Why don’t my shoes last?

If my shoes aren’t well-worn, there’s (usually) something wrong with them.

20130110-230124.jpgWell, except for these bad boys. They can take ANYTHING

Perhaps it’s all the stomping I do, but it doesn’t take too long before my shoes are well and truly scuffed, as I’m wobbling on uneven heels and just hoping the holes will stay away for another day. Being a pair of my shoes can’t be easy.

Rather than buy multiple pairs of shoes, I tend to wear one pair to death before grudgingly moving on to the next. Usually, this process can take about a year at the most. But lately, I’ve noticed my shoes wearing down quicker and quicker.

Is it just me, or are shoes just not made to last? It makes sense really – if they’re cheaply made, the prices will be down in the shops and people won’t really mind spending £2 on something they’ll chuck away in a matter of months.

Sound familiar? This is more or less exactly how I saw my shopping habits pre-Seamless pledge.

This is the reason shoes are exempt from my pledge – but I don’t really buy them often anymore. Even when I make a conscious decision to splash out a little more on a new pair of shoes, they just don’t seem to be able to handle my endless tramping around.

Then I’m back to square one, buying tacky shoes which won’t last two minutes because it’s not worth parting with more cash for a pair which won’t last much longer.

That said, there must be some reputable brands out there which aren’t going to fall apart at the drop of a hat? I got lucky with a pair of second-hand floral Doctor Martens on eBay a few months ago and they’re the best pair of shoes I think I’ve ever bought, but not quite work appropriate.

I’ve also got a battered pair of Converse which really should have given up by now – they’re a real pair of troopers, already scuffed when I bought from for five Euro at a flea market in Dortmund. But they’re still going strong!

What are your favourite shoes? When it comes to your shoe rack, is it a case of less is more, or do you need to stock up just so you can do some damage limitation by rotating which ones you wear?

20 thoughts on “Why don’t my shoes last?

  1. carysking says:

    I have a pair of 10 year old converse still going strong, yet the pair I bought a year ago started to fall apart within the first month! Times are a changing in shoe world and not for the better!

  2. Shona Stitches says:

    I do the same thing! I’ve tried buying more shoes so I won’t wear the same ones to death every single day, but it’s so hard to find ones that fit, are comfortable, and suit my style. It seems like every pair of heels these days has to have a huge platform and 4″ heels – ahhhhh! I have a pair of black 2″ pumps with nice, tapered heels and super comfy insoles that I only bought 4 months back but they’re already wearing out. Boo! I paid $60 for those things too! Anyway, just had to add in my “right on, girl!” and hope some lovely commenter will have some suggestions for us both.

  3. kristindownie says:

    new converse last me about 6 months and new Vans sneaks last maybe 3 before i put holes in the toes. i tend to look for vintage boots which can handle my heavy footed ways, Sperry topsiders, and mid-grade flats/heels as they get less wear. even so, i’m exactly the same in the philosophy about wearing my shoes until they are battered! more shoes make everything better as far as rotating them and evening out wear 🙂

  4. misty says:

    I to wear my shoes out quickly,and yes I buy cheap shoes often,and yes doc martens have lasted me the longest so far,both the boots that were new and the secondhand maryjanes that need some shoe glue.

  5. Sewing Princess says:

    My shoes (heels and tips) get damaged really easily on me. No matter the brand or price paid… I guess it has to do with how and where I walk (pebbles, cobblestone, etc.). I buy Italian or spanih shoes as far as possible (Frau, janet&janet, geox, pura lopez, Nero giardini) and on sale or from previous seasons. I tried a uk (?) brand called Nude but the quality is much lower. Must tell you that on shoe and leather quality I’m a bit picky 😉 never had a pair of doc martens in my life unfortunately…

  6. Laura Sinclair says:

    I’ve been wondering about this lately too. I spent $80 on a pair of flats from an allegedly decent brand. They turned out to be poorer quality than others I’ve bought from Kmart for $5.

    Very frustrating. I’d love to get a decent pair of everyday shoes and I’m not afraid of spending a bit of money on them, I just don’t know what to get. I don’t want to buy cheap, disposable crap, but I don’t want to buy expensive disposable crap either.

    Looking into Doc Martens now though…

  7. aviewintomyworld says:

    ah i totally concur, shoes definitely not made to last anymore, i’ve an old battered pair of converse that i still wear that date back to before nike buying the company. when something fits and i like it i have great difficulty in parting, even if clearly seen better days! my friend buys ethletics, look just like converse but fairtrade, organic etc, but he has to buy several pairs at a go, they don’t hold up to day in day out all day on your feet wear.

  8. Rhi says:

    I have noticed exactly the same thing. All of my cheap shoes fall apart after a few weeks/couple of months. I’ve started buying better quality, more expensive shoes and taking them to be re-heeled. The place I take them is a proper old-fashioned cobbler, who does them by hand, and he reckons that nowadays even more expensive shoes use cheap materials for the heels purposely so they wear out fast. Often the uppers themselves are perfectly fine, even on cheap shoes and you can re-heel them several times. I have a pair of nice leather brogues that I bought which became unusuable within a week as one side of the heel wore down (all my shoes seem to do this in exactly the same place, must be the way I walk). Took them to the cobbler, got them re-heeled, and they’ve lasted months and don’t look worn much at all. Obviously this only works on ‘proper’ shoes, not trainers, but it’s definitely worth the fiver or so it costs each time to save buying new pairs.

  9. Amanda says:

    I have noticed this too with ballet flats. I trash those suckers in no time at all. My shoes that have lasted the longest are my pricier leather ones (Docs and patent leather heels) and my many pairs of Converse. I love Cons so much I got a pair custom made for my wedding… And those are still going strong after being worn into the ground 😀

  10. Lisette says:

    I have so many cheap shoes that they take forever to wear out because I switch them around so often. My top lasting shoes, which I’ve finally started investing it are:
    1. Converse – if I only have one pair they last me about a year.
    2. Minnetonka Moccasins – Real leather is my best friend. My leather shoes last years and these are no different. I’ve had my pair of these for two years and they still look fairly new, despite wearing them while climbing a very muddy, wet hillside in the middle of the night once.
    3. Leather Boots – I bought my first pair this year and they’re holding up well. As long as you get good quality and take the time to condition or treat them properly they’re great. I bought a pair around $100 as my “testers” next time I’ll probably invest in a pair of Frye boots because they’re made in the USA and I trust that they’ll be made well.
    4. Aldos – Most Aldos shoes are real leather. I have a pair of heeled oxfords that again, I take the time to clean/condition and they’re doing well. I’d say their quality might be a bit less though since they’re not made here.

    So…make an investment, buy leather and treat them properly! They’ll last you for years.

  11. Heather Lou says:

    Shoes are tricky, but if you don’t splurge and buy nice leather shoes they will inevitably fall apart. For boots, I only buy vintage off ebay now. Anything from Brazil or Italy will last forever, as long as you resole them every few years.

  12. Molly says:

    The best/longest lasting shoes I’ve ever had are Birkenstocks from Germany, mostly because when the sole wear out you can just get them replaced. The close toed versions aren’t really my style, but my parents wore then as work shoes all the time when I was little (still do I’m sure). I need to look for some sturdy professional shoes sometime though, I’m just lazy right now.

  13. Eternal Magpie says:

    How about a pair of Dr Martens For Life? (http://www.drmartensforlife.com/) They’re made to last (i.e. like they used to be!), made in England, and repairable for a £20 fee. They don’t do all the brilliant floral styles, but for everyday basics they’d be brilliant! I used to wear a lot of 2nd hand DMs from Ebay (I liked to let someone else do the hard part of wearing them in for me!), and the older ones always seemed to last longer.

  14. Carly says:

    I’ve had good luck with shoes from Aldo. I also have a pair of Frye boots that I plan to own forever (I’ve had them about 3 years, and besides for getting the heels replaced they look perfect). I just invested in a pair of Fluevog shoes, that better last because I paid a fortune for them, but I’ve only had them for a month, so I guess I don’t know yet. I’m never surprised by how long my shoes last — the ones I paid a lot for hold up, the cheap ones fall apart, so I’ve learned to suck it up and pay a lot of money for quality.

  15. beth says:

    I have noticed that even mid-priced shoes are wearing out faster. In the past two years, I have made a conscience effort to purchase the highest quality of shoes that I am able to afford. My shoe purchases are much less frequent, but all these shoes still look wonderful (and are comfortable). I keep my eye out for sales and have on occasion gotten some good deals (ie. purchasing winter boots in the summer).

  16. carly says:

    I know it sounds really mainstream and boring, but toms. toms shoes really are really well made, the seams are all glued together strongly and they can take a few stints in the washing machine. mine have lasted for a good few years before a hole appeared in the toes (mainly because i’m lazy about cutting my nails!), and even then you can reinforce and recover them pretty easily (http://leahmiren.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/toms-recovered.html)
    but yeah, doc martens are the best for shoes that never wear out. i love mine so much- wish i could afford a pair of their heels!

  17. annette tirette says:

    I make sure to buy real leather and look at the quality, it shouldn’t be too thin or soft. I’ve also found a really good cobbler and take my winter boots in for new heels once they start to wear down, so they don’t get the chance to wear out. I also clean my shoes regularly and moisturize the leather from time to time.

  18. Penny says:

    I’ve had problems finding decent shoes that last lately too; but then, I’m out in the wilderness factor (out on a “Teachers Without Borders” gig) where the nearest place to get anything decent is a 9-hour drive (and that’s with no traffic) where “pavement” is a four-letter word so shoe soles get worn out or “tore up” in less than 3 months if you wear the same ones day in and day out. I even hauled it to the Outlet Mall and went to Nine West Outlet and got a pair on half-price sale but the soles were starting to get torn through by the rocky “pavement” after wearing them three times. I hauled it back up there and found some Clarks on BOGO sale which both have thicker soles, one is a high heel (but after accounting for the 1/2-inch platform, it’s really only a 2-1/2 inch heel) sandal and the other one is their sturdy “Mary Jane” so maybe let’s see if I can get a whole 3 months out of them. Mail ordering shoes is hard because you’re just guessing as to your size – when I make a mail-order mistake which would be more costly to ship back, I wind up giving them to my students and chalking it up as a loss. Basically because of the climate I have to have relatively rain and snow proof (but not weather-proof because even though it’s snowy and wet and gross it’s not actually all that COLD) shoes that I can clean almost every day because of the mud everywhere. So, preferably rubber or plastic, nothing leather or suede, nothing white or light-coloured, preferably closed-toe but I’ve discovered because of sizing problems I do best with slingbacks so I can adjust them to FIT in case they’re too big – rather than constantly buying shoes that feel like they’re going to fall off my feet if I have to do anything strenuous. Maybe it’s that in America shoes are made to be impractical in one way or another because the manufacturers assume that everyone drives everywhere? But that wouldn’t explain the fact that the same selection was to be had in Boston, New York City, Hartford and Philly. Plus which, as I recall, the selection wasn’t too much less SILLY in London except for the increased likelihood of them being waterproof. Suede is out. Leather is out because I can’t wash the mud and crap off them on a regular basis without ruining them. What’s left is synthetic plastic or rubber types. I feel like I have tons of shoes (not counting the winter snow boots I brought out here from Hartford when I came out here last year) just to find anything that fits, doesn’t hurt my feet, doesn’t slip and slide OFF all the time, stays ON, and that protects my feet from this terrain. Hiking boots or athletic shoes are OUT, they aren’t very math teacher-like or if I have to take someone to court, of course they’re out of the question then too.

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