The Shoe Snob Blog

February 14, 2011

Written by , Posted in News

Cheap Shoes – Don’t Kid Yourself

One of the truest statements I ever heard before was from one of my high school friends who is currently a bed salesmen and tells his customers this: “There are two things that you should never go cheap on. One is your shoes and the other is your bed because if you are not using one you are using the other!” When I actually thought about it, he was dead on and I had never realized that. And now I cannot wait for the day that I can buy a memory foam mattress to have heavenly sleep on. The problem is that most other men don’t think like this, but they should.
(For statements made down below I have added pics of nice shoes vs. cheap shoes just to show how easy it is to tell the difference. That same difference is just as noticeable when they are on your feet!)

Top Of Page Picture Courtesy Of: Leffot
Above Top Row: Left – Cheap Shoe; Right – Gaziano & Girling
Above Bottom Row: Left – Cheap Shoe; Right – Barker Black
I never understood why most men are willing to drop thousands of dollars (or pounds or euros) on a suit but right after go to a shoe department and not want to spend more than 200 dollars. They then look like an oaf because the intelligent eye can see the contrast between a Zegna suit and a China-made Hugo Boss or some Kurt Geiger shoe. Yet, it is always like this and I cannot comprehend why? I want to understand the point in history where it came to be that most men decided that shoes were the part of the wardrobe to go cheap on. You don’t know how many times I have heard men say, “I would never spend 400 dollars on a pair of shoes,” scoffing as they say it. What’s funny is that most of those men were rich and could easily crap 400 dollars. And when I heard this I thought three things: 1. This guy is a cheap bastard, 2. He is a complete idiot and 3. He is sadly naive.

Above Top Row: Left – Cheap Shoe; Right – J.M. Weston
Above Bottom Row: Left – Cheap Shoe; Right – Lodger

As I have said before there is a health issue at hand when it comes to cheap shoes. Not being properly supported can affect your posture, your spinal alignment and can create feet problems like bone spurs. The only difference between wearing cheap vs. expensive clothes is how you will look. Chances are that if you are one of my regular readers, you don’t fall under this category but if you just happen to be visiting for the first time, ask yourself if this sounds like something that you would do. And if so, stop being cheap! People can see and smell it a mile away and it’s not attractive to anyone. If you have the money, invest it properly. And believe me when I tell you that a good pair of shoes will be one of the best investments that you will ever make. It may not do so in a monetary gain, but it certainly will in health, looks, and perception of yourself from others as well as from yourself.

You are only kidding yourself when you try to justify that shoes should not be something you spend wisely on.

  • If I had to guess I’d say it was probably around WWII (or shorty thereafter) when branding and advertising started to become more prevalent and savvy, shoe and clothing selection become more about the brand itself, and crafts people lost business/disappeared because of the influx of people away from city centers to suburbs…this is when I think men forgot how to shop for shoes.

  • Joker1404

    ahh that is an interesting insight Kid Couture. The whole branding has become a huge issue. Where a company like Hugo Boss can sell shoes for more money but made at half the quality of a brand like Allen Edmonds or Alden is a travesty. Not saying that AEs and Aldens are the pinnacle of shoes, but they are made to a much higher standard than Hugo Boss shoes.

    Justin I have only recently started down the path of nice shoes, but it has made a huge difference. When I go back to my lower quality shoes (terrible weather outside) I notice a difference. Its a great investment to get a legitimately well made pair of shoes for looks and health. Also wasn’t there a famous quote regarding how a man can wear a lessor quality suit, but if he has the details (tie, belt, shoes, accessories) done right, it makes all the difference. Basically its easier to dress up a lower quality suit to look nicer than make low quality shoes look good.

  • Sikar

    There is somethingg to be said for distinguishing between “cheapness” and the style/sartorial elegance of a shoeness vs brand perception – having a big name does not immediately equate to long-lasting comfort despite having the right colour/patina/cut of shoe – I recently bought two pairs of Berlutis (my first outing with them) and my feet are not happy – maybe it will take a while longer to “break them in” but when I compare to a “cheaper” brand such as JM Weston and Santoni, I was comfortable wearing those by the 3rd outing as these had softened up. Of course I am disappointed having splashed so much more for shoes that I am yet to wear comfotably. After this experience, whenever I see the shoes posted here, they first thing that comes to mind (for myself personally) is – “But will they be comfortabe”?

  • Hi Sikar, your experience with the your new purchase might be a case of just wearing in the leather a bit. However, if they are really uncomfortable then probably the fit of the chosen last is not ideal for your feet.

    Also, while Berluti is not at all a bad shoe, it is certainly also affected by the big brand marketing hype. There are better shoes out there for less money. Berluti belongs to the LVMH group and as such is factoring into its retail prices their huge global marketing, the flag-ship stores in the most expensive places etc etc.

    @Justin: Thank you for this post. A pleasure to read. I always like your comparisons. Seen side by side it is always so obvious and sadly escapes many an eye when not directly compared…

  • SIkar

    I thought that the shoes do need to be worn in more but alas I think you are right to say that probably the last is not right for my foot. Its very disappointing especially since I bought this as a year-end treat after a long period of lusting over them but being unable to afford them when I first saw the shoes. I tried to wear one of them again yesterday and by the afternoon I was limping already. I remember reading that climate also plays a role i.e. shoes bought in a colder climate do not necessarily fit the same once taken into much warmer climes because the feet swell more hence making the shoe feel much tighter. I still admire the aesthetics of both pairs but I really did buy the shoes to be worn in comfort and have yet to enjoy them as such. This is entirely my personal experience and by no means a rant against the brand – its just interesting when so many variables other than look and feel an important part in procuring men’s shoes.

  • KC – I could agree with that, as well as the introduction of big brands putting “handmade” on their shoes, even though they were never touched by hands except to be put into the boxes!

    Joker1404 – Yes indeed! Cheap shoes can be seen miles away, but in my opinion it is harder to spot cheaper suits. Better late then never on your path! Good shoes do make a huge difference.

    Sikar – I understand where you are coming from. Yes, big names and high quality doesn’t necessarily mean instant comfort. Fit and proper support equal comfort. So no matter how good the shoe is, if fit is off, comfort will never be there. Some of the shoes on my site might just be the most comfortable shoes ever and some of them might be completely uncomfortable, it really just depends on if the last fits your foot properly. Ferragamo’s fit my feet like a glove and are general comfortable but some people absolutely hate them in regards to comfort. Thanks for reading and commenting though!

    Reto – Thanks for answering for me since I am running a little late in my reply. Just noticed that the store is now open, I hope that you have a great opening weekend!! If you want send me some pics of your shop and the shoes that you carry and I will do a post for you. I have a decent Asia following, it might help.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  • Anonymous

    I would believe most are unwilling to spend on shoes because they feel that the shoes will be dirtied easily. Why spend thousands of dollars that will be in contact with the floor, dirt, puddle, mud etc. How about when someone step onto your shoes? Then your thousands of dollars will be ‘dirtied.’

    In fact, most of my friends say that I am crazy to spend so much money on a G&G or Church’s. To them, that is splurging and way too unnecessary.

  • Anonymous

    Oh and may I add that, shoes need a lot more caring than suits. For suits, you simply need to iron them, keep it dust free, and dry/wet wash them. But for shoes, you really need to polish them every now and then, else your thousand dollar investment will not be so shiny.

    And although I love good shoes and am willing to pay for them, my heart wrenches everytime when I see the sole completely scratched and used. Don’t you feel heart-pain?

    These could be few reasons why some men are unwilling to spend more on shoes.

  • Dear Anonymous – I can understand what you are talking about but I think that it is a stupid excuse. I have plenty of $600+ shoes and they are all in great condition. It’s all about being aware of your surroundings and making sure that if you happen to go out with them on a rainy day, you either have a pair of galoshes with you or an extra pair of shoes. One should never NOT buy something for fear of ruining it. What’s the point?

    I would feel heart pain, if I was to completely ruin my shoes, but leather is tough, especially on those $1000 shoes, and most things can be fixed. I know that you are just adding to the discussion of why men might not buy them, but I still think that men that think like this are simply cheating themselves or just making silly excuses!

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  • shoes are most important in our dress accessorize. It is vary important to use good looking shoes. Cheap shoes

  • Pete

    I’m a big fan of this blog and justin’s take on shoes, but I have to say as a shoe lover myself and a health professional, I don’t think higher quality shoes will have a significant impact on a person’s “health”. Things like poor spinal alignment etc are usually matters of a person’s biomechanics and gait pattern and the difference between “cheap” and high end shoes will have little to no difference on this part. Unless we are referring to bespoke shoes. People who are suffering from such conditions would benefit more from orthotics and possibly a trip to their chiropractor/physical-therapist. Personally I buy higher end shoes simply because they are better quality, look better and like someone already mentioned, cheap shoes just stand out like a sore thumb especially if everything else is done right.

  • Pete – Thank you for the kind words. When I use the word “health” i mean overall well-being, which includes foot problems. Lack of support or cheap shoes can lead to many things like heel spurs, plantar fasciitis and I have only heard from others that it can hurt the back alignment, but I am no expert in that regard…maybe I was being sold!

    Thanks for sharing nonetheless…I am pleased to know that you enjoy the blog!

    -Justin