Delicate Shoes of Great Cost

Dolce & Gabbana Summer 2008    Manolo Likes!

Manolo says, the Manolo’s friend Linda Grant has recently purchased these Dolce & Gabbana shoes (in black patent), which sadly, have not withstood the test of (short) time and London streets.

I mentioned last week that I had bought a pair of Dolce & Gabbana shoes. I wore them for the first time on Thursday. When I got home the leather on the soles was pitted and worn away. I was going to take them back to Harvey Nichols for a refund but first went into my excellent local shoe repairers for an opinion. They told me that the shoes were not designed to be worn before having rubber soles put on them if you were going to wear them in the street, rather than carpet […]

To put the rubber half soles on the designer shoes, or to not put the rubber half soles on the designer shoes, that is the question.

While it is true that many cobblers and manufacturers recommend the professional attachment of the thin rubber half soles to the bottom of the designer shoes which are to be worn in the streets, to do so seems as if a) one is being defrauded by the manufacturer and b) one is destroying the integrity of the beautiful object.

The problem is that the shoes we most prize for their beauty and elegance are most often those which are exceedingly delicate, and are not designed for daily wear on the wet and muddy streets of the big city. Worse, the ultimate impracticality of the beautiful shoe is sometimes part of its charm, even if it does not seem fair that $600 shoes should display signs of wear so quickly.

So, what is the solution? Certainly, premium designers and manufacturers must only use the highest quality leather (something the Dolce and the Gabbana have clearly not done in this case, and more shame to them for it).

But even with the best and most durable leathers, the problem of design intrudes, as we wish our most precious shoes to be exquisite, light as the feather, and possessed of thin soles and delicate features, all things which run counter to our desire for durability, and the laws of nature.

And this is how it shall ever be, sturdiness and delicacy in eternal conflict, for as long as we maintain our justifiable love of natural materials.

18 Responses to “Delicate Shoes of Great Cost”

  1. The Thoughtful Dresser March 27, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    I have just, 15 minutes ago, picked up the shoes from the shoe repairer. He charged me £13.50 (that’s about $27) to resole the shoes and explained he had thinned the rubber soles as much as he could to preserve the integrity of the design. He, who is a muscular and handsome young North London Greek Cypriot, much admired in the neighbourhood by ladies who love the shoes, told me that in his experience, the best made shoes are Gina and Dior.

    But he did say, several times, those are very nice shoes, you got.

  2. Leah March 27, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Oh…. so sad. Whilst I am green with envy that some can afford the $600 shoes and I, as a lowly public servant, can barely afford lunch, I am most dismayed to hear of Ms. Grant’s plight, and I pray for buff firemen (or women, if she so prefers, as we never assume such things here on the Manolosphere) with the gentle sense of humor to come into her life, bearing the brand new D&G shoes, fitted with rubber half-soles.

  3. Cristina March 27, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Manolo, thanks for posting entries like these. I enjoy reading thoughtful, new content, and there’s always something to learn on your site.
    Ms. Grant: sorry about your shoes. I hope the rubber sole helps and more than that, I hope your legs look wicked in them.
    Me, I always apply rubber soles on my expensive shoes, even if it ‘uglifies’ the shoe. I’m too cheap: if I splurge on a shoe, it better last my remaining 50 years! (Ugly, cheap shoes: I hope they die as soon as possible).

  4. deja pseu March 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    The Deja has made her peace with erring on the side of durability, and always adds the rubber half soles to any leather-soled shoes prior to wear. May she also add that leather soles can be quite slick on wet surfaces, and having slipped and fallen from such, she is also resigned to err on the side of safety.

  5. Poochie March 27, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    I am and am not surprised that her shoes did not seem to be lasting that long, inspite of the cost. I’m reading Deluxe right now and its sad how the quality of these once luxury goods are being compromised and using inferior materials to raise the profit levels.

    I wear my “good” shoes all the time and have not had this problem yet. But I am very careful of my shoes and will often bring flats with me and wear driving shoes in the car. I’ve had some of mine for years and years. But you do have to maintain.

    Luv
    Poochie

  6. Maryann March 27, 2008 at 1:26 pm #

    I understand the issue, but judging just from the photo, those shoes seem like they should be able to be worn on the street — they are beautifully designed, but it’s not as if they are some sort of strappy satin confection…I probably would have added the rubber soles.

  7. The Thoughtful Dresser March 27, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    You’re quite correct, Marryann, these are not primarily evening shoes. I bought them as day-to-evening, ie that they could be worn on either occasion. They should be able to take the London streets. I have them on now, waiting for a cab to take me to an art opening, and they do feel more stable and sturdy with the rubber soles. In my view the manufacturers should provide optional soles which you can have attached if you wish.

  8. Carrie's Shoe Review March 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Rubber soles or not, I love those shoes! I wouldn’t have guessed them to be so flimsy either. I have to say though, that I’m not a fan of adding the rubber soles for aesthetic reasons only. I keep flats in my car and in my bag.

  9. dangster March 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    I’ve tried an alternative to having my cobbler put rubber soles on my shoes–buying those stick-on soles from Foot Petals. While they are quicker and cheaper, the soles aren’t big enough to adequately cover that bottom half of my shoe, so sometimes I still have to bring my shoes to the cobbler to get them soled.

  10. Anon March 27, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Having lived in both London and New York City, I can say that London was infinitely more brutal on my shoes than NYC. I blame it on the wonky paving and cobblestones. (Did I say wonky? I meant character-rich.)

    That said, here’s an interesting scientific study for the fashionista/doctoral candidate out there: What’s the average wear and tear you can expect on a high-quality pair of shoes in a sample set of major cities, respectively? The industrial implications would be boundless! The scientist/esse would be lauded on the runways! Surely there is grant money lying around! Surely there *ought* to be!

  11. Anon March 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    And if it’s any consolation, Ms. Grant, no sooner did I don these D&Gs outside did I encounter the same problem: http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/27712259/c/51275.html

    I call it the Pox of the Sole.

  12. Lilly Munster March 27, 2008 at 7:40 pm #

    Back in the “dark ages” of fashion, all quality shoes had leather soles, and although not as durable as rubber, they certainly lasted more than one day before needing repair or replacement. Shame on D & G.

  13. Miss Cavendish March 27, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    I’ve watched as the price of “good” shoes has risen by some $2-300, seemingly overnight. If we are asked to pay $600 for a pair of shoes, the very, very least the designer/manufacturer can do is to make them wearable. Inflated cost should not be matched with deflated quality.

  14. Eric March 27, 2008 at 8:39 pm #

    This is what annoys me. Would-be fashionistas justify expensive items because of the “quality,” but clearly not all expensive things are of quality. How can we know what is and what is not worth the cost?

  15. Nancy March 28, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    When I lived in NYC, I always took my shoes to Angelo Fontana on 10th St. for repair and maintenance. And always upon buying a new pair of shoes they went right to Mr. Fontana for half soles and heels, no matter their cost. Unfortunately Mr. Fontana has been forced out of his location by a mean greedy landlord, but ladies, take care of your shoes, expensive or inexpensive. I have shoes that Mr. Fontana took care of 10 years ago that I still wear. I miss him dearly. And I love my shoes.

  16. chaser March 28, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    I had no idea that you should have soles put on the shoes! Now granted, I don’t buy $600 shoes as they usually aren’t wide enough for my feet.

  17. littlem March 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    I am so with Miss Cavendish. Plus, inflationary price insanity aside, something seems sinister about the feminine helplessness not being able to escape from an urban emergency because one’s shoes can’t stand up to the street. Does anyone else notice that boys don’t ever seem to have this conundrum?

    “Having lived in both London and New York City, I can say that London was infinitely more brutal on my shoes than NYC.”

    Oh, dear.

    My gentle suggestion is not to go to the Boston unless you have the limo and the bodyguard to carry you from limo to shopping door.

  18. Gigi April 27, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    I’m sorry I did see this post so late, but I’d like to leave a comment on it, I’m working in fashion shoes’ manufacture in Italy since 29 years, and I have to say that D&G shoes as many other high fashion brands are made with the best components is possible, of course need the rubber sole to preserve the integrity of the shoes for any situation but fashion design sometime cannot meet all this.

    I think there is a big misunderstanding here, may be most of the people ignore and doesn’t really know , what is a good shoe.

    I’m sorry to see all this on such a nice web site…