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no one hand stitches an open channel sole blake construction…that has to be done by machine

There are probably more crap shoes in the world right now more than at any other point in history. And what’s even worse is that there are more people buying said crap shoes more than any other point in history too, keeping this sad trend alive. And I am not talking about cheaply made mass-produced Chinese stuff. I am talking about loads of brands claiming to be well made, ‘handmade’, ‘handcrafted’ etc and are peddling crap and simply lying to the customer, saying anything to get them to buy. And while the internet has helped in the common man discovering the gem in the rough of the world, it is also the cause of this grand scheme of passing off shit as gold. And the saddest part is that is that this occurrence is that it has caused other good brands to lower the quality of their shoes in order to stay alive

–1. Way too much toe spring

I simply don’t understand how anyone can be attracted to shoes that have insane amounts of toe spring. Or at least not have an alarm in their head go off saying, ‘wait, are these supposed to go up one inch into the air?’ No, they are not!!!† Feet are not shaped like that so it has always baffled me why lasts are shaped like that? I mean I know why and where it stems from. It comes from over elongated lasts as you have to have that toe spring or the person will trip over their own toes. But that should be a sure-fire†sign that the shoes are not well made. Lasts should not be over-elongated and no shoe should have more than a pencil’s thickness of toe spring. Anything that does is a cheap shoe and not worth what they are asking of it, especially if it is more than $200. Don’t buy shoes that claim to be well made that have a ton of toe spring. Do yourself that favor.

–2. The Pattern is disproportionate

A good pattern maker does not make a disproportionate pattern. Let me rephrase that: A person who understands the quality of shoes does not allow for their shoes to look disproportionate. The sad truth is that some factories will make whatever the client wants, even if it is a bad pattern because the client wants it like that. But this shows that the brand doesn’t have a clue about what makes a shoe nice, well made, of good quality etc. A vamp should never be 2 cms deep i.e. a straight or wing cap nearly hits the balmoral†line (bottom of the laces).† The side flaps of derby shoes/chukka boots should not overlap each other. More than 6 eyelets is just way too many. A cap should neither be too small or too big, proportionally to the length of the vamp. When something looks off, that’s because it is. Trust your gut. The shoe will be ugly, I promise.

–3. They have the word ‘handmade’ on them i.e. on the sock liner or logo

No respectable shoemaker needs to write that their actual handmade shoes are ‘handmade.’ The quality will speak for itself. Writing ‘handmade’ or ‘handcrafted’ is just marketing. It is to sell an idea that is not really true. Shoes made in factories are NOT handmade nor handcrafted. Just because a person touches a pair of shoes does not make it hand anything. It can be a piece of shit or a really well-made pair of shoes. But it is still a factory produced shoes, put together by machines.† Brands that do this have huge profit margins as they are the ones really making something cheap and peddling it as toe of the line. Go buy the humble maker that claims a well-made shoe but doesn’t need to use the phrase ‘handmade’ to try and trick you.

–4. They claim to be older than 50 years old on all of their marketing i.e. Calzoleria Blah Blah since 1842

I never understood the stupidity of claiming your brand is 100 years old when you launched it the year before. It’s like they were saying, ‘oh my great great great grandfather was a shoe repairman in the 1800’s so I can say that my brand is from 1849.’ What a load of crap. And who cares. How old your brand is does not mean anything. You could have been selling shit shoes since 1849. Again, stuff like this is just another marketing gimmick attempted to get you to believe something that gives the allure of quality but really means nothing. Don’t believe it. Buy the shoes if it is well made, not because the so-called brand has years of history that don’t really exist.

–5. They don’t hug your foot anywhere

The point for most companies is to sell as much as you can. Well in shoes, you do this by making the most generic shaped lasts possible so that every type of foot can fit into. Ever notice, how really good makers like G&G, Corthay, Aubercy, Saint Crispins etc. have shoes that are very, almost extremely hugging i.e. shaped? Well that’s because our feet are actually contoured and not just fat blobs (well some people’s are) and in order to get comfort i.e. support, we need the shoes to hug our feet in the right places. You should feel your shoes like you feel a glove. Your train of thought should never be to ‘not feel your shoes.’ And cheap shoes make shoes from lasts that have no shape and allow for every foot to get into it. Those are bad shoes.† Don’t buy them. Get shoes that actually have shape and make your feet look good.


I would say that I hate to be so negative here, but in reality, I don’t hate to be. I feel that I need to be. I am tired of all of the crap that is being sold to people and people naievely falling for the lies. I feel like I have to be the Batman of the shoe industry and battle all of this crap that goes on.

People wake up and don’t buy expensive stuff that is really a cheap piece of crap passing off as gold. And to be quite frank, a lot of that is coming from Italy. Not all Italian stuff is good fyi. On the contrary, the majority of it is bad. The good is great, but the bad are the biggest tricksters of the world. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t buy names. Don’t by slogans. Don’t by dates of a brands’ so-called start. Don’t by shoes because they come from a certain country. Learn the tell tale signs of quality and look for those. Avoid all else!


Justin, ‘The Shoe Snob’

10 thoughts on “5 Signs Your Shoes Aren’t Worth What You Paid”

  1. actually very good article with good doses of humor, last sentence looked like spell check rewrote it. keep up the great work!

  2. Using ‘Handmade’ is now becoming a problem. I note one shoe brand in particular use this term ( makes all their shoes in China). But what is more worrying is that they exploit it when customers contact them about shoe defects. Shonky stitching, holes in the welt etc.. ‘because it’s handmade and hand welted… [add BS excuse here].

  3. tettitvo tettitre

    I have a question regarding paying premium for cemented construction. For instance let us consider the brand Baudoin and Lange. Would you say (starting at) 305‚ā¨ is worth paying for cemented construction?

    Best regards,

    1. depends really. If it is made in a big factory then no. But if each pair is made by hand and in a small workshop, then the labor cost prices are higher so you kind of have to. But to answer your question, no I would not pay that much for cemented construction, not personally

  4. Given this topic, I’m curious about your thoughts on Paul Evans. Made in Italy, marketed (etc.) in NYC, blake stitching, but pushing around $400.00 USD. I’ve always been torn on whether they represent a decent value or not.

  5. Juan Manuel Ballesteros y Allu

    The first sentence of the article is simply priceless! And the rest is brilliant. Thanks for being that Batman…
    Good job indeed!

  6. Another problem (and not just in the shoe industry) is that each country has its own set of rules/laws regarding handmade products or products “Made in XXX”.

    For example, AFAIK, the laws in Italy allow to write “handmade in Italy” as long as one of the steps of construction was made by hand, e.g. they just need to apply the patina by hand at the end of the construction to be able to write “tutto fato a mano”. This is really misleading for the average consumer (especially since the brand I’m thinking about often makes very nice shoes, even though overpriced, but certainly not handmade, apart from the very high-end range).

    Same goes for watches : you can have all the parts created and assembled in China, but if you do 5% of the assembling in Switzerland, you can write “Swiss Made” on the watch …

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