Teresa Alvarez explores the world of footwear and asks, are manufacturers really offering what we want?
Last Christmas my wish list to Santa contained just one thing; a pair of just-below-the-knee boots. "That’s a simple wish," I hear you say. "There are lots of shoe sites online; you must have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice?"
Ahhh, no. I wasn’t.
I have swollen legs, and other problems with my feet and legs which mean I can’t wear high street shoes comfortably and find a more padded sole and wider shoe suits me better. These are often called comfort shoes or “specialist” shoes.
There are a few good websites out there whom I have bought shoes from before, such as Hotter and Cosyfeet. Hotter’s ranges are very extensive; they have on trend styles to suit all tastes and occasions and will often have the handbag to match. Cosyfeet are more traditional and offer a much wider range of width fittings if your feet are very swollen.
None of these are particularly cheap, but you do always get a good shoe for your money and it is made in Britain.
I tried them both first, without success. I then tried other sites such as Sandpiper, Duo Boots and the Shoe Tailor. Sandpiper shoes offer three-in-one socks so you can adjust the size throughout the day if you need to. Duo has some lovely boots and shoes for a wide calf, but prices are high and start from £150 for Boots. The Shoe Tailor offers a very extensive range of shoes and boots with varying calf widths and shoe widths right up to an EEEEE.
So, boxes came and went back all through November and December, but the boots were either too slim to fit around my legs, or were not almost knee high, or would have to be made to order costing hundreds of pounds, so my wish didn’t come true. I got a Kindle for Christmas instead........
I think shoe manufacturers are missing a trick here (and not just for my below knee high boots for a very large calf) but for not offering us enough fashionable shoes that are both comfortable to wear and at a reasonable price. The specialist or comfort shoe market is currently dominated by just a few companies, with others catering mainly for the older lady who just wants a traditional pair of slipper type Velcro shoes, not for those of us of all ages who are looking for something a bit more on trend and that won’t cost the earth.
There are at least 6.9 million disabled people in the UK, many of whom require more choice in supportive but fashionable footwear. This is a massive potential market that is being ignored. So, shoe makers, what do you plan to do about it?
DLF factsheet on footwear, http://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/finding_suitable_footwear_updated.pdf
Written by Teresa Alvarez