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Shoe Experiement

February 13, 2012

I bought these shoes in mid-April of last year.   I paid about $60 for them and I wore them to work an average of 4 days a week.  It is now 10 months later and they need to be replaced.  The material on the toe has worn off, making them look frumpy and damaged.

Honestly, it wore off at least a month ago (probably 2) but I’m cheap & a procrastinator.

I just bought these Cole Haan Air Talia mid pumps on sale $130 as my replacement.  I am fairly sure this is the most I’ve ever spent on shoes.  Here is the hypothesis I’m testing:  Shoes that are double the price last should last double the time.  True or false?  Unfortunately, I will not have the results of my experiment  until 20 months from now, unless the answer is false.  I used to remind myself of this experiment.

Dear FutureMe,

Today I bought $130 Cole Hann pumps to see if they last twice as long as $60 shoes… Did they?

Do you still care?


So far, I did notice that they were immediately more comfortable than the pair half the price.  But I’m not on my feet all that much, so comfort isn’t as important as function.

Without having to wait 20 months, do any of you have an anecdotal evidence from your own shoe experiences?  Do more expensive shoes really last any longer?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    February 13, 2012 7:42 am

    Because I end up on my feet a lot in court etc. it’s important to me to wear shoes that are professional and comfortable. Cole Haan has been my go to brand for a few years. The first pair I ever bought about 3 yrs ago, and wear 3x/week at least, is still in perfect shape. All they’ve needed was to have the heel cap replaced. But, Cole Haan provides an extra set when you purchase the shoes.

  2. February 13, 2012 8:33 am

    I definitely think expensive shoes last longer.

  3. Stephanie permalink
    February 13, 2012 8:40 am

    I don’t think the price makes much of a difference. Even higher end shoes like Cole Haan and Marc Jacobs are all made in china these days. I bought a pair of $100+ Marc Jacobs shoes last fall, and within 6 months the leather was peeling off and the wrapping was coming off the heel. On the other hand, I bought a pair of Franco Sarto pumps over 10 years ago for $69. They are still in perfect condition and I get compliments on them all the time. BUT, it just so happens that these shoes were made in Brazil, and not China. Same thing with my leather boots–bought them 12 years ago for $89, and they are still perfect. Once again–they were made in Brazil and not in China. I’ve bought multiple pairs of pumps in the last 3 years, just because they keep falling apart. At this point, I’ve vowed that I’m not buying anymore made in China crappy shoes. I’d rather spend $300 and get something that will actually last. I don’t have time to run to the mall every weekend to try and buy a new pair of decent shoes.

    The good news is, since you bought yours from Nordstrom’s you can return them when they fall apart in 8 months.

    • SP permalink*
      February 13, 2012 9:39 am

      Hmmm… so you think $300 shoes would last significantly better? I just feel like something that is on your feet so much will have a hard time lasting.

      • steph885 permalink
        February 13, 2012 12:09 pm

        I think that if they were to last for 10+ years then they are worth $300. However, if I were to spend that much money, I would be sure to get them from Nordstrom just in case they did happen to fall apart after only 1-2 years. I don’t think the key to getting good, long lasting shoes is spending $300 on them. I think the point is to get something made in Italy, Brazil, or another country known for constructing high quality shoes. It just happens that shoes from these locations do start at around $300. If you find any for less than that, then go for it, but as of yet, I haven’t.

        I think you also have to consider the time & effort it takes to buy a pair of shoes. You can order online of course, but then you have to deal with the hassle of multiple returns just to find something that fits. If you go to the store, it’s 20-30 minutes there in the car, 20-30 minutes back, the hassle of fighting traffic….all of that costs money. You’re talking $10-$15 in auto costs just for one trip to the mall. Let’s say you buy 1 pair of dress shoes per year at $75 each. $75 x 10 years is $750. Plus you have the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car etc. So that’s probably at least another $100. So would I really save money by buying cheaper shoes?

        • February 13, 2012 7:35 pm

          Nordstrom is pretty close to me 🙂 I order online, but i can get in and out of their return department in <15 (free parking if you leave in <15 minutes).

  4. February 13, 2012 8:59 am

    I go back and forth on this one. On days I’m wearing work shoes, I do wind up being on my feet a lot, and so comfort does matter. Some shoes turn out to be very comfortable so I wear them a lot, and then they wear out. Other shoes are less comfortable, so I wear them less often, so they appear to last…but it’s only because they’re sitting in my closet. I have not figured out any particular correlation between comfort and price. I bought a pair of sandals at Aerosole 8 years ago that did turn out to be comfortable. I’ve repaired the heels multiple times, and now need to repair the buckle and strap too but I hope I can find a cobbler who will do that because finding comfortable shoes is so hard. I would be willing to spend a lot for a pair that looked nice but were actually walkable (like walking more than a mile wouldn’t be a problem).

  5. February 13, 2012 9:32 am

    Bought a pair for $130 (brown ballet flats) (Rudsak, Canadian brand)

    I wear them TO DEATH, so it’s no surprise the sole has ripped from the heel, but it is really annoying that it happened after 4 months of heavy duty wear.

    What is that, like a year for real people who don’t live in flats?

    I’m now looking at another brand, more specifically — Frye.

    I need support, a rubber sole, and comfortable leather uppers. Period. None of this crappy, flimsy shoe construction that goes for $70 but sucks.

  6. February 13, 2012 10:13 am

    Okay, first off this is an awesome idea! Thanks for the link.

    Secondly, I usually don’t care too much about shoes, but those Cole Haans are B-E-Autiful! You have excellent taste 🙂

  7. February 13, 2012 11:11 am

    I love shoes, but I hate spending a lot on them. I have noticed that real leather shoes tend to last longer, and are worth paying the money to take them to the cobbler. So here is hopping that they last for you.

  8. February 13, 2012 12:03 pm

    more expensive shoes last wayyy longer and are way more comfortable to me.

    I generally buy cheap heels from Le Chateau for $40-$90 then occasionally splurge on nice shoes from Nine West for around $130.

    I find my cheep heels wear out so fast — I almost immediately have to replace the stiletto tip within 2-3 months. This is only about $12 but seriously it brings the total cost for the pair up to around $100 so why didn’t I just spend the extra $30 and buy from Nine West?

    Shoes! Gah!

  9. February 13, 2012 12:32 pm

    Not a shoe thing, but I did a similar experiment with purses. I had gone through a string of cheaper purses falling to bits on me so I invested $130 in a Coach bag at the local outlet mall. I did the math on cost per use of my cheap bags and the new bag to figure out how long I’d have to have the Coach purse for it to be a better value. So far I’m 6 months past the time it needed to last to and its still going strong! Plus I haven’t had to buy a purse in 2 years so I’m happy. On the other hand, my wallets keep falling apart on me…

  10. February 13, 2012 1:28 pm

    I do think that shoe quality varies from brand to brand, but I don’t think that expensive shoes always last longer. Cole Haans hold up really well, though, in my experience.

    Have you tried taking your old shoes to a shoe repair store? For $10-$15, they have fixed shoes for me that I previously would have thought had to be retired. They can fix a worn down or broken heel and polish the front so that you can’t tell that the material has worn off.

    • February 13, 2012 7:34 pm

      Yes, I definitely have. I didn’t think these were salvageable as the materiel wore off – i don’t get how polish would fix that, but maybe I should have given it a chance. I do repair shoes that have relatively simple fixes (heels/soles & had a strap put back on).

      • February 14, 2012 12:35 pm

        I’m not sure what sort of magical professional polish they use, but it’s definitely not the type that you buy at the drug store. I had a pair of boots that I feel in and scratched really badly, but the shoe repairman was able to almost “paint” them so you couldn’t tell there had been a scratch.

  11. Anna permalink
    February 13, 2012 4:14 pm

    I’m betting the Cole Haan shoes are much more comfortable for you with the “Nike air technology” in the sole…I have size 12 feet so I tend to spend at least $120-$150 on a pair of shoes because they’re hard to find in regular shoe stores…and my feet like nice soft well made leather shoes and boots, so I spend the money on them!

  12. SWR permalink
    February 13, 2012 5:42 pm

    I pretty much agree with a comment above – it depends upon the quality of the manufacturing as well as the price. Lots of brand names have switched to cheaper manufacturing but haven’t lowered their prices accordingly.

    (J.Crew is a great example of this- their merchandise, on the whole, is significantly lower-quality than it was even a few years ago, but their prices keep rising.)

    I’ve noticed that very inexpensive flats tend to lose their shape quickly and become tricky to walk in, so I stay away from those. Other than that, I try to spend on shoes depending on how much wear they are going to get. (With the exceptions being my winter boots and hiking shoes.)

  13. February 13, 2012 6:32 pm

    My high-end designer shoes seem to last for years and years…I have a pair of D&G heels that i’ve had since 2006 (and wore almost daily for a year, that’s how comfy those heels are) and they still look amazing. Just had to replace the heel tips twice. My Tory Burch’s need new soles, but i’ve also had those for about 5 years.

    I got a pair of J. Crew flats in September, and while they weren’t cheap, they already look messed up. They are super comfy though, but they are now my ‘bad weather and traveling’ shoes.

    And overall, when I look at my shoes, I see that the cheaper ones have all been thrown out, but the expensive ones are all still there. It’s also wise to spend some money on maintaining your shoes, my cobbler and I are like best friends.

    • February 18, 2012 7:15 pm

      D&G is the BEST from what I’ve heard and experienced. I bought my first pair in 2006 – metallic heeled sandals that you’d think would be delicate – and I still wear them and get compliments! So last year I got my second pair and they still look brand spanking new. I don’t love all their styles but from what I hear their clothing and shoes are truly designer made and stand the test of time.

  14. February 13, 2012 7:18 pm

    I like leather shoes, I find that they “breathe” better. Not sure about longevity though… I love how you used FutureMe to send yourself a reminder. hehe. That’s a great idea.

  15. February 15, 2012 2:21 pm

    I don’t think expensive shoes always last longer. A lot of the cost is due to brand name not quality.

    My biggest secret, as mentioned by Chantalle, is to be best friends with your cobbler. Put in shoe taps, polish them on occasion, and take care of them! As long as the shoe is made of real leather, it should last longer.

    I do try to buy “better” brands on sale. I have some luck at DSW. I got a good quality pair of heels and pair of boots, both made in Italy, and they have lasted years (I got both for around $100 each but their retail value due to brand name was much higher).

  16. February 18, 2012 7:12 pm

    Better brands do last longer on a relative basis, but that’s not the entire point. Shoes that cost double the price shouldn’t be expected to last double as long, just like luxury sedans that cost double the price of budget counterparts aren’t necessarily expected to last longer. There are other considerations such as comfort, style and image in addition to durability and material.

    I used to wear Nine West pumps to work but was replacing them every 6 months – and they only looked decent for about half that time before I’d finally throw them out. I love the brand for what you get, but my Kate Spade pumps lasted me for 5 years before I finally HAD to chuck them. And I got compliments on them at least monthly during that entire time. I wore them at least 4 times a week (they were nude patent leather pumps). My Jimmy Choos did NOT stand the test of time however, and I returned them to Nordstrom after 1.5 months when the heel snapped out of nowhere.

    Ever since the Kate Spade thing though, I generally pay up for name brand shoes. Durability plus the image factor (better sheen, color, style) makes it worth it for me.

    • SP permalink*
      February 20, 2012 10:47 pm

      But to me, basic black pumps are basic black pumps – i know this isn’t true in all cases or for all shoes. The image factor isn’t huge in my field (though looking nice is always important, it isn’t client driven or anything, and people generally don’t dress super sharp).

      So in this case, i would want them to last 2x as long. I get what you are saying in general, which is one reason i avoid luxury brands. I don’t find the image factor to have enough impact on my life.

  17. February 26, 2012 12:25 pm

    I usually go to the shop and try to find comfortable, cute looking heels or flat and guess what, they are always expensive. Comfortable but good looking shoes always are…
    My feet are very important to me cause I am a runner and I would never go for cheaper shoes if they are not good enough. My feet run a lot and deserves the best 🙂

    • February 27, 2012 7:47 pm

      I agree for running shoes 🙂 I don’t really find it makes a difference with dress shoes, but everyone’s feet have different needs!

  18. February 29, 2012 10:39 am

    I was wanting those shoes and really wavered on whether it was worth the cost (comfort-wise) and whether it would last long enough to make it worth the cost over time. I’m wishing you started this experiment earlier. 🙂

  19. March 5, 2012 9:40 pm

    I’ve never been able to afford Cole-Haan; besides, pointy toes and thin, flat soles hurt my feet. However, a friend of mine buys nothing but, and her shoes DO last. And they sure do look nice.


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