How long should Clarks shoes last?
December 20, 2013 7:09 PM   Subscribe

The shoes look fine but my husband says they are "dead" after only six months of daily wear. Is this normal?

My husband wears the same pair of Clarks shoes pretty much every day (like this, though they may not be the exact model). After about six months he claims they are "dead" - that the soles have lost their cushioning and support - and he needs to buy a new pair, even though they look perfectly fine. He's gone through 2 pairs this year already and has asked for a new pair for Christmas.

Has anyone else experienced this problem with Clarks? Is this kind of wear normal for $90 shoes? Can these types of shoes be resoled instead of constantly replacing the whole thing?

Being used to wearing women's shoes with no cushioning at all to speak of, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around "dead" shoes and having to re-buy the exact same shoes every 6 months!
posted by platinum to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been wearing mine for about a year (I rotate through others, but these are my main shoes). They are seriously worn out and I'd toss them, but I haven't found a pair I like better. You could resole them, but my cobbler told me I was better off buying a new pair last time I asked.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2013

(Women's walking shoes...can't be that different.)
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2013

He may just be high maintenance about his shoes. That's not intended to be offensive - my husband is also pretty high maintenance about certain things - but he also wears Clarks to work every day and his current pair has lasted a good two years so far. I just asked if he has noticed the cushioning wearing out and he said, "Not at all. Actually, I've felt like they're holding up to a remarkable degree."

Really, though, $90 is not a very expensive shoe in the grand scheme of things so if he thinks he needs a new pair, you know. Buy him some for Christmas.
posted by something something at 7:17 PM on December 20, 2013

All shoes lose some cushion with frequent wear. But Clarks are good shoes and should hold up on all other aspects. My recommendation is to get some nice inserts. It might change his life.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:18 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

It depends on a variety of factors, including how much he walks in them and how much his feet sweat. I used to walk to work in Florida in clarks sandals and my feet are a sweaty mess and I was wearing out a pair every four to six months or so. If you're really that doubtful, bring an old shoe to the shoe store and feel the insoles and compare them to a new pair. You can also check the tread pattern on the bottom.

When you get him a new pair, you might get him some Dr. Scholls inserts or something, as it might help them last a little longer.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Buy two pairs and ask him to rotate them every day. They will last longer.
posted by Anitanola at 7:20 PM on December 20, 2013 [27 favorites]

I've had some Clark's for exactly a year (Merry Christmas) wearing them daily with a fair bit of walking, and my only complaint is that the soles are a bit softer where my stride falls. Kinda sucks on the occasional gravel road, but no worse than some shoes are new.
posted by Benjy at 7:20 PM on December 20, 2013

Is he wearing the right size? Has he been professionally fitted at a real shoe store? If he needs a wide fit or a half size, he'll be wearing shoes out faster.
posted by Frowner at 7:21 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

How much time does he spend on his feet? For shoes I commute in (which are sturdier than trendy or dressy shoes) six months of daily wear is par for the course. They'll still be wearable after the six-month mark, but the soles will be totally worn out. My commute involves over 1.5 miles of walking, round trip; shoes I don't walk as much in last way way longer.

Rotating between pairs does seem to help a lot.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:26 PM on December 20, 2013

Buy two pairs and ask him to rotate them every day. They will last longer.

Definitely do this. If he wears them every single day, they'll never got completely dry of sweat, which has a not-so great effect after a while.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:30 PM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

And if he likes shoes with a lot of arch support, look into orthotic insoles. I have one pair that I rotate into nearly all of my shoes, and after ten months they're as sturdy and supportive as ever.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:31 PM on December 20, 2013

If his shoes are wearing out faster than what seems "normal" he might want to have a podiatrist or similar do a gait assessment; my shoes used to wear out really fast because of various issues with super collapsed arches and wonky knee issues, which were fixed by orthotics and physical therapy. Now my shoes last about 3x longer than they used to, even with everyday wear.
posted by elizardbits at 7:38 PM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, shoes worn every day will wear out pretty fast. Clarks are decent but not particularly high-end. I personally wouldn't expect a pair worn daily to last much longer than 6 months. It's been a while since I've had a pair of Clarks, but I'm sure I've never had a pair last a year, and they were always secondary shoes for me (worn far less than once a week). But then again, I too am probably pretty high maintenance with my shoes. I have five pair I rotate through during the week as work shoes, mostly Allen Edmonds.
posted by primethyme at 7:57 PM on December 20, 2013

I vote for inserts. Sounds like his shoes aren't really worn, just the insoles are compressed and no longer cushion-y. I buy these inexpensive insoles made from Croc-like foam. Sometimes I remove the old insole and replace it, sometimes I just put the new insole over the old one. Depends on the shoe. They work great.

Then again, maybe he just wants a shiny fresh pair.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:36 PM on December 20, 2013

I too have a pair of Clarks that have had six months of daily use, and they are getting kind of trashed. Sounds about right.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:39 PM on December 20, 2013

I can't comment on Clarks, however if he wants something in a similar style that will last over a year, I'd recommend looking at Keens. You can more than double the price if you like; however I've found that the shoes I wear every day in the winter last me two and a half years, and the sandals which I wear in the summer last me about as long.

Link to shoe examples on amazon. I am currently rocking the Bidwell slip-ons which are almost identical to his Clarks.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:42 PM on December 20, 2013

Many shoes use EVA in the midsoles to provide cushion; this material breaks down and loses its cushion, which could be a factor in your husband's situation. Some information on that phenomenon can be seen here.

For longer-lasting cushion and support, look for shoes with a polyurethane midsole.
posted by EKStickland at 10:33 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do an assload of walking, and the second* thing that goes in the shoes I buy is usually the sole-- the side that hits the pavement, not the foot. If that's intact and you're happy with the seams and finish, some cushioning inserts are the next step.

Seconding a consult with Dr. Scholls. He doesn't take insurance, and his fee doesn't count towards your annual deductible. On the good side, his rates are reasonable and he takes walk-ins. He only takes walk-ins, now that I think about it.

*The first is laces. Breaking laces is my super-power.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:22 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Much to my wife's chagrin, I have a shoe destroying superpower so I don't think six months is unreasonable if he wears them every day. I generally have two pairs of work shoes (black and brown) that will roughly alternate depending on outfits and they never make it much past the one year mark.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:17 AM on December 21, 2013

I only wear Clarks shoes, because I apparently have oddly shaped feet that only Clarks shoes will fit. My current pair of work shoes are nearly 4 years old with no sign of needing to be thrown out.

In the UK at least, Clarks do a nice range of insoles that might help. If he's heavy on his shoes (this isn't a weight thing - my soles always wear in a particular fashion), some custom made leather insoles might help.

Or as someone else said, he might just like to change his shoes every six months. I'd quite likely do that if I could afford it.
posted by Solomon at 2:31 AM on December 21, 2013

elizardbits: "If his shoes are wearing out faster than what seems "normal" he might want to have a podiatrist or similar do a gait assessment; "

I felt like Meg Ryan when I wore my new fancy podiatrist-prescribed insoles* for the first time. I am now able to wear even old, "worn out" shoes that I had planned to throw out. Even if he doesn't have foot pain, your future shoe-buying budget could probably benefit from getting his gait analyzed.

For this Christmas, I'd go with a new pair of his favorite shoes, and then mention a podiatrist visit later on.

*Not quite orthotics, but definitely better than Dr. Scholl's or anything else I could find in a store.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:34 AM on December 21, 2013


That and absolutely rotate the shoes. More importantly, use shoe trees in them, every night. The trees help keep the shoe straight and let the upper relax properly without shrinking. All of the heat and moisture from your feet causes the upper to expand, when you take them off and let them cool and dry out, the upper will probably shrink. Trees in them help keep this in check.

Personally, I swear by Allen Edmonds brand shoes. They're WELL worth the money. That and their recrafting service, while likewise a bit pricey, returns the shoes to damn near BRAND NEW condition. I've got several pair that have been recrafted more than once.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:32 AM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, good shoes, properly fitted, stored (with shoe trees), and cared for will last a lifetime. Get some better shoes, if you don't want to spend the money you can find them on eBay
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:58 AM on December 21, 2013

Two pairs of shoes, each pair worn every other day, will generally last more than twice as long as one pair of shoes worn every day. As others have mentioned, this is because shoes don't have enough time overnight to fully dry out from the previous day's foot sweat -- so if you wear them every day, they will always be somewhat damp on the inside, which will greatly accelerate their disintegration. Letting them rest an extra 24 hours will ensure that they are fully dry in between wearings, and they will last much longer.

That, and if his problem is just that the insoles are getting smashed down and losing their cushion, there should be no reason why you can't just buy some new insoles at the drug store. They come in enough different types that he should be able to find one that he likes.

However, a new pair of moderately-priced shoes is a perfectly reasonable Christmas request. If you can afford it, get two so he can rotate 'em. If you can't, get one and then later see about refurbishing the old pair with some new insoles, to see if that works satisfactorily.
posted by Scientist at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is most definitely a wearing them every day thing. I know people have said that above already, but i really wanted to expand on that.

I buy almost entirely lightly-used or "looks new but from a thrift store" shoes. I rarely wear the same pair every day, or even every day in a row. I'll wear them at most, 3 times a week.

I lucked out and got a pair of clarks that looked like they had never been worn ever, had just had the tags pulled off and been tossed in a closet. No scuffs, inside looked brand new, etc. I wore them almost every other day since they were so comfortable, didn't seem to be wearing in at all.

Then i had to bug bomb my apartment(UGH) and had to bag up all my shoes with the fumigation strips, etc. I wore that one pair of boots every day for 3 weeks. They went from being at probably 75-80% integrity to like 30% in that time. The gluing around the edge is messing up, the structural integrity in general just seems squishy and broken down now. This was despite the fact that i made a point of oiling the leather and wiping them down regularly, and letting them dry out a few feet from the furnace vent any time they got wet at all.

A lot of my other boots i've had for a year or more, and they're just barely starting to wear out. Some of them i'd wear every day for short stretches, and every other day when the weather was bad out, etc. There's also everything from cheap tennis shoes to nicer shoes like the ones you've linked that i've had for several years with the same treatment.

It almost seems like time between wearing is a logarithmic thing when it comes to how quickly the shoes wear down. so every other day is double 3-4x a week, and every day is double or even triple of that.

That said, my dad was big on wearing the same boots every day and just replacing them. Shoes, too. He'd have the same pair of red wings for 3-4 years. You might want to just look in to spending $90 x2 for one pair of shoes that lasts a couple years rather than two $90 pairs of shoes that you can double or maybe triple the combined time out of...
posted by emptythought at 3:28 PM on December 21, 2013

Well you know people wear out their clothes at different rates. My husband wears out bedding - the only person I know who does this. I used to think it was most inconsiderate of him until his mum told me how often she had to replace his things even as a toddler - and how every morning the bed clothes would be in a frayed, twisted heap on the floor. His shoes are in pieces after 6 months. His trousers are splitting at the crotch after four, and the cuffs are frayed. He just wears things out. It's not solely about the quality of the garment, it's about the person wearing them too.

Maybe your husband is just hard on his shoes. He's telling you so, so why not believe him?
posted by glasseyes at 5:28 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can confirm that Clark's worn daily can easily break down in that time. It's happened to me on at least three pairs.
posted by hamandcheese at 7:43 PM on December 21, 2013

The trouble with Clarks is that they're too expensive to be cheap from a financial standpoint but they're still cheaply constructed. (Shoes that cost below ~$200 tend to be pretty cheaply put together, and really the threshold for well-made shoes is more like $350.) I personally would either not buy Clarks or resign myself to replacing them frequently. (It's such a shame, too - Clarks used to make really good shoes as recently as the early nineties - decent leather, robust construction, much more emphasis on walking shoes.)

I personally would go either cheaper or more expensive on the theory that $90 is a terrible price point for shoes - not costly enough to get you good quality, but not cheap enough that you feel good about destroying them either.

Mephisto makes a quite expensive version of this shoe. Otherwise, I personally would be checking out discount shoe stores - it's a pretty standard shoe shape and I would imagine that you could score one much cheaper that would probably last six months.
posted by Frowner at 5:39 PM on December 22, 2013

I agree with what Frowner said, and add that you can get nice shoes on ebay for about the same price as new, cheap shoes.

There's a few reasons to go this route:

1. people with fancy tastes don't wear their old shoes out before they want to buy new shoes. So, "used" shoes on ebay are often not as used as you'd expect (but still, buyer beware).
2. a bit of research (i recommend ) will help you learn how to find shoes that can be resoled, shoes that are good in different weather, and shoes that will last a long time.
3. classic shoes with leather and cork souls will conform to your foot, making them more comfortable over time instead of less.

This is all assuming that what he wants is dress shoes. If he needs something more casual, maybe find a pair of shoes from L L Bean that he likes? I believe they have a lifetime warranty on all their products, so even if he blows through them in a half year, he can get another set to replace them, maybe.
posted by rebent at 11:07 AM on December 26, 2013

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