Saturday, August 25, 2018

Ditching my Capezio Hanami slippers

When I first became involved in ballet, back in the mid 1980s, Capezio was the brand name I knew best. My first shoes, tights, and dance belt were all Capezio. Now I almost feel like the name Capezio is a code for "stay away from these".

I loved my Capezio 4945 tights. They were soft and stretchy and comfortable. Poof! Gone, replaced by the inferior MT-11. I asked the owner of my favorite dancewear store if she knew where I could find some, and she told me that if she could get them she'd "buy a thousand of them". The Capezio website now shows "Ultra Soft" footed tights (10361M), but I have two pairs each of M. Stevens and Wear Moi tights and am not inclined to buy more for a while.

I tried and fell in love with the Capezio CA222 leggings. They were officially a women's style but they fit me quite well. Again, soft and stretchy and comfortable. Poof! Gone. So far gone that this blog is now Google's top hit when searching for them.

I started with Capezio Cobra shoes. Their failing was inconsistent sizing. Eventually the Cobra was replaced with the Capezio Romeo, which was an improvement in my view. Last November, when my big toe started protruding through my most recent pair of Romeos, I went to my local dance store to by replacements. They told me they didn't stock the Romeo anymore, and Capezio's replacement was the Hanami. In case you're wondering, "Hanami" is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. At first I thought the Hanami was an improvement over the Romeo. The fabric is very stretchy compared to my Romeos, which makes it conform to the foot really well, and the absence of a drawstring avoids having a knot digging into my instep. However I've become increasingly disenchanted with my canvas Hanami slippers.

The biggest problem is that the canvas of the Hanami is so stretchy the shoes twist on my feet during turns. It's common for me to need to readjust them after a relatively simple sequence of steps that includes turns. I've had the heel of a shoe pull off my foot several times, requiring me to stop and pull the heel back on before continuing, and once or twice a shoe has come completely off my foot. These problems are especially pronounced if it's humid in a studio with a synthetic (Marley) floor. Since there isn't a drawstring there's no way to tighten the shoe on the foot.

Also, on mine the elastics were pre-sewn on both ends. The elastics on my pair are far shorter than I'd have made them, and they're beginning to curl into a round shape rather than flat even though I always make sure they're laying flat against my foot. One of them pulled loose in the store when I was trying them on, which they sewed back on for me.

On one of my Hanamis, the edging around the upper has recently pulled loose from the shoe. I think it's indicative of a manufacturing defect, but the salesdroid I dealt with swore that the shoe was simply too badly worn. Frankly that's nonsense. I know how long my Romeos and Cobras have lasted, and I've always worn holes under my big toes long before any other part of the shoe has failed. These shoes are barely broken in and already they're literally coming apart at the seams.

One of my (female) classmates also bought Hanami slippers recently. She's had similar problems with the Hanamis, and decided to stop wearing them. She said her previous pair were also Romeos, but when she tried to buy a pair she couldn't find them anywhere. She said none of the usual online stores had Romeos in stock but she found a pair on eBay or some such. As of today Romeo slippers appear to be available in my size on both the Capezio and Discount Dance Supply websites, but several other sizes are listed at DDS as "Out of stock, unavailable for backorder." That implies to me that they're on their way to extinction too.

Last weekend I got so frustrated with the Hanamis I pulled them off and put on a pair of leather Romeos I bought years ago. They're bright white so I don't wear them very often and are in almost-new condition, but under the same conditions they stayed put on my feet and didn't twist. Today, after twisting off one of the Hanamis during a promenade I put on my old canvas Romeos, complete with the hole under the right big toe. These are worn enough that the suede pad under the forefoot is pretty much smooth, making them much more slippery and causing me a a bit of trouble at first. But wow, I can turn in them without having them twist on my feet.

So I've decided to ditch the Hanamis. To replace them I bought a pair of black canvas Grishko slippers in size 43E (obviously European sizing, rather than American). I haven't sewn the elastics in these yet, but that's now high on my to-do list. Good going, Capezio.

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