I’ve been asked this several times, and I actually answered it once in the OAQ:
Think of it as a broadening of scope. I grew up surrounded by lots of gorgeous legs, by dint of attending a Catholic high school during a period when skirt lengths were becoming, um, less conservative, and shoes are a logical extension of that interest. (So are underpants, I suppose, but those aren’t on display. Usually.) Besides, they always invite comment, even if it’s only “Yech, I wouldn’t wear that.”
But you perhaps weren’t asking me specifically; you might have been posting a grandly-general rhetorical question. Fortunately, there’s an answer for that, too:
When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot [a] Daily Express study stated that four out of every 10 women judge other women based on their shoes. It Bags had only a moment, and it’s not like there’s a Tumblr devoted to pants. What makes shoes so special?
Not that I have any real statistics to base this off of, but perhaps part of it is that shoes are so object-y (Colorful Adjective Usage: “It’s Summer and I’m Tired” Edition). Whether you want to invest in something special or are simply yearning for a quick fashion fix, a good, chunky thing is more satisfying than fabric. They stand on their own, they’re more 3D, and while other accessories have these qualities, none of them are quite as trophy or collectible-like. Advertising genius and fashion obsessee Cindy Gallop has hers showcased alongside an entire wall of her apartment, framed by twinkling lights. Jane Aldridge, of the popular fashion blog Sea of Shoes, owns around 85 pairs, and has said the fun in collecting comes from their art-like, sculptural quality. I have to agree my pair of Miu Mius sit on a shelf in my room, next to a foot-tall Stephen Jones hat and a rare early Warhol book.
Another possible explanation is that shoes are easy. As Browns founder and owner Joan Burstein once said, “Feet don’t have fat days or bad hair days, which is part of the reason women are so obsessed with them.” True! Plus, a good pair of shoes can improve a lazy or boring outfit in ways other accessories can’t.