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So many people are completely oblivious to the value of a good shoe and the reason why buying good shoes is better for your health, your look and believe or not, also your wallet. Therefore I will enlighten you to clear up the mystery of why this is so. (To keep things clarified, I will say that a shoe $200 and below is a cheap shoe and anything above that is a good one)

Let’s first start off by imagining that all shoes are equal in brand value (no brand is better than the other or more famous). Taking this into account, what separates a more expensive shoe from a cheaper one are the differences between the quality of the construction and the quality of the leather, two fairly obvious things right? Apparently not! Therefore shoes with better leather and better construction will be more expensive by nature.

You may ask, “Why do these make such a big difference?” To explain, let’s start with the construction of the shoe. Most cheap shoes are made in large factories where the attention to detail is slim to none, probably just some team that checks the shoes at the end of the conveyor belt process to make sure that there are not any extreme blemishes. You usually find that most cheap shoes are made with rubber soles that are glued on, being that leather is more expensive a material than rubber. If they do use a leather, it is normally a very low quality leather or some hybrid, chemically processed leather that almost looks like plastic. Also, to glue a shoe’s sole on is a much easier and inexpensive way to attach a sole as opposed to the more traditional way of stitching it on which also requires a person manning the machine to guide the shoe.

More expensive shoes on the other hand are usually made in smaller factories where the attention to detail is much higher or at least if it is still a large factory there are many more people who are skilled in either working the machines (guiding shoes while stitched among other important processes) or the preparations of the leather i.e. not just straight conveyor belt style. Now what I won’t get into today because it will involve much more writing and even pictures is the differences between the constructions. There are 4 main one’s and that is Blake, Blake Rapid, Bologna and Goodyear-Welt. There are others but are far more rare, like the Norwegian stitch. Any good salesman will be able to explain the differences or you can wait until a future post of mine.

However, if you are much too impatient to wait, I will provide this for you. While I don’t agree with everything on this link that I am providing you, you may visit it to get a good idea of the different constructions.
I will tell you that most shoes that are well worth their price are the one’s that are goodyear-welted. Also leather sole stitched shoes can also be re-soled as opposed to their rubber soled and glued, cheap counterparts.

As for leathers, this is something that I am not completely an expert of (knowing whether this high-grade leather is better than that high-grade leather) but it is evident that the difference a good leather can provide is substantial. What you will find is that better leathers are usually softer and more supple (but not always) yet more durable than a cheap leather. They will handle bad weather much better and stay in shape and form much longer so long that you do not treat your shoes as if there were made of concrete and can withstand everything, for this is not true. Leather is a skin, just like yours! A higher grade leather will also breath better keeping your feet cooler and more well-balanced in temperature. Higher grade leathers can also be rejuvenated much easier and will hold a shine much longer. Most of the time they will also break-in more quickly allowing your shoe to adapt to your feet faster. But the most important thing that a good leather will do, is FEEL BETTER, and this is evident by just putting on a more expensive shoe.

To touch on the topic of better health I will let you know that most expensive shoes have better support. I don’t exactly know why this is, since it has to do with the way the last (wooden mold shoe is built around) is made and this I would think would not be a factor but yet it is. If you start to pay attention, you will see that most cheap shoes are made with almost flat lasts, which you can tell by seeing that there is virtually no difference in height between where the heel sits and the toes fall. You will then noticed that higher-end shoes have more arch support since they are made with lasts that are much more contoured (shaped closer to what are feet are like). This is better for your health because as any doctor will tell you, many people’s bodily problems are contributed to a lack of support in their feet.

As far as looks go, cheap shoes are just plain ugly and you can see it a mile away. A cheap leather is by no means elegant nor attractive and will show to those around you. A more expensive shoe is always noticed by it’s attention to detail, it’s good leather and it’s better construction. Also, nobody likes cheap people because it is just not respectable being cheap, especially when you are rich! To explain in terms of your wallet I will tell you that the average cheap shoe, being worn everyday for example, will last you anywhere from 3 months to a year depending how hard you are on them. A good shoe, on the contrary, will last you anywhere from 3 to 5 years depending on whether or not you would like to re-sole them, in which case they could last even longer. It does not take a mathematician to calculate the end cost divided by the amount of time they last you. Now, I know that not everyone is rich and can afford expensive shoes but I will tell you that if you can save up to do so it is a much more intelligent thing to do. To sum things up there is a quote by Gucci that rings so true and says, “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Remember this and live by it!!

5 thoughts on “What Makes A Shoe It’s Price”

  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that after a certain price point (perhaps anywhere from $300-$500), an increasing percentage of the cost of a shoe comes more from the fit and finish and attention to detail than the actual quality of construction. That isn't to say that a $1000 shoe isn't of higher quality than a $400 shoe; it is; but a much higher proportion of the cost of a shoe in that price range comes from fit and finish. For example, a fiddleback sole doesn't do much to make a shoe more durable or supportive, but it is laborious and adds to the price of a shoe. A high-end shoe will often have an antiqued or burnished finish which accounts for a large percentage of a shoe's cost as this is time consuming and must be applied by hand Also, a good shoe can last MUCH, MUCH longer than 3 to 5 years, which is what makes them such a worthwhile investment and in the case of Goodyear-welted shoes, I don't really think it's a choice to have them resoled – they're meant to be resoled. So with good care and periodic refurbishing/resoling, be it an Alden or Edward Green, a good shoe can easily last 15+ years.

  2. James – You make great points, all true. But I still believe that a $1000 generally will use better leather than a $400. Being that I own both, I can feel and see the difference. I have spilled red wine, twice, on my mid brown suede chukka's by Stefano Bemer and it just wiped right off and made no stain, I know that it would not have been the same story in some $400 Magnanni shoe or some like company. But yes, attention to detail is significantly higher in shoes with higher prices, as you said. Thanks for reading and for sharing!-Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

  3. P.S. When I stated that a good shoe can last 3-5 years, I just meant before they might need to be resoled. A good shoe can last a lifetime if one treats it right!-Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

  4. Yes, in general, a $1000 shoe will use better leather than a $400 shoe. What I'm saying is that the proportion of that price dedicated to just materials might be lower in the former than in the latter. For example, say hypothetically (and I really do mean hypothetically) that half of a $400 shoe's cost ($200) is dedicated to materials. If a shoe were to cost $1000, then perhaps only one-third of that money ($333) would go towards materials, and although it may be less proportionally, it is still greater than the former. And in the case of bespoke shoes, you can be damn well sure that the shoe maker has a reserve of the very best leathers for just such shoes.As for your suede chukkas, I suspect they didn't stain because not only was the leather of very high quality, the best way to take care of suede shoes is to (along with brushing) periodically apply water/stain repellent, which you probably did. I too cannot say what the outcome would be if that shoe had been a Magnanni or something similar.When you said "A good shoe, on the contrary, will last you anywhere from 3 to 5 years depending on whether or not you would like to re-sole them", it kind of sounded like "A good car, on the contrary, will last you anywhere from 6-12 months, depending on whether or not you would like to change it's oil" – like a person can sensibly choose NOT to resole his $1200 Edward Greens. But yes, about 3-5 years between resolings sounds correct. And a good shoe can indeed last a lifetime.

  5. James – I see what you are saying and I can agree with that. Funny enough, I did not actually protect my suede chukka's but Stefano claims that they are all protected anyway which truly must be the case considering my wine spillage. I am actually terrible when it comes to taking care of my suede's, but then again, I only wear them when I am 99% sure that it will not rain, which as you know, is hardly ever considering I live in sunny 'ol England! About the shoes lifespan, I can see where my wording may have been confusing. A good shoe can last a million years if you have 200 hundred shoes and where it only once a month! I guess it is all just subjective. But considering the way most people wear their shoes (everyday), yeah, I would say that 3-5 years is a good span between soles, so long as they don't rip the uppers! As always, thanks for reading and for sharing!-Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

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