“Put on Your Red Shoes and Dance the Blues” --- David Bowie
Wow! Two great colors in one set of phenomenal lyrics – across what might very well be the most important fashion element in a woman’s wardrobe.
So, what IS IT about shoes?
Shoes are almost a religion. Some women have a shrine (alright a closet, but it’s a BIG closet with racks, shelves, and lighting dedicated to nothing but shoes) in their house. Conservatively, the typical shrine might have 100 pairs of shoes (remember Imelda Marcos, wife of deposed Dictator/President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, with 3000 pairs)? Now, this is well over the average of 19 pairs for the typical female consumer. So – go count your shoe inventory – and if you are beneath the 19 pair average, you owe it to yourself, and footwear statisticians of the world, to pick up some inventory to get yourself up to the average level.
The thing about shoes is this: they offer instant gratification, are often sexy, can make or break an outfit and most importantly – ARE FUN!
Possibly the ULTIMATE in women’s shoes are Christian Louboutin – every woman knows this name and how to pronounce it correctly. Those red soled classics that retail for an average of $1000 a pair. Impractical to a fault – after all, the more you walk in them, the more the red sole wears off until it disappears. And the status is gone. Further, any competitor offering any red soles that begin to infringe on the Louboutin style and brand, and would be dealt with swiftly by the Louboutin Shoe Police. Or Legal Department. Or both.
Now, something more reasonable is the $39.95 per pair experience from Shoedazzle.com – and the first pair is $10. OMG! Including free shipping. OMG again! Enough to make any practical shoe lover swoon with excitement.
Price point and quality aside, there has been an entire industry ($52 Billion in annual, global purchases – for ALL footwear -- casual, formal, men’s and women’s). Not even including that coordinated look of shoes, belts, and bags for that “matchy matchy” look.
Now, just in case you’re interested, men might have three pairs of shoes, OK four if you include athletic footwear. You find dress shoes you like in black then get the same thing in gray and brown. Maybe one pair has tassels and you wear them until they need to be re-soled. Pretty boring and predictable. Far from fun.
The classic woman’s shoe is the high heel. Designed by the Italians (surprise surprise) for a French noble wedding in 1533, some argue it was the ultimate design in misogynistic torture. Heels are not only a fashion statement, but affect posture, as tops and bottoms protrude a bit more in the ultimate balancing act. Similarly, they make it difficult to walk.
This all demands great resourcefulness, in wearing tennis shoes from the bus stop or parking garage to the office, then changing into heels in the lobby. And clicking on the tile floor.
Nothing gets a man’s attention quicker than the sound of heels clicking across a floor. Like a pair of castanets. Also, the realization that women’s fashion is often to capture the admiration of other women, not only the attention of the opposite sex.
Finally, the new face of retail has changed the landscape of the footwear industry. Back in the day, it seemed that 95% of the available retail space was occupied by women’s shoe stores, from 9 West to Tory Burch and Stuart Weitzman. And they ALL seemed to be popular, probably led by sale items in the doorway, then drawing consumers into the store when they saw something “so cute.”
Now, as in all product categories, the Internet rules. The $39.95 Shoedazzle example, previously mentioned, is just one example, transferring squeals from the store to the living room. But still exciting. Still fun. And an easy way to climb to your 19 pair shoe goal. And that's my best answer for what is it about shoes?