My shoeing problems are back again. They never really go away. Despite the bewildering number and range of shoes available, it’s still hard to get a well-made, sensible, elegant shoe, unless you can get take out a mortgage and get one made. (Or two.) Most shoes and boots are mass-manufactured crap. There’s no point going for a branded shoe: it’s just as badly made as a non-branded shoe. I haven’t yet tried Clarks (haven’t worn Clarks since at school) – they may be better-made. I hope so, for two recent experiences have left me feeling rather bitter. I have no money and resent paying quite a lot for bad quality.
I needed a pair of boots for winter, suitable for everyday wear (which, admittedly, means country mud more than city pavements). I was a bit desperate at that moment, in a very rainy Cambridge, for my Keen sandals were letting in water – not in the bits you might expect, but through the soles. I went to Sole Trader. First big mistake. I bought some sensible-looking Doc Martens boots, thinking they’d be stout. Within two weeks one boot leaked horrible and started to come apart. I took it back to Sole Trader. Oh no, said the manager, we can’t replace them; we have to send them to the manufacturer to get a report and then if they agree that the boots are faulty… I was absolutely staggered. A month later, Sole Trader did replace my boots. Of course. It was damn obvious they were faulty. I’m NEVER shopping with Sole Trader again. Nor am I buying DMs again. The boots aren’t a year old yet, and they are already letting in water – not because they’re worn or have holes in, but because they’re badly manufactured (in Thailand). Cheapness over quality. I am happy to pay £100 or even more for boots, but I do want them to last more than a couple of wearings.
I replaced my Keen sandals with more Keen sandals – the Arroyo II. I have had several Keens before, and liked them for their immediate comfort and practicality, and solidity of manufacture. Keen is an American firm and was quite niche. But now it’s expanded and its shoes are made in China. I was pleased with them at first, but my Arroyo sandals have turned out to be a huge disappointment. Within six months the soles have started to delaminate and let water in. The breathable, waterproof, magic upper takes ages to dry out – I might as well just have leather. I can’t wear them even in short grass without getting wet feet. I’m now going to stop buying Keen shoes. They’re crap.
Back, instead, to my gorgeous clogs, made by the last clogger in Lancashire twenty years ago and still going strong. Why did I stop wearing them?
I’m also going to work out how to cut tyres. Then I’ll make my own shoes. Place your orders here.