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Walking in the US first lady's shoes

  Chinese exports may have hit a slump, but a shoe factory in Sichuan province has defied the trend, and it has the first lady of the United States to thank.

  Orders have been pouring in at Reoblan ever since Michelle Obama was seen wearing Bandolino Berry shoes at a public function at the beginning of the year.

  The Reoblan factory in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, makes the Berry shoes. It was doing good business, selling as many as 500,000 pairs in the second half of 2007 alone, even before Michelle Obama was seen wearing its shoes.

  But then the global financial crisis struck, reducing sales of everything from houses and cars to clothes and shoes.

  

Walking in the US first lady's shoes

 

  Berry shoes caught the imagination of fashionistas after coolspotters.com, a fashion website, posted a photograph of Michelle Obama. She was wearing a "J Crew dress with Bandolino women's Berry pumps" with the caption: "This sweet and tangy Berry is a thoroughly delicious treat."

  The US first lady has become a style icon. The media has been scrutinizing her choice of clothes and footwear ever since the US presidential election race heated up.

  Such has been the impact of her image in Berry shoes that Reoblan has "received orders for 300,000 pairs, mainly from the US market", said Wu Deguo, owner and general manger of the Chengdu factory.

  In fact, "we have received orders for Berry shoes every day of the week throughout spring; more than 100,000 pairs have been delivered in the past two months", Wu said.

  Berry classic pointed toe pumps with leather uppers were priced at $69 on Bandolino Berry's official website yesterday.

  It's not only Westerners who think Berry shoes are cool. Fashion conscious people in China too seem to like them.

  Huang Xiping, a 48-year-old housewife, said that at $69 a pair, the leather shoes were not expensive. But the Beijing resident added: "Though I'd be convinced about the quality and design of a foreign brand if the US first lady favored it, I buy stuff that suits my personality."

  Ken Zhong, a production expert with a global management consultation firm, said: "Shoes are essential necessities. That's why China-made low and medium-end shoes are selling well overseas despite the economic recession."

  Questions:

  1. Where is the Reoblan factory located?

  2. What website posted a photograph of Michelle Obama wearing Bandolino Berry shoes?

  3. How many pairs of Berry shoes have been delivered in the past two months?

  Answers:

  1. Chengdu, Sichuan province.

  2. coolspotters.com.

  3. 100,000.


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