Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Save Your Shoes!

Once upon a time I took up what I thought was a really good offer. Two pairs of shoes for £55, (that's about $90US) from a shop that looked like it was closing down - oh fool that I was!

Within literally 4 months, both were falling apart. I'd worn through the soles on one pair, the soles were coming away on the other, and I needed to spend more money to have something professional looking to wear on my feet to work.

And the shop is stil there, advertising it's "bargains".

It reminds me of a fictional character (by authorb Terry Pratchett) called Capt. Vimes and his theory of "socioeconomic unfairness".

It goes something like this:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
quote from "Men At Arms"*, a discworld novel.
*amazon affiliate link
So the next pair of shoes I bought were £110, which is the most I've ever spent on a pair, and I didn't even really like them that much. However, that was 15 months ago and they're still serviceable. Matter of fact, I'm wearing them right now.

I didn't buy them simply because they were more expensive though. I also looked into whether they were repairable, unlike the old pairs I bought. You see, with the older pairs, the uppers were glued to the soles which were plastic. When the glue came away on one pair, you couldn't really glue them back again because of the old glue and all the dirt. On the other pair, the plastic heels weren't solid, so you couldn't nail a new heel on.

The new pair are Timberland boots, and talking to a cobbler, you can get repair materials directly from Timberland to completely repair the sole with. Also, with them being manufactured in a more traditional way, the cobbler could repair them anyway without the need specifically for the Timberland kit, and this is what I had done 3 months ago, for the princely sum of £20. All in all, a much better deal than the cheap and nasties I previously bought.

There's other things you can do to prolong the life of your shoes as well.

For example, I have some very nice cowboy boots that my wife spent a lot of money on for a Christmas present for me some years ago. Upon receipt of these I went straight to the cobblers again, and bought these: stick on soles.

Now when I wear through the stick on soles, I simply buy another set, remove the old stick ons and apply the new ones.

You can get something similar done for the heels as well. A cobbler can shave a bit off the heel and replace it with a metal wedge. When that wears through and falls off, you simply replace it.

If I hadn't done this, I would have worn out these boots years ago, but I am still using them regularly.

For my next pair of shoes, I might buy some of these ;) - Dr Marten's For Life

1 comment:

  1. The whole difference between cheap and frugal! I enjoy well made shoes for a matter of health as well, you only have one pair of feet. I spent $150 on my last pair of boots and they are still in great shapes three years later.


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