The Shoe Snob Blog

February 12, 2013

Written by , Posted in News

Education Of Shoes Or Serious Lack Thereof

When I think of my blog, I see that I am generally one sided in what I put on it, in the sense that I focus on expensive shoes. I like to think that instead of referring to them as expensive, I think of them as high quality shoes. Granted, in defense to myself, I do like to find good quality shoes that are also at a very low (relatively speaking) price, like Ed Et Al, Berwick, Meermin Mallorca, DC Lewis among others for all of those (like myself!) that cannot afford the Lobbs, Greens or G&G’s. I like to think that while I know that not everyone can justify spending 200 on a pair of shoes that at least that I am doing my best to educate those that can and wish to aspire to. What I am getting at here is the fact that for me it is important to do my absolute best to educate men on fine footwear in the hopes that I can help them to learn the importance of them as a tool in maintaining one’s best appearance. And because of that fact, and it’s sincerity, it pains me to see other publications suggesting rubbish for the sake of a paycheck.

This above or that below?

When I was much younger, I used to read the style magazines in the hopes to learn something new. After doing this for several years and coming to the realization that I was not really learning much, I got fed up, which is one reason why I started this blog. Too often did I see the same brands, month after month, being pushed upon readers like a grandmother trying to feed her grandchildren. The more that I saw this, got older and more wiser, the more that I realized that these were obviously the brands that were paying them the heaviest in advertising revenue. You would have thought that the point of a style mag would be to educate people on new great things that come out year after year in the style industry. Why has Gaziano & Girling never been put into a style mag? Nor Carmina? Nor Septieme Largeur? Nor many of the others that I strive to find in order to show you what is really out there in this great big world of ours, as opposed the all of the brands that you see day after day in the high street or in the department stores….I don’t about you, but I don’t need a magazine to offer me to buy a shoe from a cheap brand that I already know of. I would hope that they would educate on the new comer that I had never heard of…..yet it’s rare that they ever do…..

This above or that below?

But it seems to be a revolving spiral. I feel that the bloggers that have no boss or reason to put one brand over another on their site are becoming bigger and bigger. And the bigger they get, and thus the more that people start reading them, the less that people turn to the mags for style/shoe education, especially as blogs are free to read. As magazines loose circulation, and therefore money, they turn to their other source of revenue: advertising. The cost of a page spread or product placement goes up and thus the reason that you see all of the big, major brands plastered everywhere and why at most you will see one page dedicated to a new brand. The more that people see that they aren’t discovering new things in the mags, the less they read, and the less they read the more the mags need to get money from the big brands and thus education of shoes/style get’s lost……… Basically, what I am saying is that I find it sad that the style mags out there aren’t doing what I feel that they should be doing: educating us, the people, on the latest and greatest that is available in the world of men’s style. Instead, they continuously bombard us with plastic-y, glued soles shoes from Dune and the likes, telling us to wear them with our suits, and saying that we will look like a gentleman if we do so……. What has the world come to???!!!!

Thanks to all of the bloggers and people on the style forums out there who are educating people for free and out of pure passion!

This above or that below?

  • Adam Jones

    You have either read my mind or the same copies of gq and esquire as I have.. And I’m slowly debating why I do it. Especially when I see a shoe special (seems great) then realised its in association with kurt Geiger and is just a kg catalogue full of glue a plastic shoes.

    This month in the whole shoe section there was a few pairs of lobb an jm weston…but that’s where it stopped. (There was church if you like the Prada styles ones) but it was rather uninspiring.

    I know everyone cannot afford Jeremy’s street brands (I cannot either without several months of saving) but why are they recommending a 190 pair of black kg shoes when for nearly the same price walk into cheaney or hit the net for something like herring.. It seems like these brands are relegated to the classifieds at the back. (Which i find is the best section now) that’s my little rant over I could go on.. As I did to my girlfriend and everyone I work with this week..

  • hello justin,
    what are those black meermin?? I don’t see them on their webpage,really nice!

  • Anthony

    I can only empathise, both with yourself and the previous commenter. It’s actually an issue I’ve been chewing over myself for a while now.

    I’ve worn poor quality shoes in the past, but they’ve been cheap shoes, stop-gaps bought because I don’t have much money on hand (yes, it’s probably a false economy, but there you go). The thing that really strikes me is the fact that there are an awful lot of very expensive shoes on the market right now that are objectively of terrible quality. Most of these are associated with designer brands.

    Go to a mid-level department store and you can easily drop 199 on a pair of shoes with rubber soles, glued construction, no lining and uppers that feel like they’re made out of reinforced cardboard. It’s crazy. Head off to one of the major boutiques and you can spend twice as much on something that’s qualitatively every bit as bad. Even those brands that seem to do other things well – decent quality suits, ties etc – routinely offer horrible quality shoes.

    My feeling is that if you’re going to buy some formal shoes, the best thing you can do is to buy shoes that are made by a shoe company, rather than a fashion house. You can get an entry-level pair of Barker’s in a sale for under 100 and they’ll be better quality than most of what’s on offer from the designer brands. They last longer and they’ll look better than a 2-300 pair of cheap shoes ever will.

  • Alex B

    Nice post, Justin. I would also counsel some caution to my fellow blog readers, though: an increasing amount of what is written online is “inspired” (i.e. paid) content, masquerading as the impartial opinions of customers.

    StyleForum, for example, is not just a forum, it’s run by a company that specialises in this kind of business: pay them, and not only can you be a sponsor or associate vendor with your own stuff on the site, but “influential” members will start writing positively about your products to give you additional credibility.

    Similar tools using popular blogs, Facebook pages and the like, are the fastest growing part of the advertising industry.

    So I’d say don’t trust anything you read online, unless you’re able to go and shake the writer by the neck in person. Like you!

    I respect that, even though you have your own line now, you’re still talking about decent stuff that’s in your own products’ competing price range. A bit of integrity goes a long way. Sure, we can tell who your friends are (!), but your willingness to be fair and comprehensive with competing brands is unusual. I think it’s also a part of why your readers want you to succeed, and will buy your shoes. 😉

  • Anonymous

    I always assumed that what is in GQ etc is actually paid for.
    The story of style forum is sadder since I belive it was once much less monetised than today. At least it was it seemed to me some 5 years ago. Or maybe I was just more naive

  • Alex B

    To be fair, there are plenty of people writing what they really thing on SF. It’s just you don’t always know the difference. Oh, and criticism of paying sponsors, or pointing out a better deal elsewhere, is not really tolerated.

    Anyway, the answer to all of that is keep posting yourself, and say what you really think!

  • Moi

    Hey Justin, nice piece.

    Between you and me, I would go with the first pair of shoes in your comparison every time as those examples are sooooooooo much more classy ;-P

    I, like you dont need a style magazine to tell me what shoes to buy nowadays. I have in the past bought a lot of awful shoes which boggles ones mind when I think back on some of the atrocities that Ive bought because it looked good in a fashion magazine but when you put them on at home, they look exactly like those examples you gave.

    I have given up reading the GQs, Arena.etc a long time ago and being a bit more mature and moved away from buying shoes from the high street and fashion house and bought from proper shoe companies. Its not that I have lots of money to spend on high quality shoes but I believe that if you buy a well made product it should last you a very long time (providing you look after it). I have shoes which are over 17 years old and are still in good nic.

    I think when it comes to shoes, it really depends on ones own preference and your particular style and it doesnt mean that all the high end shoe makers would suit you, Ive tried G&G and JM Weston and they arent for me as I like certain designs and shape of the shoes.

    D

  • There is an issue here that so far has not really been addressed. That is that the vast majority of men do not have ready access to the shoes that you feature on your blog. (At least not here in the US). I live in Seattle and the only options I have for “good” shoes are limited to what is carried by Nordstrom at best. Shoes absolutely must be tried on before purchasing so unless I can travel to New York or Hawaii here in the states (Leffot and Leather Soul) I am relegated to buying “fashion brand” shoes. I drool over the shoes you feature on your blog but I’m not going to be able to get any soon unless I’m able to travel to NY or England or beyond (at which point I probably won’t be able to afford them anyway as I will have blown my budget on the travel cost alone)….sigh.

  • The more good content there is out there, the better it is.
    Of course, unless you sell a product, like you will do shortly, you have to advertise in order to make a living, because doing the research and writing a great piece of content takes time and knowledge.

    Of course, one must always be honest and objective, otherwise it’s not education but an advertorial.

  • Alex B

    Roger H, all you’re risking is return postage if you don’t like something. Take a leap on something you really like!

    Also, if you have a first pair or two that you’re really happy with from a major maker like C&J, then it will be much easier to get recommendations on sizing from other makers.

  • Roger H, I’ve worked with a few shoe companies that aren’t available in the US and had to order online. With both, they worked very closely with me on fit, even going so far as to asking for a trace of my foot with measurements. The fit I got with them are excellent.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you 100%. One of the great things about the blogosphere and forums like AAAC and styleforum is that it does educate the average consumer who is more interested learning about quality brands they’ve never heard of before, versus those that buy something because they saw it in GQ. I absolutely loathe flipping through a fashion magazine only to be inundated with ads from companies I dislike and who have the money to promote themselves. I’ll buy a pair of G&G, Carmina, Alfred Sargent, EG, Lobb or Alden any day of the week over some of these ‘other’ horrendous brands I see in fashion mags.

  • Adam Jones – I just figured that I would read your mind that day and write about it 😉

    Totolino85 – Those black Meermin, are not Meermin, they are Carmina

    Anthony – very true my friend…that is the other thing that pisses me off…expensive designer shoes that are poorly made, trying to pass off as a quality product!!

    Alex B – thanks for sharing…yes, the world is becoming quite dishonest in its information provided…very few things these days are truly unbiased and not swayed by third parties…

    thanks for the kind words..for me honesty is the most important..like you said, I can show my competitors all day long, as I don’t believe that it will affect me, because my supporters will still buy my stuff because either a. they like it or b. they like and want to support me….

    Anon – i don’t get on SF as much as I used to and yes, it has become quite a bit more monetized, but at the end of the day, I cannot blame them as the founders probably do SF full-time and therefore need to make a living from it…this is not necessarily in response to you as it is so much Alex above…but I just put it here…

    Alex B again – i have never noticed this type of stuff going on but like I said above, I really don’t get on it that often…that is too bad…a forum theoretically should be about free-speech so long are you are not harming anyone…people should have their own opinions right and be able to express them….

    I will always say what I really think, I simply cannot help myself…I don’t know how to lie really, I am terrible at it!!

    Moi – thanks for sharing Duncan!

    Roger – true but most online retailers have good return policies these days…so long as you try them on at home, you can make a return and/or exchange…

    Sven – very true…i will be advertising my own shoes…but on their own J.FitzPatrick blog and maybe only on occasion on The Shoe Snob….have to keep TSS about the people and what they want to see…

    Anon 2 – thanks for sharing!

    -Justin