Brinco Shoes: Air Jordans for the Migrant Set
Travel Blog • Jim Benning • 11.17.05 | 8:58 PM ET
Shoemakers have created all kinds of models for travelers, from rugged hiking boots to waterproof loafers, but they’ve yet to design anything specifically for the undocumented migrant market—until now. Inspired by the thousands of Mexicans and other Latin Americans who hike through cacti-strewn Southwestern deserts to enter the U.S. illegally each year, Argentine-born artist Judi Werthein has created Brinco shoes. Named for the Spanish verb “brincar,” which means “to jump”—as in, across the border—the high-top shoes have some unique attributes.
Reports the AP in USA Today:
A compass and flashlight dangle from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole.
They are red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. On the back ankle, a drawing of Mexico’s patron saint of migrants.
The shoes really aren’t being marketed to anyone. Only 1,000 of them have been made—most to be distributed free to migrants preparing to jump the border. They’re more of an artistic statement than a business venture, which also explains why a few pairs have found their way into an upscale boutique, priced at $215.
Shoe fun aside, the migrants’ journeys are deadly serious. Every year, hundreds die en route. As Werthein explained to the BBC: “If they go through the sierra, they walk eight hours. Their feet get hurt. There’s a lot of stones and there are snakes, tarantulas. So that’s why it is a little boot.”
In Arizona, where roads are few and far between, migrants can hike for days. For a moving account of one ill-fated journey, check out a report by Leslie Berestein, my better half, in the San Diego Union-Tribune. For a book-length narrative, Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway is a modern classic.