Should I Fix My Shoes?
July 6, 2008 12:41 AM   Subscribe

What am I doing to my shoes?

I have two pairs of Kenneth Cole Reaction loafer-type shoes -- the Key Note and another pair that is very similar in style. I bought them both at about the same time and, while they were wearble, wore them each 1-2 times a week.

Within about 4 months, the bottoms started to wear out a lot on both shoes, in various ways that made both unwearable. Almost all of the rubber came off of the bottom of one the shoe and started to wear through in points, and my little toe started wearing out the side of anoter -- not enough to make a hole, but enough to be noticeable.

I really like both these pairs of shoes -- they look great and I used to get compliments on them all the time. And while I'm sure they're not The Best Shoe You Can Buy, they weren't cheap -- $100 on Zappos. I haven't brought them in to a shoe-repair place yet (I'll go on Monday) but from calling around it looks like it could be about $60 to get them re-soled.

Other information that is probably worth mentioning: I have large (size 14 US), flat feet, and from the way I wear out cheap foamy flip-flops, it seems like I put an uneven amount of weight on my feet; the instep area always wears down first.

So, the question: is it worth it? Should I cut my losses and save up for a different pair of shoes that will last longer?

Recommendations for Seattle shoe-repair shops, shoe care tips, and shoe shopping tips for size 14 men's shoes (I buy my shoes at the Nordstrom Rack downtown and Zappos) are all welcome.
posted by rossination to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go bespoke, m' man. With size 14 hoofs I imagine you are a man of stature. Do yourself, your feet, and later your hips and knees a favour and get some hand tailored shoes with crafted support insoles. This will help with the heavy wearing on the soles making your shoes last longer, as well as assisting with proper body alignment. Hand made shoes tailored to ones own feet are wonderful and worth it.
posted by Kerasia at 1:09 AM on July 6, 2008

I cant vouch for Kenneth Cole (I've never owned any).. but I wanted to make the comment that: Not all $100 shoes are made the same. (in other words, just because you pay $100 for something, doesn't mean its high quality, OR that its going to last.)

I pay approx. $100 for Doc Martens. I typically only have 1 pair at a time, so I wear them every single day. On average a pair of Doc Martens will last me 2 to 3 years, depending on how much I'm on my feet each day.
posted by jmnugent at 1:44 AM on July 6, 2008

I have incredibly flat feet too, and I wear out my soles in weird ways all the time. I really don't think it's going to matter what quality shoes you buy, because they simply aren't made for the way you walk and the kind of pressure you put on them.

My parents have been bugging me about getting custom orthotics for years, claiming it "changed our lives!" Hyperbole aside, I think I'm finally going to do it - besides wearing out nice shoes too fast, the way I walk is going to screw up my back, hips and knees when I get older. I think they're about $300, but they last quite a while and it's probably a better investment than buying a $300 pair of shoes I'm just going to destroy.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:32 AM on July 6, 2008

Oh, uh, Kerasia basically said that, but the point I was going to make is that if you get the removable insoles, you probably don't need hand-tailored shoes.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:33 AM on July 6, 2008

The Zappos page you linked only specifies the width of that style as "D," and some of the problems you list (little toe wear, and rapid uneven wear of soling) are classic signs of improper fit. For a man with large feet, fit is possibly even more important than it is for someone of smaller stature, and perhaps even more difficult to achieve, due to the bell curve availability of sizes stocked by many retailers.

But, you've got to have shoes that fit properly, if they are to wear well. As a start, you should recognize that your feet change throughout your adult life, with gains and loss of weight, and changes in your health. If you were told at 19 or 20 that you were a size 14 D, and now you're a 30 year old man, with an additional 25 pounds of weight, you could well be a 14 1/2 E or EE. Or, you could actually be a 13 or 13 1/2 EE, who has been buying 14 D shoes trying to get the width you need in a greater variety of styles. You could even have feet that are measurably asymmetric, as a significant portion of the population does, including about 10% of people who have one foot more than a full shoe size larger than the other. You might also have an unusual ratio of arch length to foot length, as many people who think they have "flat feet" actually do. So, you need to visit a quality men's footwear store, where an experienced shoe fitter, who knows how to use a Brannock device, can accurately measure each of your feet. With accurate measurements in hand, you stand a much better chance of getting an accurate fit, if you can be fit properly in standard sizes.

If you are among the 5% or so of the population whose feet are so unusual that standard sizing can't accommodate their needs, even by buying sizes specific to individual feet, you may have no other choice than custom make, but you might be pleasantly surprised to find that just going to a 13 1/2 or 14 1/2 E or EE solves many of your wear problems.
posted by paulsc at 3:56 AM on July 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

borkingchikapa, agree. The way I see it (now, late on Sunday in my office drinking champagne sparkling chardy), orthotics are podiatry's gift to humanity along with fungus warnings. Indulge and enjoy their beneficence. I'm a thirder on OMG orthotics changed my life!

Rossination, all the advice here has been excellent. We take our feet for granted because, well, look down and there they are. Lately I have had a reoccurrence of heel pain in the mornings (PF) and it's reminded me that our feet take all the brunt of our living and aging. Lucky me has the option of procuring well-made, supportive stylish shoe that support my feet. Good podiatry and shoe options are a first-world indicator, me-thinks.

The others are right, bespoke is not the only way to go (oh but oh but oh). Shop around in some of them fancy shoes stores with proper sizing equipment and see what they say 'bout your feet.
posted by Kerasia at 5:02 AM on July 6, 2008

As a fellow Bigfoot, I sympathize. What was said above is very true -- not all shoes are equal, and price is a really imperfect guide to quality. Two pairs wearing out at 4 months after being worn only 1-2 times/week is really unacceptable in my book; I would view repairing them as throwing good money after bad.

I would instead suggest that you get your feet measured, perhaps consider orthotics (I don't have a need for them, so can't comment), and look for shoes that will hold up better to the way you will walk. I have had good luck with shoes from Ecco and Clark, for example, with pairs lasting a year or two of fairly heavy use. If you walk a lot, you might want to see if any of the walking shoes sold at places like REI will work for you -- a lot of them are much too casual for a business setting, but the quality is usually pretty good; however, larger sizes can be limited in a lot of models.

I have heard a lot of people saying good things about Dave Page, Cobbler, including here on AskMe, though I have not used his services myself.
posted by Forktine at 6:35 AM on July 6, 2008

The Nordstrom Rack is a great store to buy big sized shoes, so you're doing great in that regard.

There are those who like the aesthetics, but Kenneth Cole shoes are very poor quality for the price. If you want shoes you can keep, you essentially want shoes that are sewn together, not glued together.

Your best bet is to have at least two good pairs of shoes which you rotate. Someone suggested Eccos -- they can be homely (though I feel the same way about KCs, so the eye of the beholder and all that), but they're extremely comfortable, and they often pop up at the rack.

I'd also suggest you might consider visiting a shoe store where they know their stuff. Nordstrom, for example, or a walking shoe store.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:09 AM on July 6, 2008

Absolutely agree with YA about Kenneth Cole Reactions...I like the way a lot of them look, but they're not exactly top quality. That said, I've had my favorite denim blue Kenneth Coles repaired twice over the years because the leather uppers are fine even if the soles were crap.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:46 AM on July 6, 2008

I'll fourth about the orthotics, especially since you say you've got flat feet. Me too, totally flat since toddlerhood. Without orthotics my gait is quite atypical and I essentially grind down the soles of my shoe at the ball of my foot. (I also get plantar fasciitis that would otherwise cripple me without my orthotics.)

You say you're wearing down the instep, by which I'm imagining you mean the place where your arch would otherwise be? This is not a typical way that shoes wear out. I think this is a big red flag that you're pronating a lot, a lot, a LOT, and you really would benefit from orthotics. Go to a podiatrist, get checked out. Go, go, go.
posted by Sublimity at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2008

Dude, I feel your pain. I wear size 16 shoes, and Kenneth Cole is the only company that makes them that large!

The quality of the Reactions isn't as good as the Kenneth Cole New York line. You might want to try a pair of those. They're rare on zappos in big sizes, but I've been able to get 2 pairs of them.

Also, custom shoes are expensive. I would try a pair of Allen Edmonds before I went that route.
posted by unexpected at 9:15 AM on July 6, 2008

Thanks for the advice, all. I appreciate the confirmation that KC Reactions are not great quality (I had seen guys bitching about them on the Style Forum, but those are the same guys who call sub-$100 dress shirts "cheap"). As for bespoke shoes, they're probably out of my (student) budget right now, but it's a good thing to think about.

Re: orthotics -- I have to make an appointment with my podiatrist about an ingrown toenail, so maybe I'll bring in some unevenly-worn shoes and ask him/her about it then.
posted by rossination at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2008

get insoles buddy. and try Clarks. They're English shoes basically designed for white people with wide-ass feet. They're maybe not the most fashionable, but they're certainly stylish and could be worn with a suit or to the office etc. They last forever.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2008

if you are looking for a shoe repair place in downtown seattle, i have used ramuta's on stewart before. they do a great job and the price is ok for a re-sole, but they are so slow! if you're not in a hurry (2-3 weeks), i would recommend them.
posted by dityfleur at 8:45 PM on August 4, 2008

« Older Importing Excel spreadsheet data into to Word   |   What is the best Uninstaller software available? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.