Gorbachev’s Soviet style Mexican shoes from Perestroika, USSR

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20 years ago Calzado Canada, a shoe brand, ceased to exist, a Mexican shoe design, manufacturing and marketing company that began in Guadalajara. It was founded in 1940 by Salvador López Chávez and has become a huge success throughout the country and in Latin America.

It initially had 1 employee and 5 employees, but the company revolutionized Mexican footwear and was the first to allocate part of its budget to advertising and marketing. He wanted to know his buyers and what Mexicans like to do with his products.

Likewise, he established a large-scale production system, which had great influence in the country, in which a shoe goes through different stages and different workers carry out each part of the process. By the late 1950s there were over 200 Canadian distributors in the country and by the 1980s 16,000 pairs were being produced daily.

“It was a company that responded with a model for growth and a brilliant person who fully understood the situation of consumers,” says Dr. Patricia Arias, researcher at the University of Guadalajara.

He had a few models of shoes: “Exorcist”, “Vagabundo”, “Perestroika”, “Decathlon” sneakers, “Ringo” and “Bostonianos” shoes.

Perestroika shoes were particularly coveted for the brand. In the early 1990s, a complex historical moment was brewing in Europe. Perestroika was taking place in what was once the USSR, a reform aimed at liberalizing the economy.

Perestroika was an event that was supposed to be an opening for the Russians. Inspired by this concept, perestroika shoes were created by Calzado Canada, which were worker type shoes.

The first Mexican commercial shot in Russia on Red Square was made for these shoes. These ads were very popular in Mexico and still a fond memory for many Mexicans. In one advertisement, several people appeared outside St. Basil’s Cathedral dancing in these shoes and to Russian music, with one voice chanting “The party is universal” and “Shout for peace and freedom for your feet.”

In 1976, the founder passed away, leaving as heiress his daughter Sandra López Benavides, who kept Calzado Canada for two decades but eventually sold the business. It became the property of Coppell in 1998, and a few years later, on March 15, 2002, the company disappeared.


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