New Year, New Shoe

New Years Eve Grapes Tradition in Spain New Years Eve Grapes Tradition in Spain
I wrote a little recently about how the holiday season, specifically Christmas, is a bit different in Barcelona. But New Years Eve here is remarkably similar to the States. They do have a national tradition involving eating 12 grapes, one at each stroke of midnight, but other than that charming and tasty addition, it’s still a night filled with revelry, drinking, and romance, like it was back home. I also have my own personal preferences, and obviously those haven’t changed…. lots of champagne (instead of the Spanish cava) to ring in the new year, and on New Year’s Day, I like to take stock of the year just past, and make a few personal goals for the upcoming. I don’t call them resolutions (I’ve never really wanted to go to the gym or on a diet, I quit smoking years ago, and gluten will be a part of my life til the day they bury me) but I do like to take mental stock. I think the optimist in me loves the New Year because it is all about hope for better things. We all dream of a clean slate, and for a minute, that new number at the end of the date seems to offer that. Of course, the reality is, we take everything with us into the new year. Sure, we can refocus ourselves, but what was there on December 31st—be it bad or good—is still with us on that next morning. The key remains the same— what we do with it. But to be fair to this very-human impulse of January first renewal, the start of a new calendar year is a fairly logical time to think about all of this “bigger picture” stuff. The end of yet one more trip around the sun is as good a reminder as any to keep working ourselves forward…and for pondering how to take what is already in our world—both our personal world and the world at large—and make it at least a bit better. Re-purposing and up-cycling are definitely fashion buzzwords right now...everyone, from artisans creating third world collectives to make bottlecap art, to high-end designers like Charlotte Bialas launching lines made exclusively from 1950’s textiles, is invoking that ideal. A vision of creation with the added caveat of conservation and ingenuity. I mention this because to me this trend echoes what is best in all this New Year, New You stuff—it involves looking at things differently, and changing your actions and your response to what already exists. I think with all the negativity in the world of late...especially looking at the politics in the States, for one not-so-shining example…that it is no surprise that yet again, fashion is echoing some larger trends and needs by showing how one can make new from the old. How to rise from the ash….or the trash. Re-invention is one area of the human condition in which I am fairly well-versed. Moving to Spain in mid-life gives you some familiarity with the concept, especially when your job offer falls through after you have already signed a five-year lease on your dream apartment. Anyway. When that happened, necessity mothered invention, as they say it does, and I used my book collection and wardrobe to start an eBay business. I didn’t know much about e-commerce at the time….but I used what I had. When looking back at my past year, it occured to me that was exactly what launching Respoke was like for me, too (minus the minor existential and financial crises). But truly, I didn’t know much about espadrilles when I started...but I knew scarves. And I knew about fashion. And I knew my audience. So again, I used what I had—and re-invented my own idea of what I can do. And now I believe I was also feeling that same impulse so many artists and creative folk are feeling in this moment—the urge to take the existing and exalt it a bit. See it with new eyes and give it new purpose. In my particular case, I also really wanted to make something FUN...and I hope I have done just that. As I look at my calendar for 2018, it isn’t exactly a clean slate. Not even close, actually. Presumably much like yours, it already has deadlines to meet and responsibilities to fulfill. My work with Respoke espadrilles will fill most of my hours and days and weeks to come. But just like with the shoes themselves, that doesn’t mean there won’t or can’t be a refreshing newness and beauty in what already is there. May your New Year be filled with both the fresh and the familiar, and may they join in unexpectedly magical ways. ~MT