Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well-fitting shoes are worth paying the price

Some of the most powerful forces that affect humankind are astonishingly the most simple.

If, in the words of William Congreve, "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast"; and if food is the way to a man's heart, then where might footwear, "if the shoe fits," rank?

It's gotta be up there (the shoes, that is). Growing up, all I wore were sneakers. Converse, Pro-Keds, anything rubber-soled that enabled me to run all day. Problem is, sneakers wear out quickly.

Since entering the workforce in my teenage years, shoes became more of a priority. Shoes are obviously more appropriate than sneakers in professional work environments, and can be resoled. The comfort factor is most important, given that I am on my feet a lot at work.

Purchasing shoes that are visually appealing but do not fit correctly is a waste of money, even when they're on sale, and potentially painful to wear. Having done this more than once, I have only myself to blame.

That got me thinking ... what price would I be willing to pay for a comfortable pair of shoes?

The short answer is the amount that is at least as much as I value comfort ... but hopefully the price is negotiable.

I have worn shoes made in the U.S. (Alden, Allen-Edmonds, Cole-Haan, H.S. Trask), France (Paraboot), England (Gieves & Hawkes, Charles Tyrwhitt, Edward Green), and Italy (Fratelli-Rosetti and Damiano Chiappini). While each shoemaker has different designs and price points, the common denominator is they're all comfortable.

My latest acquisition is a pair of two-tone, handmade Stefano Branchini shoes, which retail for thousands of dollars. Branchini shoes have been worn by the likes of Sir Elton John and outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger. Branchini shoes feature side stitching, leather-tipped laces, embossing on bottom of the sole, and metal eyelets. Here's a look at what I mean:

When I tried them on, the Branchinis fit like a glove and carry a bold look. Even on sale (which they were when I got them), the bottom-line price was hefty but within the acceptable range of what I was willing to pay. (No, I'm not telling.) They are a one-of-a-kind purchase; comfortable and elegant.

With proper maintenance, I'm sure to get plenty of mileage out of these shoes, though they're not meant to be worn every day. I certainly will not keep them in a box and allow them to catch dust, either. Branchinis are a great find when they're on sale. The Bologna-based shoemaker's attention to detail is admirable.

No comments: