The Shoe Snob Blog

June 11, 2012

Written by , Posted in News

Why Is America Still So Far Behind

Why Is America Still So Far Behind
Goodyear welted Santoni – retailed at $975 5 years ago

I used to think that I knew so much about shoes, back when I was just a salesman at Nordstrom and had yet to embark on my European adventures. I won’t hesitate to say though that due to my passion for shoes, I did know more than my co-workers, which ultimately is quite sad when I think about it because looking back it at now I realize that I honestly did not know crap! And yet, I still feel today that this is the case for many salesmen, and men in general in America. Now don’t me wrong, in no way is this an attack towards my countrymen, but more just a concerned observation that I made when I was back home. And this observation affects me, because part of my goal in starting this blog was to help open up men’s eyes to the world of shoes outside of what they see in the shoe store and style magazines, as well as what salesmen tell them to be “the best”. I feel as if men in America are far more gullible (or maybe just less informed?) than your average European man, when it comes to purchasing clothes. I have heard with my own ears (in America) another salesmen telling some couple that a blake-stitched Magnanni shoe was ‘handmade’ and then win over the sale because of it. It baffles me to witness such things, knowing that people are constantly being fooled and will then think that their shoes are better than they really are. And I am sure that this happens everywhere….not just the States.

Why Is America Still So Far Behind
Current selling Santoni (blake-stitched, rubbish leather), retailing circa $550 (£370) – The problem with America

But why is America so far behind? This is what I wonder. Several factors come to mind when pondering this question. Does the currency conversion make it far too expensive to stock European made or good blake-stitched shoes (such as Gravati)? Is it because American men generally tend to care less about their appearance in respects to their European counterparts? Is is because many salesmen in America work on a commission based structure and will therefore tell you anything to close the deal? I don’t know, but it bothers me because I want America and American men to be seen as equals when it comes to the intelligence of sartorial execution, yet I know that currently they are not and are not even close for that matter. In my opinion, I blame the department stores. In America, this is where the majority of people go to shop and look to be educated. Yet if you go to one, you will see ill fitting suits (on salesmen and for sale) with minimal alterations being offered, poorly constructed shoes being held in high regard (think glued-sole Ferragamos) and coincidentally high prices attached to it all. It’s very backwards, yet it seems to not ever change. Prices inevitably go up, quality is clearly going down, and all of the consumers seem to think that their purchases were worth every penny.

Why Is America Still So Far Behind
Alden, good leather, better construction (goodyear welted), selling at $475 (£300) at Leather Soul – The solution to the problem

I was so happy when Leffot and Leather Soul opened their doors and started offering great shoes to American consumers. It paved the way for others to follow suit, especially since they have both been doing so well. I thought that it would mark a time for change, yet I don’t see it. Maybe I am just being impatient. But Nordstrom’s prize possession is still a blake-stitched that retails at $700 and uses very mediocre leather. Consumers see this as the holy grail of shoes there. But once, they actually took a chance and purchased some of their () goodyear welted range that retailed over $1000. They sold quite well but then never restocked that range again. It was an introduction and then subsequently a termination of good shoes in one fell swoop. And this makes me realize that we will be very lucky to ever see new goodyear welted shoes in the department stores in America, unless another American factory opens up and starts making them (which keeps the currency conversion nonexistent) or that the chain from production cost to retail price somehow becomes less greedy with its high mark-ups….

Why Is America Still So Far Behind
Allen Edmonds, Goodyear welted, retail price $325 (£210) – The ideal shoe in America for the price

It’s all very troubling for me as I do have a genuine concern, but hopefully as I continue to write more and more eyes will continue to be opened. Question the salesmen and don’t believe everything you hear. Where commission is involved, lies will be too….

Update: June 13th, 2012. Based on some of the commentary for this post, I feel that I need to reiterate what I was trying to get across. First off, I AM AMERICAN, just in case that you were confused. I was raised in America and then moved to Europe, therefore I have seen both sides with my own eyes, not just on TV or in magazines. The reason that I write this, is not to attack my fellow Americans, but to assess a situation that is prevalent and concerning to me. I have not become some European snob who looks down on Americans. I am still the same guy as I used to be in America, but am a whole lot more knowledgeable now (in sartorial terms) due to my time in Europe, where YES, MEN HERE DO KNOW MORE! This is not a critique or an offense, but rather just a simple matter of fact, one that I wish were not true, but one that is. This post is more a question, as to why Americans are not progressing as fast as I had hoped, and a reader named Darren so eloquently explained why he felt why in the comments section, which I believe was bang on. Now, saying that, please remember the title of the blog. I have opinions, and one might not always like them, and this is life….just like the guy who attacked me. It happens. So, if you happened to be offended by this post, then you were missing completely the point of it, of which I am sorry…..


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