Not so long ago, at least that’s what I tell myself, I was a college student with a passion for fashion, but limited by funds and access to the finer things in life. It didn’t bother me, though–there were plenty of department stores and shoe warehouses to keep me and the average low-ish income American turned out in reasonable quality. I got a thrill when I entered the Nine West store in the good ol’ Oaks Mall. Steve Maddens were the hot thing, and I didn’t mind stretching my budget for a fifty, sixty dollar pair of shoes with a little quality and style.
Now, I’m a grown-ass woman. With a real job, and the ability to buy what I damn well please within reason. A large, thrifty stone on the other side of the scale of my life is a husband who is the world’s best in so many ways but believes any clothing item that costs more than $14.99 is a major purchase. So to humor dear hubby, I thought to return to my old college ways in search of a pair of summer sandals. Nothing fancy, just a nice pair of leather wedges–maybe a wooden or cork sole. Typical shoes, easy to find, shouldn’t cost much.
WRONG! The mid-level shoe stores are now selling crap. The same stuff they’re selling in WalMart and PayLess, except with those places you know what you’re getting–crappy synthetic shoes that make you feel like a mink caught in a leg trap by the end of the day but at spouse-pleasing prices. The department stores are selling this garbage too. Still Nine West, still Steve Madden, still fifty bucks or more. Only they’re WalMart shoes.
Is there a leather shortage? I literally went to every shoe store and department store in the mall (not the best mall, but still). Everything in sight was faux-leather, faux cork, faux everything but the price. Since then I’ve looked every time I’ve been out, and unless I’m holding a pair that retails for over $100, it’s the same damn thing. And if you’re vegan, I’m sorry. I really am. But don’t worry, some brands are using that as a selling point so you can spend even more on crap shoes and handbags than us non-vegan slobs.
We American consumers have allowed ourselves to get screwed so much that we barely even notice it’s happening anymore. Do you ever get that irrational thrill when something you’ve purchased works properly? Doesn’t fall apart the first time you use it? Well, I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore! No more cheap shoes for me!
So here’s the two-part challenge:
1. I challenge you to find a pair of Steve Madden shoes that are made of leather.
2. I challenge you to find a pair of ladies’ leather shoes, NOT made in China, under $100. No, let’s make it interesting: under $50. Do they even exist?