They Don't Toe the Traditional Line, but Plastic Shoes Have Gained a Firm Foothold Anyway

updated 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Leave the Guccis and Ferragamos in the closet. When you're in a jam over the right shoes to wear, only Jellies will do.

Jellies are the latest in footwear. Made from molded plastics (polyvinyl chloride or nylon, to be exact), they are selling fast, particularly in such trendy hoof markets as Los Angeles and New York. Boutiques have reported sales of 100 pairs a week, while large department stores such as Bloomingdale's (where Jackie O is said to have bought a dozen pairs) rang up 10 times as many this past summer. Much of the cry is over the shoes' hues, which run to melon, lettuce and wild cherry. They average $15 to $20 a pop.

"They're a real fun shoe. Totally wonderful," says Catherine Trumpler of California's Kork-Ease, an importer of the shoes. Jellies (so named because of their Jell-O-like softness) do, however, have an Achilles' heel: They wear out relatively quickly. After five or six months of hard teenage use, the shoes tend to stretch out of shape. "This is a short-term shoe," says Bill Cathey, president of the Miller Shoe Company. Cathey also cautions that Jellies provide little support for the foot, and adds delicately, "They don't breathe like leather, which could cause the feet to sweat and have an odor." To counter the perspiration problem, most Jellies are sandals and cutouts. As a saleswoman in a Los Angeles shoe store puts it, "You have to have a cute foot to wear these shoes."

Plastic shoes have been around for at least two decades but never really caught on. However, lest one think they are again destined to become a mere footnote in fashion history, consider the fact that Brazil's Grendene factory, makers of the most popular brand, is turning out 200,000 pairs a day. Sounds like we're on a jelly roll.

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