Nowadays, there are many more manufacturers of ballet shoes, but it is these brands that have an identity and a history with true masters behind them.
Flexible and customized: BLOCH pointe shoes
The Australian manufacturer has been making pointe shoes since the early 1930s. At the same time, they produce dancewear and everyday shoes, for example, ballet flats. The company name refers to the founder - Jacob Bloch, who was born in Lithuania and settled in Australia where he was sewing ballet shoes by hand. The shoemaker turned out to be talented and very able to work: it is known that in the 1950s Bloch personally created up to 50 pairs of pointe shoes a week. The demand for his creations went beyond Australia.
People preferred Bloch’s pointe shoes for their exceptional flexibility. It was achieved thanks to a special turnshoe technique: the shoemaker sewed the upper to the sole, and then turned it inside out. This resulted in a kind of inside out shoes - flexible and comfortable.
About 10 years ago, the manufacturing company improved their technology: they began to use thermal paste in the production of pointe shoes. To "break in" a pair of such pointe shoes, you just need to warm them up with a hairdryer. When exposed to high temperature, flexible thermal paste adjusts the box - the hard part that holds the toes - to the shape of the ballerina's foot. Thanks to this feature, these shoes don’t need any bending.
Ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theater predominantly dance in the BLOCH pointe shoes. Dancers of the Australian ballet and other companies around the world use these shoes too.
The bestseller of the brand is the Serenade pointe shoes, which are incredibly flexible and don’t require "breaking in".
Best selling: Capezio pointe shoes
The brand was founded by the Italian shoemaker Salvatore Capezio. He created his company in the 1880s. An individual approach became a distinguishing feature of these shoes. Capezio made a wooden last, taking into account all the physiological characteristics of the feet of the dancer he was making the shoes for. This approach, together with a flatter and more stable platform, made pointe shoes by the Italian master in demand among many ballet stars. For example, Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and American dancer Eleanor Powell took the stage wearing Capezio shoes. Today, the manufacturer also offers dancewear and bright stage accessories.
Their bestseller is the Capezio Glisse pointe shoes that were launched in 2003 and became the best-selling ballet shoes in history. They are distinguished by a streamlined sole, a slightly angled heel, a stable platform and elastic laces. The flesh pink color and satin exterior are the visual cues that help people around the globe recognize these shoes.
Pointe shoes for every taste and color: Freed of London
Another manufacturer from the 1930s: an Englishman Frederick Freed founded a shoe company in London and named it after himself. Together with his wife, who was a milliner, they had a workshop in the basement of Covent Garden, and before that had worked for another pointe shoe manufacturer, Gamba. Starting from 1937, their production was growing and changing locations. Over the decades, the company managed to hone their last production technology to almost perfection. Soon, Freed of London expanded footwear production and started to manufacture clothing. Chacott, a manufacturer of Chacott pointe shoes, appeared as a separate branch. Unlike Freed of London, these shoes had a shorter drying time.
Today, Freed of London supplies pointe shoes to ballet companies all over the world. And in 2018, the manufacturer, together with the Ballet Black organization, released a notable and sensational collection - pointe shoes in nude shades, including brown and bronze. The shoes are designed for dark-skinned and Asian ballet dancers so that they can easily choose pointe shoes to match their skin tone. Shoes by the London-based manufacturer are often chosen by artists of the Royal Theatre and the New York City Ballet, the Parisian Grand Opera and the Dutch National Ballet.
The bestseller of the brand is the classic Freed Pointe shoes, well known to the ballet professionals. The shoes are traditionally crafted by hand and decorated with the signature peach-colored satin.
Repetto pointe shoes, designed by a loving mother
The French ballet shoe company Repetto owes its name and concept to Rose Repetto. Her son did ballet, so she created shoes in which he would be comfortable dancing. For this first model, Rose used the cousu retourné technique — in other words, she sewed the insole inside out to improve cushioning for the feet. The first clients of the Repetto atelier were the artists of the Paris Opera Garnier.
In the 1960s, the Repetto factory was making not only pointe shoes but also ballet flats, in which Brigitte Bardot starred. Today, the ballet shoes of the French company are worn by both corps de ballet dancers and prima ballerinas of the best theaters.
The bestseller of the brand is the Gamba pointe shoes. There are eight models in this range, one of them was designed specifically for the American Ballet dancers.
Plastic and durable: Gaynor Minden pointe shoes
Compared to above manufacturers, the American brand Gaynor Minden is a newcomer to the market. The company has been making ballet shoes since 1993: it was then that the designer Eliza Minden developed her model of pointe shoes. She wanted to create shoes that were both durable and affordable. She approached the task like a real researcher: she opened more than one pair from leading manufacturers in order to thoroughly study what was inside. As a result, she patented an invention.
She combined the insole and the box into a one-piece construction made of elastomers. This flexible shoe can stretch and has a "memory" effect, after fitting it takes the shape of the foot and retains it. And it is almost impossible to break these pointe shoes!
These American ballet shoes have loyal admirers among the leading ballet dancers. For example, the Mariinsky dancers took the stage in these pointe shoes until recently. At the same time, Gaynor Minden shoes are often criticized for using artificial materials in their products. The foot doesn’t breathe in "plastic" pointe shoes - this is the main argument of opponents of Gaynor Minden.
The bestseller of the brand is Sleekfit pointe shoes with the best fit of the material on the sides and on the heel.