Saturday, November 14, 2009

Designer shoes? Depends how much...

It's always pained me to spend good money on shoes. I'm really hard on my footwear, jamming my shoes into my handbag so I can change depending on my transport options, walking everywhere in New York, often in very high heels, and getting my heel tips caught in grates, drains and pavement cracks more often than I can count. I need shoes I can wear every day without weeping over the repair cost of a torn heel or broken strap.

Not only that, but over the years that I've worked in fashion, I've seen the accessory lines ramp up their prices to such a ludicrous level that they no longer have even a remote connection to cost, but reflect only what the consumer is prepared to pay for a logo, a label or a red sole. And, most of the time, I'm just not willing to jump on that bandwagon. I can admire a beautiful shoe, a wonderful piece of craftsmanship but I am not willing to fork out half a month's Manhattan rent on a pair of shoes that will be worn only a few times each month.

I've already noticed some lines have dropped their accessory prices during this recession, and I suspect that there may be a gradual adjustment back down to the realms of aspirational affordability over the next year.

I do hope so, because at the moment I rely on Zara (about once every three months they produce a shoe I die for, and which gets me stopped in the street; the rest of the time, no), vintage, sample & normal sales and, I admit it, the odd gift from designers to fill up my shoe wardrobe. I do have beautiful, expensive shoes in my possession: I just shopped for them wisely.

And, because I am so hard on my shoes, I spend a fortune on shoe trees, boot supports and cobblers' bills to keep them looking tip top.

Every new pair of shoes gets taken to the shoemender to have a very thin rubber non-slip sole glued to the bottom (bar satin evening shoes obviously). That way the shoe lasts much longer and there's less chance of me going arse over tit (an all too frequent occurrence, given my coordination skills). Because, if you live in the northern hemisphere, chance are that you will be wearing those shoes in the rain more times than you think and nothing ruins a good shoe more than a leather sole being repeatedly plunked down on rainy pavements.

So, even if you abuse your shoes as I do, with a little care they can last and last - just as long, in fact, as a pair of over priced boutique ones.