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Just what IS the difference between a £25 pair of boots and a £250 pair? Can the higher priced pair really be that much better than the cheapy shoes? For some reason, there’s a big difference in this area between mens and womens shoes (probably something to do with the construction of ladies shoes) so today I’m focusing on menswear in this price v quality comparison. I’ve done my research and found out why some boots are worth so much more than others and that’s what I’d like to share with you this Tuesday Shoesday. If you’re looking for shoes reviews and guides, then better head over to shoeadviser.com. They provide the latest reviews and guides on different shoe categories to get you guided on your shoe shopping spree.
It’s easy to say that the quality of the shoes is simply better in the higher priced pair but in what way specifically? I focused my research on Joseph Cheaney & Sons, who are Britain’s oldest boot and shoemakers. They produce handmade footwear for Boden, Shackleton Company and Herring to name just a few, and the price is definitely at the upper end of the scale. So let’s have a look at this producer and find out what goes into a pair of their boots.
The first thing to note is that their footwear is still handmade. Okay, the product is made in a factory environment but it’s in Northampton, not China, and each stage of the process involves a real person handling the boots, not just a machine. In fact, each pair of boots goes through more than 200 hand-tooled processes and takes over eight weeks to ‘build’. When you hear the phrase ‘built to last’ this is probably what it means! Just to be clear, this isn’t a promotional blog post for Cheaney and Sons – although I’d be doing a good job if it was! – I’m just using them as an example of a traditional bootmaker that is still creating handmade items here in the UK and comparing them to the cheaper end of the footwear market.
All I know for sure is that my husband’s shoes last years longer if they’re £100+ leather shoes from Clarks or Boden, or if they’re £300+ handmade boots from Shackleton. But when he wears supermarket or high street shoes, it’s barely a matter of months before they are worn through with holes that let in the rain, and have cracked, broken or flapping soles. So it must be the production method that make all the difference, right? That, and the quality of the materials too.
So, back at Cheaney and Sons, the uppers are all made in genuine leather and the rubber soles are made by Goodyear. Yes, the tyre people. That probably explains why these soles don’t wear through like the cheap plastic versions in the budget fashion stores. If it’s good enough for a car, it’s probably okay for my husband’s feet! The soles of Clarks shoes also wear really well, and quite often the colour and condition of the shoes is what ‘gives up’ before the soles do. In fact, I made a video about giving my husband’s Clarks blue suede shoes a makeover with fabric dye, which goes to show that although the colour faded, the shoes were still absolutely fine to wear and could be brought back to life with just a little bit of effort (and some dye!)
The same goes with real leather shoes – if you look after them and ‘feed’ them with polish, the leather will stay supple for many years. And the longevity of these higher-priced shoes is actually what makes them the ‘thrifty’ option. Okay, I know it doesn’t seem thrifty to splash out hundreds of pounds on a pair of boots, but if you’re sure that they are the style, colour and fit for you, they will probably last you a lifetime. And if they do, just imagine how low the cost-per-wear would be after just 10 years of wearing them! If you pulled on a pair of £300 boots every day it would be 0.08p per wear by the time the decade was over, and the boots would probably still be fine for at least another 10 years too.
Still, as such a bargain hunter I really struggle to part with my cash all at once. It’s a difficult one to call, but when my husband can get through 4 pairs of £20 shoes in a year, yet his £100 Clarks shoes have survived 3 years without complaint, I think that the sums kind of add up in favour of the ‘investment’ footwear brands. Let me know if you have any experience of high prices vs bargain shoes and what you think is best by leaving me a comment below. And if you’re interested in watching my suede dying video – here it is:
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