Those are some grape-looking shoes you have on!
  • Those are some grape-looking shoes you have on!
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It’s turned out to be a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in San Diego. I’m strolling along Harbor Island, taking in the views with a friend. We’re stopped on the sidewalk just out front of the Sheraton Bay Tower when I see what must be the most unique set of skater shoes - and the wearer turns out to be a “wino” of sorts.

I do a double-take when I see Allie, a 53-year old continuing education teacher from North Park, dressed in all black and these truly stand-out shoes. They’re a rare issue set of DC Mantecas with cork and grape pattern paneling and purple suede detail. Purple shoe laces and dangling grape bunch charms complete the theme.

Her red hair aflame under the bright sun, Allie happens to be taking a work break from volunteering at a wine competition, the San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge. She doesn’t get to drink the wine until later, after she’s done serving a panel of professional judges.

Allie likes to stand out when she’s in uniform

Allie likes to stand out when she’s in uniform

She gives me the story of the shoes, “I had seen them in a picture on a friend’s Facebook page and I just got a little obsessed. And what do you do when you’re obsessed?”

She Google searched the image and tracked down a pair through an independent online seller. It felt like destiny when she found them in exactly her size (and only lightly used) for under $50.

Allie thought they would also be perfect for wine tasting with the girls. “Sometimes we all pile into a limo and go up to Temecula. We call ourselves the ‘princess posse’ and we wear tiaras. They always ask, ‘What are we celebrating today?’ And we say, ‘Oh, it’s Friday!’”

An owner of a variety of sneakers, she mentions another pair she found that were just her size and only $35 in the back sale section of Anthropology. She lights up describing the moment, “I looked up and there was a wine-colored pair of sneakers with beautiful stitching!”

After hearing that, I have to know if it’s only wine-themed sneakers she likes. Allie chuckles, “I think I like things that have a neat, artistic look — something unique.” She figures that in a setting like this, at least the accessories will help set her apart from the crowd.

“I think with these wine competitions, we have to dress so bland. But I thought, at least we can do something fun with the shoes!”

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