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We all heard the cliché phrase “I’m not that rich to buy cheap products.” Common sense dictates that obviously buying a product that last longer will be a better investment. But how much are you actually saving and should you invest in work shoes? Let’s have a look at the numbers first and then see where they’re coming from.

  • Shoes that cost $100 or less would last about 4 months in average. This means that it will cost $300 a year to wear this price tag shoes due to the need of constant replacement;
  • $200 shoes give lifetime of about 12 months, which is equal to $200 spend a year;
  • $350 shoes give lifetime of about 3 years, which is equal to $120 spent a year;
  • $450 shoes give lifetime of about 7 years, which is equal to $65 spent a year;
  • and finally, $650 shoes give quality of about 15+ years lifetime, which is equal to $45 spent a year.


Loake brogue
Smart casual brogue shoes by Loake England 1880

The bulk of shoes that we get in NZ are made in Asian countries; however, the quality of the shoes nowadays mainly depends on the quality of the material used rather than the country of origin where it‘s made. When your shoes have their upper separating from the soles, this is a poor craftsmanship, but it can be fixed relatively easy to the intended durability. When soles of your shoe split or leather upper have ripped after only a few weeks or months, then it is an issue of a poor quality of the material, and there is very little can be done about that.

If it has come undone it is fixable, but if the material has fallen apart, then the shoes go to the rubbish bin. What determines the quality of the shoes in the modern day manufacturing is the quality of the material used. As long as the shoes are made from good quality leather, you can get an amazing product made in Asia that would last you a good decade.

Shoes under $100 New Zealand Dollars most likely won’t have real leather and shoes between $100 and $200 will have poorer quality leather that was cured using cheap process. Some brands go little further by slightly increasing the quality of leather but putting the price tag up to $250 – $300, so you might be thinking you are buying a decent quality, but in reality, it’s just an expensive junk.

An average person who works full time will wear his shoes five days a week, 8 hours every day. With about 250 thousand sweat pores in human feet he loses around ½ a cup of moisture every day that goes inside his shoes. Let this settles for a little bit. That is ½ a cup of human moisture every day going inside your shoes. Shoes that made from imitation leather or poor quality leather have very little moisture absorbing capabilities. They simply fall apart. In fact, you don’t have to walk a lot for them to do so. It’s the moisture from your feet that does the damage.

$219 dollar shoes that gave up after 8 months. Classic example of overpriced junk

Statistically shoes under $100 will last 4 months in average if worn on a daily basis such as work shoes. Most of those are made from imitation leather. These shoes are in the replacement business. They cost so little to manufacture that the replacement value is built in the retail price of the shoes. If every shoe of this quality were replaced under the warranty, the manufacturer would still make money.

Shoes priced around $150-$200 dollars will have little improvement in leather quality. They will look better outside and have better deign and shape, but inside still have a very weak liner made from thin pigskin or cheap fabric. Neither can absorb a lot of moisture from your feet. The upper leather also will not hold structurally, and the shoes will go out of shape pretty quickly. These shoes are designed to last as far as the warranty goes so the consumer is forced to buy next pair soon after the 12 months warranty expired. This practice becomes a regular expense and lot of people simply learned to live with that.

Shoes priced around $250-$350 dollars are made from better leather uppers and the higher quality fabric is used in the lining. If the wearer is sensible, they can last up to 3-5 years on average. The consumer has to be very careful though as this is the price range where a lot of misconceptions start. General public will believe that they spend enough to get quality shoes, and lots of brands use that to imply quality. In this price range, we can find a lot of examples of fashionable or simply popular shoe brands that charge this amount due to their name rather than the actual quality while the real price tag should have been low $200’s or less.

Barker Nevis, made in England since 1880. Shoes of this quality would generally last 10-15 years in average.

The price tag of $400-$500 will give you either hard wearing strong leather shoes that designed for everyday use or fashion shoes that made from decent but soft leather. Those that are made from soft Italian leathers are mainly designed to be dress shoes rather than for working purpose. Indeed, they will last around 4 years of daily wear providing that they are well looked after, but those with same price tag, but harder leather will go for 7 years on average. That is the price tag when it is crucial to use the shoes for the intended purpose.

Shoes that are $600+ will give you either superb leather quality and very long life or be of a high fashion nature such as some of the top Italian fashion brands. In our opinion, you need to be careful when you use the latter ones for work purpose.

Now you can see how the above calculations are justified.
An example:
John true to his father’s teachings invests in good quality shoes and buys $650 English handmade business shoes for work that last him good 15 years.
His friend Peter doesn’t believe in spending money on good shoes. Instead, he spends as little as possible and spends around $100 a pair that he has to replace around 3 times a year.

By the time John wears down his $650 dollar shoes that will take him around 15 years, his friend Peter will waste as much as $4,500 on shoes over the same period.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there as there are different activities in life, so we need different shoes. Statistically, over 15 years John will spend around $2,000 on shoes while his friend Peter will spend as much as $10,000 if he keeps buying poor quality footwear.

It is important to remember that buying more expensive shoes does not automatically means you are buying quality or the right shoes for the purpose.
At T.Clark Shoes, we dedicate ourselves to only stock the product which quality matches the price tag. When you are on a market for the next purchase of shoes, come to our specialist store and share your needs with us so we could help you to select a product that is designed for the right purpose.