Whether it is a humble, durable brogue or something exquisite and handmade from Italy, a person’s choice of shoe says a lot about the wearer.
But what of those who take advantage of a hollowed out heel to stash away something secret?
Yes, smugglers, spies and villains will try anything to disguise their true character and intentions – including the cunning customisation of plain mens shoes.
One of the oldest tricks in the book, in 1951 three people were caught red handed trying to smuggle $1,500,000 worth of diamonds into New York from Europe. The diamonds were hidden in the heels of their shoes.
Dustin Hoffman falls into all kinds of trouble when he’s unwittingly embroiled in the middle of an international conspiracy in the 1976 movie, Marathon Man. Not only is his evil nemesis a whizz at bad dentistry, but he also has a few crafty tricks up his sleeve including a mechanism that causes daggers to flick from his shoes when he’s angry.
In 2009, a Vietnamese man was passing through United States customs when officers noticed an unusual amount of bird’s mess on his shoes. When they lifted up his trousers, they discovered no less than 14 song birds tied to his socks. Word has it that when the man was taken for questioning – he ‘sang like a canary’!
The stuff of cold war legend, heel mounted transmitters were part of a constant struggle for intelligence superiority that sometimes bordered on the farcical. These days, radio transmitters hidden in shoes have found a new use in helping keep track of the ‘wandering elderly’.
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s will surely remember the Clark’s Pathfinder; the shoe that defined a generation. Not only did its specially moulded sole produce fine animal prints to keep pursuers guessing, but secreted in the heel of the shoe was a compass; just what every boy adventurer needed.