The Good Shoe | Manufactured and Bespoke Footwear

The good shoe is a rarity of our modern consumerist culture. We are attracted to how the shoe looks and the next thing we know, there are blisters all over our feet. This begs the question–what makes for a good shoe, then?

Logic dictates that the shoe must both look good and feel good. In my teenage and early adult years, I sometimes needlessly subjected myself to suffering to achieve a certain look which was in fashion at the time. As I ushered in my late twenties, I completely abandoned the desire to suffer. Rather, I would opt for the sensible shoe. It was one that was flat or only had a small and comfortable heel.

Nowadays, shoe manufacturing is an automated process. Until the 19th century, however, shoes were largely made on a bespoke basis. For most of human history, it was standard practise to either make your own shoes or to entrust it to a craftsman who was dedicated to the art of shoemaking.

Despite the enormous array of choices that now exist regarding shoe-buying, our present shoe culture is not a healthy one. It doesn’t always come down to price either.

While bespoke shoes are now considered the height of luxury, it is crazy to think that in the not so distant past, they were the norm. The well-fitting shoe is something I’ve always aspired to. I did find a few pairs of shoes over the years that fit well, looked good and were comfortable–but it took lots of research to locate a pair. And for some reason, I was never able to find them again when I wanted to repurchase them.

Styles are discontinued as the seasons change and since our feet are indeed made for walking, a shoe doesn’t last as long as a coat or a suit.

One window shopping trip in any mall and you will quickly realise that the whole world is now walking around–as opposed to running around–in sneakers, gym shoes or sport shoes. I can see the appeal. However, it’s not daily wear for me in my line of work. It’s more of something for the weekend or when I actually go for a hike.

The perfect shoe that fits well and looks good is hard to find, indeed. Sounds like the start of a fairy tale. I better not turn into a pumpkin. Knowing my luck, I’ll probably turn into a pineapple.


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