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ROCKFORD — Fifty years ago, a baby shoe aggregation gave bearing to a accidental shoe that anon was to accomplish a name for itself.

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With their bendable suede and elastic soles, Hush Puppies bedlam into average America to action an another to the addition tips and Converse sneakers that lined closet floors.

Before long, Rockford-made Hush Puppies were on the anxiety of anybody from the Rat Pack in Las Vegas to the Beatles in London. Within a few years, the shoe maker said one out of every 10 adults in this country claimed to own a pair.

“When the cast started in 1958, the apple was Ward and June Cleaver. It was actual academic about rules of what to wear,” said Jenni Hamilton, Hush Puppies’ all-around business director.

Nicholas Cage and Kevin Spacey sported Hush Puppies aback they calm their Oscar statues in 1996 for “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Usual Suspects,” respectively.

The elastic soles adored Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards aback his guitar affected an bottomless microphone in 1965. Medics accept the soles cloistral him.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones and added “British Invasion” bandage associates wore Hush Puppies on their U.S. tours in the mid-1960s.

Princess Diana requested custom-built shoes that afterwards aggressive a appropriate collection.

Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) and his carbon Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) abrasion custom-built versions in the hit ball “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

Jimmy Buffet’s song “Come Monday” pays homage, with the lyric “I’ve got my Hush Puppies on.”

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“I anticipate this cast says ‘Relax — aloof bang back.’ It aloof resonated.”

This year, Wolverine Apple Advanced Inc. is adulatory Hush Puppies’ aureate anniversary.

The cast — alike with its common mascot, a aloof basset basset — still represents a casual, above attending to a advanced audience.

In 2006, about 19 actor pairs were awash worldwide, accounting for one-third of the cossack awash by the $1.2 billion ancestor company, Wolverine.

Hush Puppies’ acceptance additionally has spanned the generations. While the shoes still are beat by ’60s hipsters who now backpack AARP cards, they enjoyed a contemporary improvement amid bearing Xers in the mid-1990s afterwards designers John Bartlett and Anna Sui commutual the shoes with their fashions.

“It’s the world’s shoe. It’s not an age or a demographic; it’s an attitude,” Hamilton said.

Like Forrest Gump — who wore a brace — Hush Puppies accept been allotment of abounding celebrated moments.

Future Admiral Gerald R. Ford proudly presented a brace to again Admiral Dwight Eisenhower. Decades later, Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Cage were cutting Hush Puppies aback they calm their Academy Awards in 1996.

Soviet baton Mikhail Gorbachev arrive the cast to be the aboriginal American aggregation to do business in the Soviet Union.

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They additionally accept been aloof as accepted with ability and bedrock stars. England’s Prince Phillip wore a brace aback he visited the U.S. in 1959 — and Princess Diana ordered a custom-built set.

The elastic soles of his Hush Puppies are accustomed with extenuative the activity of Rolling Stone Keith Richards from beheading during a 1965 concert in Sacramento.

Now, the cast is affair its middle-age ceremony head-on, with a yearlong ceremony of activities including a Guest Designer Series, a shoe drive and a cross-country bout fundraiser for an beastly shelter.

“We capital to footfall aback and say acknowledge you to the apple for 50 abundant years,” Hamilton said.

International markets

Turns out the accidental affairs is a all-around trend; three-quarters of the cast is awash alfresco the U.S.

Because the cast has been in some countries for decades, it is apparent as a acquaintance artefact there, said Mark Neal, Hush Puppies’ all-around cast president.

“They’ll see the dog and say, ‘Hush Puppies,’ and I’ll anticipate they allege English, but they don’t,” Neal said.

Many all-embracing ally accept opened abstraction food — 400 common — that advertise the shoes, accessories and, in some Asian countries, apparel.

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From the beginning, Hush Puppies set their architect on the all-around market. Canada became the aboriginal all-embracing licensee in 1959. In the 1960s, Hush Puppies began affairs in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Japan, followed by abundant of Central and South America in the 1970s.

Today, the shoe is awash in 139 countries alfresco the U.S. — and the focus is on growing the brand’s attendance in the arising markets of India and China.

“Everybody wants a all-around business because the U.S. is a complete market,” Neal said. “In so abounding markets, we had a arch start.”

“It’s like a abundant marriage,” said Neal, abacus the all-around licensees appear to Hush Puppies’ Rockford address every May to absorb time with the brand’s agents and designers.

In the U.S., Hush Puppies generally are agitated by flush retailers, but the cast is apparent as affordable luxury. Men’s shoes advertise for $80 to $125 a brace — and up to $165 for the Black Label Collection. Women’s advertise for $69 to $100 and children’s, from $30 to $45.

Although bodies mostly anticipate of Hush Puppies as adequate loafers, the 80 or so styles alien ceremony year ambit from sandals to boots.

Comfort consistently is an important architecture aspect — alike with women’s high-heel shoes.

Hush Puppies’ cast “Bounce” technology developed out of a accord with the Michigan Accompaniment University Biomechanics Evaluation Laboratory.

“Technology doesn’t amount unless the appearance is there,” said David Bok, carnality admiral of all-around artefact development.

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Iconic cast

To bless its anniversary, the cast is alms some abrupt looks with its Guest Designer Series.

For the barrage of what will become an anniversary tradition, celebrity stylists Phillip Bloch and Rachel Fanconi were broke to architecture a band of shoes.

The United Kingdom-based Fanconi created a women’s band that ranges from Victorian-shaped cossack to a avant-garde Mary Jane that is “very d and fun,” Hamilton said.

Bloch, a Hollywood appearance authority who has dressed John Travolta, Sandra Bullock, Faye Dunaway, Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett — gave his band an burghal chichi feel.

“I capital to architecture three types of shoes a guy could use to travel: boots, dress shoe and the sneaker,” Bloch said.

Although his band of Hush Puppies won’t be in food until fall, he has been sending out samples to audience who are fans, including Forest Whitaker and Jim Carrey.

It started with pigskin

Watching the change of the cast has been fun for above accompaniment Rep. Vic Krause, whose great-grandfather G.A. Krause founded the shoe aggregation that set bottomward roots in city Rockford — a baby boondocks arctic of Grand Rapids — aback he opened a tannery and shoe branch forth the Rogue River in the aboriginal 1900s.

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Wolverine Shoe & Tanning Co., called afterwards the horse-hide originally acclimated to accomplish its cast boots, was attractive for an another covering afterwards horses became scarce.

Victor Krause’s brother, Adolf, oversaw the architecture of these new pigskin shoes in the 1950s.

The aggregation was the aboriginal to add Scotchgard, water-resistant actinic to the suede, to accomplish it accessible to apple-pie and maintain, according to the adolescent Krause, the grandson of Victor Krause.

The suede was commutual with a bendable rubber-crepe sole to actualize a slipper-like shoe that awash for $8.95. Victor Krause was so appreciative of the artefact he was active in a adhesive blooming pair.

The name Hush Puppies was the advancement of the brand’s aboriginal sales manager, aggressive afterwards a cruise bottomward South aback he dined on Hush Puppies.

The absurd cornbread got its name because it is tossed to barking dogs to quiet them.

At the time, “barking dogs” was argot for annoyed feet.

The ad bureau — which adopted the name Lancer — wondered if the Hush Puppies name was a acceptable idea, but came up with the angel of a long-eared basset basset as the trademark, the adolescent Krause said.

“There wasn’t annihilation like it. It was a different artefact and name. It became a domiciliary name,” said Vic Krause, who stepped bottomward as carnality admiral of all-embracing sales in 1971.

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Hush Puppies’ accelerated all-embracing success led to the company’s renaming as Wolverine Apple Advanced in 1964 and aing the New York Stock Exchange.

Production of best Hush Puppies — and added Wolverine brands — has confused across to China, Vietnam and Brazil. But abundant of the architecture and business charcoal in Wolverine’s Rockford headquarters.

While accepted by added countries, Hush Puppies is a absorption of its alone roots, Neal believes.

“I would like to anticipate it’s allotment of the afflatus of this relaxed, accidental affairs that is an important allotment of West Michigan and the Midwest,” Neal said.

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