Simple question really but one of those questions that is both child’s play but also a serious design issue.
During the 1980s back in the day, a trip to the shoe shop meant having my feet measured not just for length but also for width. Clarks had this strange machine that we had to stick our feet into that the movement of four metal blocks would help decide what our shoe size would be. I want to know who stole that machine. My issue being that they don’t seem to have it any more – nor do any other shoe shops.
At the moment I seem to be restricted to shoe shops that have understood the concept of people’s feet not being the same width – yes, it’s a problem for us blokes too.
That’s not my only moan about shoes; I also have an issue with leather-soled shoes. Why are they so uncomfortable? Much as I sympathise with the concept of shoes that breathe, walking in hard-leather-soled shoes has the feeling of walking on granite in bare feet. For someone like me that means knees getting shot to pieces. Not a good feeling.
Therefore I’m in this minority of people who find that the high street doesn’t really cater for them. This means spending months at a time waiting for TK Maxx to come up with a pair of shoes wide enough that boutiques cannot get rid of that I find are reasonably suitable, or having to search online. My record of searching for shoes online is not a good one. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to try on my shoes before buying them, avoiding the hassle of having to pay for the return postage when I inevitably find the first pair don’t fit.
The wider societal issue is that of general health. Bad backs and bad shoes? Bad feet and bad shoes? Internet searches will come up with lots of articles on these issues – and a number of health product manufacturers have been providing solutions to the symptoms of feet problems. What I’ve not found are any studies that comprehensively look at the issue of how our choice of footwear affects our health. I’m interested in your comments (and links) to sound articles which look at these problems and anything that makes a reasonable effort to quantify what the impact bad shoes have on people and society. Should we be asking shoe designers to design (fashionable) footwear as if feet matter?