Archive for the ‘Shoe Product Reviews’ Category
posted by: HerberWellss in Shoe Product Reviews
I just finished a book called Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell.
It is based on the premise that in our discount culture, bad money has driven out good. How many times have we purchased something with the thought, “It is so cheap that when it breaks I won’t feel bad.” How many times have we looked at a beautiful, well made but expensive pair of shoes and purchased a cheaper version, only to have them not fit well and end up in the back of the closet? All the time. These are the issues that Ellen Ruppert Shell addresses in this book.
Within this book author Rupert Shell gives an extensive marketing history and it’s larger-than-life characters in the pursuit of cheap products. She also takes Walmart, IKEA, agriculture, and the import-export practices of governments to task.
I was discussing this book with an Australian friend and he made the observation that when an American looks at a pair of boots, they ask “How much does it cost?” Non-Americans will ask, “Who made it?” I think that is even the wrong question. “How is it made?” should be the question. When you look at a pair of Payless flats and a pair of Cydwoq flats, we can see which one has the better craftsmanship. We will also pay over 10 times the price. Consider which will ultimately be the most costly?
Intern $294 at Cydwoq.com BTW I am saving up for a pair of Cydwoqs. I am quite intrigued by them.
Ms. Ruppert Shell is not telling us to stop bargain shopping, she is telling us that we have the power to set a standard for quality and stick to it. We can get reacquainted with craftsmanship and quality. We can support businesses that offer quality and service over price – usually independent small businesses. This will keep them in business, keep our craftsmen employed, and contribute to a healthier global economy.
This is not a beach book. I don’t usually read books, I inhale them. This took me a little longer to read, for a couple of reasons. First, I am as politically conservative, and probably as annoying as your Aunt Edna from Iowa . The author’s worldview is left-leaning. Sometimes I would be so frosted with what she said, I had to put it down and calm down. Secondly, this is an economics, marketing book. There was a lot of information in this book. Ms Ruppert Shell was able articulate what I had been thinking about for a while.
Who would I recommend this book to? Someone who is interested in marketing history, global economics, marketing, purchasing, or those concerned about the quality of products available to us.
I have been wear-testing the following ‘Very Volatile’ wedges for roughly the last month.
They are a great spring-summer sandal in one of this season’s more popular colors – turquoise. These also have an appealing organic design that really works with a spring wardrobe; particularly if you are like me and have a lot of cooler tones in your wardrobe.
These sandals are available in whole sizes 6-10 B US sizing (37-41 EU). Sizing was my first challenge. As a size 7.5 medium who prefers a lot of toe room, the choice on whether to try a 7 or 8 is the first challenge I encountered. So, I actually tried a size 7 in the turquoise, and a size 8 in black suede.
The good news is that both sizes adjust fairly well in that the buckled slingback and suede material allow for a lot of fine-tuning and comfort on the initial fit. However, the size 7 had more than enough space to accommodate my anything-but narrow size 7.5 feet. And, while sometimes slingbacks feel like the strap is about to slip off your ankle, these stayed secure through multiple wearings.
How comfortable are they? Well, they did have a brief breaking-in period of about 2-3 wearings of 2-5 hours each. Each wearing was successively more comfortable than the last; there were no blisters thanks to the soft suede and roomy shape, but I did get a bit of a workout re-learning how to walk on a platform wedge; these have an almost 1″ lift under the toe and about a 4″ overall lift at the heel. The footbed it lightly cushioned, and after several wearings, this padding started to form to the shape of my arch – an absolute necessity if you have a higher arch like I do. If you are not ‘blessed’ with high arches, you may have little or no break-in period with these.
Here are some pictures of how these bamboo-wrapped wedges actually look on the foot:
(Yes, I need a pedicure – fast!)
The turquoise color really is fabulous!
You can see here that the size 7 in turquoise is definitely roomy enough for those of us who normally wear a 7.5. And, while it looks like my pinky toe is trying to escape, it never has. The straps and cutouts are placed perfectly to avoid that happening on my feet.
You can see in this next picture that the size 8 is super roomy. I would definitely think someone who is an 8-8.5 would have no problem with this size working for them.
(If you feel the need to put on your sunglasses to view these, I understand – I really am quite naturally pale. My hubby has joked that since I don’t tan, I actually bleach in the sunlight. But, I digress).
I have to admit, that although Volatile shoes are a well-known regional brand in the areas such as the Southeastern United States (A ‘go-to’ for wedges, flip-flops, and animal prints), I was unfamiliar with them before I stumbled across them several months ago.
As a brand, Volatile has competitive pricing, current styling, and reasonable comfort. This is particularly remarkable in the current climate of ridiculously rising shoe prices. This makes Volatile shoes a nice value, particularly for ladies on a budget.
And, if you can get both comfort and style on a reasonable budget, I’m all for that.
posted by: freePOrnaoa in Shoe Product Reviews
You all already know that I grew up as a lover of fine grain leather in my family’s shoe stores. I think leather is the only thing that unites my love of all things black, street, tough and rockergirl with my seemingly opposite love of all things classic, equestrienne and tailored. Had I my way, I would hit the road clad in leather on a Harley and never look back!
Alas … I’m a bit too small to hop on a Chopper, much less hold one up, and so I’ll have to settle for being driven around in these vehicles that look like they should be motorized.
Aren’t they va-va-va-voom!? These babies are called the Jumpstart, and they’re part of Fergie’s new line, specifically the Glitterati Collection. I consider them a jumpstart for your legs to run the race to Destination: Hotness.
If I do say so myself, they make my fairly average legs look pretty sexy (that’s why I’m such a heel devotee!) and the three inch heel really emphasizes my calf muscles. I wore them around all day (with the exception of my morning run, of course!) to get a good feel for what they would be like as a day shoe. The result: success. They carried me through errands, up and down the street and up and down stairs easily. I’m glad Fergie didn’t make them a three and a half inch heel. Here I am trying them out in the grass, walking around a garden.
Don’t try that at home! That contrast of grass and leather looked commercial-cool but was an ill-advised idea as the stilettos kept sinking into the dirt. I suggest you stick to pavement or at the very least a path. Not for a picnic, these motors.
Here we are from a side view. When standing, you won’t have as much of a gap in your heel area. One downside is that with a fully covered heel cap like this, you’re going to feel a little funny if it doesn’t fit perfectly, and it’s not like our heels are all uniformly shaped. This one fit my heel fine and the leather cap was decently flexible when I stood up. I have pretty thin, if long, feet.
I can’t say that they make the full grain leather cut, but it’s a pretty decent quality and it’s real leather (the website says goat leather, which is fairly new and experimental in fashion; my research turned up some articles saying that goat leather can be more expensive because goats are often bred in the city near to where the leather will be tanned, etc.). Don’t expect buttery soft pebble grain leather. That doesn’t work in a shoe like this because it’s too soft to maintain a tough shape and support your foot with so little material. If you want to condition the insides of the leather straps to make them a little softer on your skin (though they’re already a different softer grain, I like to do this on strappy shoes since the strap is supporting your entire weight and can really chafe), you can use a leather lotion by Coach, Wilson’s, Kiwi or any number of other companies, though time will also soften the straps a bit.
Here’s a look at the detailing and the sole.
Innovation: 6. I like the cutouts, but this is a pretty basic shoe following a pretty traditional pattern. What I do really like are the subtle cutouts on the ankle strap and the extra skinny ankle strap for support and style. I also REALLY like the stretchy elastic goring on the ankle straps that allows for a more perfect fit. Good thinking, designers. The elastic could stretch after a while but they made it pretty tight so you’ll stretch it out to your natural ankle size, and if they stretch too much, a good shoe store can repair that (my favorite is the shoe store that services Vogue, Shoe Service Plus, which is pricy but excellent as long as you are very specific).
Style: 7. They’re still very au courant and rocker chic will be constantly classic for the fast forward future. They’re simple, but they get the job done in keeping you in mode. They’re actually pretty dignified because they’re so simple and Fergie’s team kept the studs to a limit and made the accenting zipper and studs silver instead of a flashier gold. I think if there had been a platform it would’ve looked too chunky and not streamlined enough.
Sex factor: 9. Holla! These kittens are HOT in the “Don’t Mess with Me Unless You’re Tough and then DO Mess with Me Cause You’re My Kinda Man” sort of way. Just don’t overdo the outfit. Let the attention be the shoes.
Comfort: 6. I’m used to wearing very high heels, so this is relative, but shoes that look like this are usually SO uncomfortable. There’s no platform and it’s a three inch heel, so I can’t give them a 7.
Practicality: 5. Wear them beneath your long work pants and they’re practical for work. Bring a pair of shorts or a skirt to change into for the evening out. If you’re a tough city chick who doesn’t work corporate, these will blend seamlessly into your wardrobe. Otherwise, they’re practical only for nights and weekends.
Price: 6. I think $99 is an acceptable price for what they are and for being a full leather upper. Steve Madden charges more for shoes that are probably of an equivalent quality, with less leather and more fabric. Sometimes Nine West and Aldo charge more for non-leather.
Overall score: 6.5. This is a sexy urban girl shoe. It’d work in LA or New York or Detroit or Atlanta or Chicago, or in the trendiest venues of smaller towns. Keep the outfit relatively contrasting, like a silky top and not overly short shorts, and I think you’ve got a weekend warrior. Get your style fight on by buying them here or enter the ShoeBlog Fergie Shoe Giveaway where 3 pairs of Fergies’ shoes are being given away.
Now I’m going to go be glamorous, flossy and Fergalicious in my Jumpstarts, even if it’s just to hit the drive thru at Taco Bell (or In-N-Out for their animal style burger, as is usually the case for yours truly).
The birds are chirping. The leaves are budding. The flowers are blossoming. And I’m in a total case of spring fever. Since I’m me, this extends to shoes. I’m browsing for sandals left and right and getting all excited over pedicures and ballet flats and all, just like I do every spring.
But I’m also doing my other thing that I do every springtime. Wondering if I’ll be able to find walkable, supportive, cute shoes for the warm weather.
How perfect the timing then, for Thierry Rabotin to step on up.
Thierry Rabotin is one of those classics of the comfort shoe industry. The man himself used to be the designer for Taryn Rose, and after some legal bad blood a few years back when he left the company, he struck out on his own, with his own mission to make high-end, handmade comfort shoes.
And he’s done it. If you’re a geek about shoe companies like I am, check out that link to the company website for some interesting information about their manufacturing process and design vision.
In case you’re not a geek like that (though, really, I bet a bunch of you are… it’s Shoeblog, after all), I won’t go into it much, except to say that Rabotins are made in Italy (as the good shoes always are) and use the legendary sacchetto construction (basically where full grain leather linings are sewn directly to the upper of the shoe instead of being glued to mid-layers or shanks or insoles) that a) makes shoes a lot lighter and more flexible and b) is fairly rare, since it takes a lot more care in the construction of a shoe and doesn’t lend itself to assembly-line mass production techniques.
Oh look… I went on about geeky shoe things anyway.
Well, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
So up to now I’ve been very curious to try a pair of Thierrys, but I’ve never been tickled by their styles until I snagged myself a pair of these Georgia maryjanes for my very own.
Of course, it’s time to share the experience with all of you good people out there.
First off, I was a mite sceptical to be honest. I’m generally leery of this sort of flat ballet-inspired shoe, because most of the ones I’ve ever tried on, even those from “comfort” companies, don’t offer much in the way of support or shock-absorption, and they often cut up the back of my heel something fierce.
But when I slipped these on and walked them through the concrete and cobblestone streets of London for a few days, the most I could complain about was one spot where the edge rubbed at the outside of my little toe. Even that, honestly, I’m not too worried about. The leather feels like butter, and it’s already stretching around the shape of my foot. No heel rubbing, because there’s a genius patch of suede on the inside of the shoe’s heel. There’s even built-in arch support! It’s like a little sigh of relief putting these puppies on my feet. Word of advice, though: I’d go up a half size if you’re in doubt. I’m usually an 8 US, and I got these in the 8.5 (which in Rabotin sizing is 38.5), and I wouldn’t want ‘em any smaller.
They’re a bit on the narrow side (hence the toe rubbing), which also worried me looking at them in the box. But they’re actually quite flattering once they’re on, and they don’t gap weirdly, which I often find is a problem with ballerina-style shoes.
Style-wise, I can’t say as they’re the most cutting edge pair of shoes I’ve ever put on, and that’s in keeping with the company’s ethos of making shoes that are “classics” and don’t follow the whims of fashion. Personally, I think there’s still room to get a bit less old-fashioned with their collections while maintaining a classic overall style. But the inclusion of these metallic leathers that they’ve been doing for the past few seasons has made a huge difference. Case in point: in black, the Georgia isn’t nearly as interesting to me.
Likewise, it’s the pewter that catches my eye on the Grace flat.
OK, maybe I’m just a sucker for the shiny, but make something in a metallic, and I’m all over it.
All in all, I’d say I was really pleasantly surprised by these shoes, and I’d give them high marks all around, with perhaps a few points off for style innovation.
If you’re after a pair of your own, follow the links above to the shoes at Joseph. And if you’re still not convinced that these are awesome and worth the (admittedly high) retail price tag of $400-450, there are plenty of other comfort brands there with some adorable shoes for spring. I make special mention of these funky Arche perforated sandals, which are not only a ton of fun in hot pink, but damn trendy right now with their zip-up heel and combination clunky/cut-out styling.
Or, in a yet-lower price bracket, there’s the Cole Haan Air Ariana sandal with Nike sole technology. I haven’t mentioned it recently, but seriously, the Cole Haan Air series (as well as its precursor, Cole Haan G Series) makes up by far the highest percentage of my go-to shoes for summer walking in stylish comfort.
You know what? Just go ahead and browse through all the spring shoes over there. There are some beauts. And there’s even a fun article from their head shoe buyer about some of his favorite picks for spring shoes.
Ahhhhhh ASGI, producer of extremely comfortable footwear, we are quite fond of you. For those of you who have been with us awhile, you may remember that this Science-of-Shoewearing brand showed up here on Shoeblog last spring when Shoesense reviewed their “Joy” Mary Jane. She went through their amazng Soleplex technology, but since it’s always a good time for good news, I am going to tell you about it again. Here is the first major reason to get interested in this brand, and fast:
ASGI claims to design their shoes “from the inside out” and in this image of the heeled version of their 3-tiered Soleplex design, you begin to see why. In this image, tiers 1 and 2 make up the “Footbed and Stabilizer” level. It is a contoured base that conforms, memoryfoam-like, to your your foot so that you almost feel like the shoe was made for you. It is then reinforced to provide extra support. The bottom tier is a combination of the “Chassis” and the “Pods” that are seperated in the flat version of the shoe. The Chassic is the stong durable foundation that gives you stability even on cobblestones and uneven ground. The “Pod,” or in this case, the heel, is carefully placed to distribute weight. Even though this is a heeled shoe, you are in no way balancing on your toes. For more information on Soleplex technology, check out the ASGI website.
The CLAIM: ASGI shoes are designed with comfort first and then wrapped in the latest fashion designs.
The TEST: Twinkletoes will wear the Carina Bootie all over the streets of New York and render her decision.
Here is a photo of the Carina bootie in which I did, indeed, traipse all over Manhattan.
CLAIM 1 RESULT: COMFORT. I found that ASGI totally lives up to the hard sell on the Soleplex technology. The shoe does actually feel like it molds to your foot. The longer you wear it, the more comfortable it gets. On top of that, New York is incredibly hard on shoes. Virtually ever pair of shoes I own looks like it has been in a streetfight. In the past I have found that the heel caps on my shoes can wear down with one wearing. ONE! But the polyurethane Chassis and Heel scoffed in the face of the NYC streets. Subway Grates? Sure, I got caught in them (I am not the most graceful of girls), but they came right out with nary a nick on them. Questionable puddles in the street? No problem! The leather was not damaged at all and any grime just washed right off! These babies are amazingly street savvy.
CLAIM 2 RESULT: FASHION. On this level, I feel that ASGI has a little way to go. I paired these with several different looks to see how they worked.
I think that it definitely works best with the work look. It is a sturdy, comfortable work shoe but i think it needs a bit of tweaking before it can be called full-on Fashion. My main issue with it is the toe box. The squared off toe looks a little old-fashioned to me. Tweaking it just a little by making it either rounded or pointed would go a long way for the look. I understand that it is supposed to loafer-esque, but I think the look needs a bit more streamlining. However, I stand firm on the idea that if you are looking for comfortable, good-looking work shoe, these are perfect.
I did spend a great deal of time perusing ASGI’s website and found that the Daisy Ballerina shoe is super cute! Based on my time with the Carina Bootie, I am also 100% certain that it is incredibly comfortable. In addition to the black style, it is available in gold and silver, a perfect fit for the new Spring trends.