoe store — it’s a history book of shoes within four walls. A cozy, small shop on the Lower East Side, Girls Love Shoes is a vintage shoe store, showroom and archive. The store’s owner, Zia Ziprin, is a fashion designer by trade, but got involved in buying and selling vintage shoes by accident some years ago. She was visiting Massachusetts and stumbled upon a thrift store that was going out of business. She bought 50 pairs of shoes — their entire stock — and after selling some of them to her friends, and some on consignment, she got in touch with her sister, Dana, about opening a store, and Girls Love Shoes was born.

Ziprin opened the store at 85 Hester Street on Sept. 16. It already boasts an impressive collection of footwear — the floor holds shoes from the 1930s up until the 1990s, but the archive has shoes that date all the way back to the 1800s. Getting your hands on that many antique and precious pairs is not easy. A lot of them are brought in by shoe aficionados who, for various reasons, can no longer keep them. Ziprin takes them in gladly. “It’s like Christmas everyday,” she says. As for her customers, all kinds of people come to look and try on the shoes, from “Downtown trendies to Upper East Side ladies.” But most of her revenue comes from renting the shoes to various film production and fashion companies. Ziprin’s business recently rented several hundred pairs to “The Good Shepherd,” a movie being directed by Robert DeNiro and starring Angelina Jolie.

Although platform wedges are her personal passion — her favorite pair of shoes is a 1970s Yves St. Laurent disco platform sandal in gold and silver — there are pumps, mules and boots, as well as sandals of all kinds available in the store. Hung by their heels on metal cages on the walls, the shoes form a tapestry of color and texture; on the back wall are rich gold, silver and bronze; elsewhere are red and pink, green and blue, white, black and beige. Although the shoes are more stimulating when experienced through sight and touch, Ziprin is working on a Web site for the store, and also plans to begin selling the shoes on e-Bay in the near future.

Ziprin also plans to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding shoes for women in need all over the United States and, eventually, all over the world. She feels that all women should have warm, comfortable footwear that also has a bit of style. There are currently enough shoes in existence to go around the world six times when put end to end, so there is no reason all women should not be properly shod, Ziprin stated. Ziprin was also recently asked to join a nonprofit organization called Dress for Success, a New York-based charity group that clothes underprivileged women entering the workforce. She happily accepted, and has already donated several pairs of shoes. She looks forward to working with them to ensure that any woman who needs shoes gets them. Girls Love Shoes is open Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 7 p.m., and carries shoes in sizes 5 to 11.

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