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Question on shoe quality...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
How's it going guys? I was just wondering if you all could tell me how to pick out a well made shoe from a cheap one by looks and what maybe to look for to differentiate.  Tonight I purchased a pair of Brown Shoe Company black Milano style square toed lace ups for $65 (laugh... scoff... I know... probably not good, but neither is my current newspaper photojournalist monthly earnings).  They are leather and it says they are made in Italy (not sure if that makes a difference), and look indentical to a pair of Kenneth Cole's that I really like but I can't drop $150 on them right now.  My question is, with not too regular wear (once or twice a week to go out, etc.) would the shoes I bought do me okay until I can get a pair of Kenenth Cole's in a year or so, or should I take them back and just wait?  If you guys are like the GQ people you will laugh me off this forum for even admitting what I did, but I would genuinely like your opinion as I am trying to upgrade my wardrobe on a pretty pathetic income, and I won't bury myself in credit card debt to do it.  Thank you in advance. Kevin
post #2 of 12
From what I've read on this forum about Ken Cole shoes, your new shoes are probably of similar quality - you just saved yourself an expensive label . B
post #3 of 12
Just as an adjunct - your best option would be to first learn what sizes fit you correctly (good fitting clothing looks better than ill fitting expensive clothing). Then, learn a bit about makers and things like that. After that, start looking on EBay and Bluefly for things - you'll save a surprising amount of money. I kind of split 50/50 between paying retail and buying new stuff on the 'sale' sites like EBay and Bluefly...but I look at paying retail as a luxury more than anything else, something that's fun to do.
post #4 of 12
I have a pair of sandals by Brown Shoe Company that I paid about $30 for, but they are as well made as others I have seen for $100 or more. Designer labels do not always mean quality, so it is my opinion that you can be stylish even without spending a fortune on every item of clothing for a name brand label. You have to learn a little bit about what to look for in quality and manufacturing, but many non-designer brands are made as well as the designer ones. True - there are exceptions. True story here - I used to do public relations for a small chain of discount stores here in the Southwest (I don't mean discount like Dillards, I mean discount like Family Dollar Stores). Several times in marketing meetings, our buyers would come back from New York and throw down a group of designer label dress shirts or ties that were $80-$100 shirts and tell us that they could get those for our stores, but (and this is what the labels don't tell you) the manufacturers would put a different - non-designer- label in them before we sold the shirts for a normal price for us of $12.99 or at an expensive price point of $19.99 per shirt. Many of the manufacturers make shirts, ties, jackets, shoes, etc. for designers but also market similar products under non-designer or store labels. My feeling is that you're better off looking at the quality and style of a garment, not the brand name.
post #5 of 12
F4iryder14: You are a photojournalist and you are worried about looking good? Man is that refreshing to hear for a change. As a newspaper editor, I am constantly amazed at how my photographers dress. These guys take slovenliness to a new low. Keep up the good work.
post #6 of 12
You saved yourself a bunch of money. Kenneth Cole Shoes are absolute crap. I bought three pairs and all of them have fallen apart within a year. They are absolute garbage. I am currently wearing Kenneth Cole boots- I bought them at a shop in Chicago that sells off season Kenneth Cole shoes for $15/ or less a pair (which is about what they are worth). At the same price point as Kenneth Cole I would rather go for something like Cole Haan- heck, ANYTHING is better than Kenneth Cole shoes.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Really good advice and interesting points guys, thanks. I feel a lot better about the purchase I made. And though I do try to look good on the job Stu, I don't plan on wearing these shoes to work. I usually wear a pair of Adidas or similar running shoe as I find myself sometimes needing to stand in the mud at a real estate site, or shooting a basketball game or something and dress shoes aren't very practical in varied environments. But I usually wear a collared shirt and a nice pair of jeans or khakis, as I never know who I might meet and don't want to look like I just got home from vacation.
post #8 of 12
I also just wanted to say that not everything made by Kenneth Cole is Garbage- my favorite pair of pants is KC infact. Their shoes just aren't good.
post #9 of 12
It's a bit difficult to give a crash course on shoe quality without picking up a pair and demonstrating what I'm talking about. Nevertheless I will try: Apart from sneakers where the sole is injection moulded, men's shoes are constructed in two basic methods: they are either "cemented" the sole is glued on or they are stitched (Blake-stitched or Goodyear-welted). Probably 80% of all men's shoes are cemented, it is the cheapest construction but also the worst. Shoe and sole can part company and they are not easily or satisfactorily repaired. Of the better, stitched variety, most Italian shoes are Blake-stitched while most English and American shoes are Goodyear-welted. In a Blake-stitched shoe you see a row of stitching from the inside going around the insole (sometimes covered by a thin leather sole). In a Goodyear-welted shoe that row of stitching goes outside the shoe into the welt, which is a narrow strip of leather. Blake makes light and flexible shoes, while Goodyear makes stronger and more robust shoes. It's rather horses for courses. You might also try to avoid all shoes with a high gloss finish. They are inferior leathers which, needing all the help they can get, are coated with plastic. This plastic is likely to crack in the creases. Go to your nearest shoe shop, look at shoes, handle them and ask yourself why one pair costs $ 100 while another pair costs $ 300. You will see the difference. Ask the sales staff, preferably the old ones who have a far better product knowledge than the young kids. You will learn to see the difference between a good and a mediocre and a bad pair of shoes.
post #10 of 12
Check out this site for shoe construction info: Amesbury makes custom made shoes which start in the thousands of dollars.
post #11 of 12
Go to your nearest shoe shop, look at shoes, handle them and ask yourself why one pair costs $ 100 while another pair costs $ 300. You will see the difference. Ask the sales staff, preferably the old ones who have a far better product knowledge than the young kids. You will learn to see the difference between a good and a mediocre and a bad pair of shoes.
Can you recommend any brands that are relatively inexpensive but not cemented?
post #12 of 12
what style of shoe are you looking for?? dress or more casual?? even though there has been some hatred expressed about kenneth coles, i have to ask are you wearing the reaction line or the kenneth cole line?? the reaction line is a molded outsole. much cheaper than the top kenneth cole line (at around $120 as opposed to $200-$300), the reactions, i have found through my sales, last quite a long time.
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