One woman’s “expensive” is another woman’s “investment,” I suppose. To get a better grip on these terms, I turn to Plumcake’s explanation of the hierarchy of the shoe biz:
“Inexpensive” (under $100) you have your lower-end department store shoes, Payless, Target, Wal-Mart; teetering on the upper level of inexpensive is Nine West, DSW etc. I do not say it is impossible to find an investment shoe at this level, but I have not come across one.
“Designer” ($100-300) will generally get you decently-made department store house brands and your entry-level luxury lines (Kate Spade, Tory Burch and Juicy Couture); there are some excellent values to be had in this range, particularly if you pay attention to construction and not the label. If all your shoes come from this category, pat yourself on the back, you’re doing well. Stuart Weitzman, Delman, and Cole Haan are reliable heavy hitters in this price range.
“Premium Designer” ($300-600) is where the committed shoe junkie lives. In this category your shoes will be crafted in Italy, France or Spain of excellent materials. Most of the designers who occupy the “Ultra Premium” category have a home base here including most non-runway shoes from Manolo, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo and Prada.
“Ultra Premium” (over $600) is the shoe as art form. These are often made of exotic skins or feathers that are no longer allowed to be collected (they get them from the archives of old feather houses); these shoes will be limited edition and usually available in boutique only.
Your mileage, of course, may vary. I suspect that there will be a certain amount of eye-rolling on my side of the gender divide; I can say only that most of my shoes these days cost right around $100.