Value added, or not

Lynn checks out this Good Morning America exposé, and raises some questions:

Based on the “shoe autopsy” it was easy to see that the $600 [Christian Louboutin] shoes are better quality than the $20 [Payless] shoes but are they better than $75 to $80 shoes? At what price do you start getting good quality shoes and at what price does the quality top out and the higher price become merely about the name?

Last fall I did a piece called “Where the price points are,” which linked back to this article at Manolo for the Big Girl. This time I quote a different section from the same article:

[C]heap shoes are a false economy, so we do not recommend cheap shoes. Ever.

We believe it is far more economical (and environmentally friendly, and ethical and stylish and …) to save and own two pairs of quality shoes that will outlive you than an entire closet of plastic and cardboard that will need replacing every year or two. You may feel free to disagree personally, but that is the stance of this blog and it’s not changing.

Oddly enough, I argued the same point back in 2002:

Confined to catalogs and specialty shops, neither of which is inclined to sell cheaply to their captive customers, I go to as little effort as possible to appear fashionable. The $19.99 pair of shoes, therefore, is an essential ingredient in the wardrobe. However, if you buy these things on a regular basis, you know there are hidden costs beyond twenty dollars and change. There is no real social stigma attached to them except in the snootiest circles, yet somehow you feel as though you have done a disservice to your feet. And three months later, when the shoes seem to be disintegrating with every step, you know it.

Then again, as a person of the male persuasion, I have never spent more than $120 on a pair of shoes, and if I spend that much, they’d better last a lot longer than three months.


  1. McGehee »

    5 May 2009 · 8:36 am

    Aside from cowboy boots, the most I can remember ever spending on shoes was for an $80 pair of Rockports. I still have them and could wear them if I chose.

    My feet though, they have a short attention span and are easily bored. They wanted something new.

  2. fillyjonk »

    5 May 2009 · 9:00 am

    The other thing about (at least some) of the more expensive shoes: they can be repaired when parts wear out. I’ve had the heel grips (whatever you call that rubber pad on the bottom of the heel) replaced; I’ve even had shoes resoled or straps repaired. If it’s a $100+ pair of shoes it’s worth the fifteen bucks or so – and the shoe is well enough made the repair “takes.”

    Also more expensive shoes seem not to “flatten out” as fast in the arch region, which is important to me.

    I’d never spend $600 on a pair of shoes (well, not in this life), but I’ll gladly spend between $100 and $150 if it’s a well-made pair that goes with a lot of my clothes. Most of my “dress shoes” are in the $125-$150 range.

  3. Lisa paul »

    5 May 2009 · 11:02 am

    I’m with McGee. I have a strange disconnect with shoes. I can happily pay large sums for really good running shoes or cowboy boots (because they support my feet), but have a hard time shelling out for “dress up” shoes.

    I suppose the solution would be to wear cowboy boots to the symphony.

  4. Tatyana »

    5 May 2009 · 2:05 pm

    Aw, now the mystery is solved; I always marveled at those fake cowgirls at symphony concerts – who are they? What motivates these people? Fake cowboys in the city is no puzzle, after the movie, but phony frontier women, with 2 carat wedding rings and in cowboy boots? I thought it’s a variation on my English composition teacher from college – now I know: not necessarily.

  5. McGehee »

    5 May 2009 · 3:12 pm

    Wait. People actually go to the symphony?

  6. CGHill »

    5 May 2009 · 4:00 pm

    Once upon a time I had a season ticket.

  7. Tatyana »

    5 May 2009 · 5:25 pm

    McG: they do, and they have lots of choices here, too:

  8. fillyjonk »

    5 May 2009 · 9:47 pm

    I’d go to the symphony if there was one within reasonable distance of me.

    (Not in cowgirl boots, though – I can’t wear ’em, they seem to be bad for my feet. Apparently there are some people for whom western-style boots are the ideal shoe, footwise, and others who suffer injury from wearing them.)

  9. McGehee »

    6 May 2009 · 9:41 am

    Well, technically cowgirl boots are a figment of some fashion marketer’s imagination. Aside from Martha Jane Canary — who almost certainly wore boots made for a man — there weren’t that many women who worked cattle on horseback in the Old West.

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