The Shoe Snob Blog

April 16, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

Shoe Sizing…..Yet Another Thing To Work Out

Photo Courtesy Of: Big In Japan

Most of you probably think that I am some kind of chord stuck on repeat, with all of the posts I have about my shoes this and my shoes that, but I’ll truly tell you, if ever you have been involved in the production of a new product, it takes a whole lot longer than one might imagine to get it up to scratch. Granted, some people may rush this out and have it out in no time, but if you are entering a market that is a bit saturated, you are going to want to make sure that your product differentiates itself the best that it can, so that it does not get lost in that sea of monotonous product, but rather stands out like the breath of fresh air that everyone needed. Now, in no way am I guaranteeing that my product line will be that breath of fresh air for you, but you can bet that I am doing my best to make sure that it is as close as possible in every which way: from style, to fit, to quality/price ratio etc. First and foremost, I had to get the style (patterns) and last shapes right, because inelegant and/or ugly shoes just won’t sell no matter what the case. And now that I have this pretty much sorted out, my next hurdle is to make sure that I get the sizing right, not only in how I label my sizes (making sure that my 10 does not fit like an 11), but also in how I offer my range i.e. 7UK-11UK.

The difficult thing about sizing is that most countries have their own way of calculating it, thus creating a bit of confusion for many consumers that are trying to make an international purchase. For example, if you go to Japan, a lot of their shoes are measured in centimeters. If you are American (or are also on the imperial system), you are going to have a tough time figuring out your size without having to measure your feet, and vice versa for people from Japan coming to the UK or US. Now this becomes an even bigger problem when calculating the width sizing as well, and then imagine having to buy online….it’s a mess, and can create a lot of confusion for both the customer and supplier. Every now and then, you can find quite an accurate chart (like the one below), that will differentiate for you what one size might convert to in another system, but even this means nothing in reality, because what it really boils down to is how the shoemaker/designer decided to label his stock lasts. For instance, my “UK7E” last (which would should equate to a US 8D, or about EU40.5) in reality, fits like a UK7EE (which should then equate to a US8E, and bump up to a 41). Now, I could keep my shoes labeled as UK7E and just have them be a shoe that runs a bit on the generous size, or label them a UK7EE, and be standard. Now, funny enough, while they do not look wide by any means, having that “EE” would deter many Americans from buying them, because in their mind, that signifies quite a wide fitting shoe, even though my shoes are not wide, just a bit generous.

So what I am doing now, in order to get this right, is having my shoes made up for me (keeping the way that they are now) in a 6.5E, but then also having them pretend as if my 7E is really a EE, duplicating it and then shaving off one width to make it an actual 7E. That way, I can compare and hopefully get an accurate account of what they really are. But someone who has a bit more experience in English fitting shoes told me that right now, they would compare my width to a C&J ‘EX’ fitting, which would be in between an E and an F. This is not exactly what I had in mind when making the shoes, but I know that this fitting is quite appreciated by the English people whom tend to have a broader forefoot, and high insteps. But that being, while deciding my sizes (and how to label them), I have to take into account, not just the English gentleman, but everyone else. So, as I continue to explain each predicament that I come across, I hope that you can now more easily understand why my range has yet to be released, even though I have been talking about it forever now…

  • ramsay

    Hey my friend…the color combination you chose for the boot is beautiful. Love the texture between the leather and the suede. The love you have for shoes for sure will set you apart from the rest and make you more successful than you are now. Just please, please stay away from designing anything like the first picture! Take care.

  • As a regular reader interested in the same problem, it’s nice to read your thoughts about it.

    I doubt there’s any solution to the width designation problem, for these seem to be relative to the last, anyway. Some companies may use some kind of internal standard, but this doesn’t help anyone unless it’s publicly available.

    Shoe sizes, in contrast, seem to be rather consistent, as long as one remembers they are related to foot length.

  • Ramsay – As always, I thank you for your kind words. They always a lot!

    Claus – Agreed. Thanks for the input.

    -Justin

  • Anonymous

    hi justin, looking forward to seeing your range of shoes out ..

    was wondering if all yor shoes wouldbe goodyear welted or if you would use blake stiching on some of them? im specifically interested in the plain toe penny loafer which i think looks really cool ..

    andy

  • You are so right about the sizing of shoes being confusing. I worked in a retail store some years ago and the owner decided to start selling shoes, we got in several different lines, some which had only European sizing on the box and some having both, I should mention the store is in Canada so most were somewhat unfamiliar with European sizing, anyhow we were always asked “what is a 38” or whatever, and would have to compare to other shoe boxes to refresh our memories, then realizing that sometimes it said a 38 was an 8 and sometimes a bit off by half a size or whatever. And then with the letters thrown in…. sheesh..
    Anyhow it would have been better if our boss had given us a staff meeting at the start to better familiarize us with the different sizes and codes when introducing shoes to such a store.
    Great blog, awesome footwear. Enjoyed.

  • Andy – It makes me happy to hear that you are eagerly awaiting my line….to answer your question though, in the beginning they will all be goodyear welted…but my shoes are not stiff, they are a more soft GY construction…

    Shoes – Thanks for sharing. I know the feeling! Glad that you enjoy the blog.

    -Justin

  • Laurence

    I just wish there was some consistency between manufacturers, and even within manufacturers ranges.

    Having previously been fitted as a 7.5G in the barker shop on Regent St, I bought some nice burgundy Barker ‘James” shoes on ebay, only to find them at least a half size, and maybe a full size too big.
    Back on ebay they go.

  • Laurence – I understand your feelings…what a shame about the ones you purchased…complete waste of time, effort and money for you…

    -Justin