Auburn Museum exhibits historic shoes from our Vintage Fashion Collection

by Seattle Goodwill, Seattle Goodwill
August 12, 2014

By Christine Palmer, Curator of the exhibit and volunteer at Seattle Goodwill’s Vintage Fashion Collection

My mother and I marvel at how she wore platform pumps in 1944, I wore them in a revival in 1974, and in 2014 young women are wearing them again. A new pair of shoes can make a woman feel great, and they last longer than a box of chocolates.

When you look at a pair of vintage shoes, you are also looking at a piece of someone’s past. The exhibit “Sole Obsession” at the White River Valley Museum in Auburn features several pairs of historic shoes from Seattle Goodwill’s Vintage Fashion Collection, and reveals that throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, women relished wearing attractive shoes. All shoes in the Auburn exhibit are “dressy”—there are no saddle shoes, hiking boots, or Uggs.

Each pair of shoes on display was carefully researched, and is shown with an interpretive information panel on the wall so visitors enjoy the history of the shoes on view. The staff of the museum has considered a women’s shoe exhibit for some time, after successful exhibits featuring women’s undergarments, hats, and swimwear, and is now proud to present this dazzling assemblage.

Vintage shoe collectors, who often shop at Seattle Goodwill stores, look for brand, model, condition, material, and color of the shoes—in addition they seek stylish footwear which represents a particular era. If you’re looking for the value of vintage shoes visit the websites of museums that have historic fashion collections to see what shoes they have acquired to give you an idea of what shoes are valuable—and what shoes are just old. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an excellent resource.

Sole Obsession” will be on display through November 9, 2014 and Museum admission is $5. The exhibit includes some of the Seattle Goodwill’s Vintage Fashion Collection historic shoes on display. Please visit the White River Valley Museum's website for more information.

Shoes in the exhibit also came from the White River Valley Museum’s vintage shoe collection, Seattle Children’s Hospital Bargain Boutique Historic Fashion Collection, Supercalifragilistic Vintage Fashion Show Collection, the Eastside Heritage Center, the Renton History Museum, and four private local collectors. 


Our mission is to provide quality, effective employment training and basic education to low-income individuals with significant barriers to economic opportunity.

Seattle Goodwill is a nonprofit organization founded in 1923. We currently operate 10 Job Training Centers, 23 retail stores and 35 donation sites in King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom and Kitsap counties. We employ 1,800 people and follow WA State compensation laws.


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