By Ayanna Craig
The shuffling of feet dancing on the pavement in the busy streets of Zagreb, Croatia, located in southeastern Europe, puts one in-tune with the heart and soul of a Purger’s (a local Croatian) culture and style. The sound of sneakers squeaking and heels clicking with the scent of tobacco trailing behind the people during a typical day in the life of the city. When asked about the important role shoes play in everyday life, Monica, manager of the shoe store, Elite, and local citizen of Zagreb says, “I take pride in my shoes because shoes are held at very high standards as part of Croatian culture.” Shoes are more than just an item you place on your feet. Shoe’s represent a person’s confidence through the comfort and style they bring when making your way through the city.
In the center city of Zagreb, walking from place to place is the richest way to explore. Shoes then take on an important role as an actual means of transportation. Knowing where to find particular brands and styles of shoes as well as prices, can assist you in finding the right pair for the right occasion. This knowledge will serve as a guide to satisfy your feet’s needs and channel your inner Purger.
Choices are abundant since almost every other shop sells a variety of shoes within different price ranges. If you are on a budget and looking for shoes for the entire family, Svijet Obuće is the perfect place for you. Located in lower town, a block away from the main square, you will be greeted with flashy red-and-black 40-percent-off signs that will surely capture your attention. The store offers a variety of styles such as Crocs, sandals, heels and sneakers. On every wall of the store are signs with Nova Kolekcija, meaning new collection, printed in red and navy blue. With these new collections, prices still only range from $100-200kn. ($14-$30 U.S.D)
If you plan on dressing down for a run or simply for fun, Sneakers is the place for comfort and flair. Sneakers is located in lower town right next to the shop Bagghy. The thunderous, fast pace music invites you in and inspires you to make a purchase. The brick walls host the most popular tennis shoes such as Nike, Addidas, Asics, Colmar and Jordans. Located in the center of the store’s center is a rack displaying Nike slides and even flip-flops in multiple colors. Dark leather seating areas provide comfort as you try on potential buys. Sneakers is a spot for both men and women. You can generally expect to spend around $500kn to $1000kn. ($75-$150 U.S.D)
Brand name affordable shoes is the best way to describe Shoe Box. The narrow but deep layout of the store is like a runway that invites you to keep coming in. Plastered on the top of every wall are brand names including Jessica Simpson, BCBG, Jeffrey Campbell, Lucky Brand, Vince Camuto, Timberland and Polo. Expect bright smiles and great customer service as you enter the store. The trendy boxed shelving, Persian rugs and long overhead lamps make this location all the more dynamic. Prices vary significantly amongst brands, but it is certainly not a spot that will leave a hole in your wallet.
Ladies, if you’re looking to dress things up for an elegant night out, Paramount, located in lower town on Britanski Road is the place to go. From the store’s floor to ceiling windows, to the hand-made glass chandelier with long white tassels that spotlight the marble floor below and the coco leather ottomans, you will find stunning designs. Evenly placed across every mirrored wall you will find Italian made shoes such as Baldinini and Fabi. Low, slow-paced music matches the comforting setting of the store, while small groups of middle aged women are found flashing their handbags as they scan through the glass shelving. Expect to pay at least $600kn. ($90 U.S.D)
For men, there is nothing like a pair of shoes from Gallant that say you mean business. The peppered marble floors, round top windows and fresh scent of leather are some of the rich features of Gallant. Stretching from the ceiling is a traditional chandelier made of ivory. Gallant is located in Upper Town, on the corner hill of Radieva road. You will find Italian dress shoes predominantly for men, crafted from 100 percent full-grain, top-grain and genuine leather (suede). Expect to find shoppers in their mid-30s, along with a formal atmosphere.
Expressing your style and embodying the spirit of a Croat are each represented through shoes. Shoes influence how we get from place to place, how we are perceived, and ultimately our attitudes and interests. Whether planning a trip to Zagreb or from the area already, it is important to know what to expect from the shoe world, and the role shoes play altogether. Instead of driving or taking a train, walk the streets and treat your feet!