Let’s do some maths on the value of shoes. The same equations apply to almost any piece of quality clothing, but I like shoes.
This is essentially an argument for investment. It is a use of numbers to demonstrate why that feeling that you should save and buy something better is worth paying attention to. Buy some good old-fashioned value; it will repay you many times over, and here’s why.
Most pairs of shoes won’t last a man more than three years. That may sound pessimistic, but three years is longer than you think. Consider your pairs of shoes, ones that are worn regularly, as work shoes or something similar. Within three years they will usually have cracked uppers or the soles will have broken and cannot be replaced.
Even a cheap pair of welted, leather-soled shoes that can have heels and soles replaced, will be unlikely to last much more than three years. You’ll replace the sole once, maybe twice, before other aspects of the shoe give way or the welt becomes irreparably damaged.
A pair of quality, benchmade shoes will last more than five years and could last more than 10. It depends on the quality of the make – benchmade shoes vary range £150 to £750. But any will last longer than anything cemented from the mid-range trendy place on the corner. Benchmade means that the shoes are constructed by men placing each shoe into an old Victorian machine for each of the various stages required, from lasting to burnishing. The machines create force and a little precision; it’s a long way from mass production.
Now even a cheap pair of benchmade shoes could cost 50% more than those cemented ones you wore before. But they will last at least 66% longer (the difference from three to five years). So if you used to buy a new pair each time the old pair wore out, with the same budget you will now be able to buy a second pair after 4.5 years that overlaps with the first. The first pair will be worn less often, extending its life, and the second pair will go for more than five years because it is not the sole workhorse. By the time you can afford the next pair, the first may just have given up the ghost but the second will be going strong – by pair number four you may have three wearable pairs of shoes.
The saving is cumulative. That’s how investment works. It takes time but before you know it you have a small collection of shoes, as the greater lifetime of each increases the overlap between them. Plus, better shoes can be resoled and refurbished more easily, more cheaply. Good quality companies have good customer service. So they may well be resoled three times or more.
Plus, the more you like your shoes the more you will look after them. You are more likely to polish them and use cream; you are more likely to make the small investment in shoe trees; you may get into the habit of brushing them at the end of every day. All these things will make the shoes last longer, too.
Investment is slow to start but it accelerates exponentially. Bear with first gear for a while.