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Foot Health
Q: Has the measuring gauge fallen by the wayside because it meant,
especially as they offered breadths as well as length, that shoe suppliers
had to hold too much stock?
A: Hard to say because the majority of shops are ‘serve yourself shops’
(stack them high sell them cheap) with independent retailers in the
minority. That is why it is so important for independents to specialise,
give a better service and be more qualified than anyone else, get out of
their shops and see what others are doing, how they are displaying their
goods, do they have an internet presence, have they been to all the schools
and playgroups in the area, do they need to have special promotions etc.
There is no substitute for a personal service – as long as it is worthwhile.
A member of staff who has no product or fitting knowledge and cannot
make a consumer feel good about being in the shop and purchasing
something, may as well not be there at all. That is the difference between
a shop assistant (someone who merely gets the shoes from the stockroom)
and someone who ‘sells’ and is either a sales person or trained shoe fitter.
Q: How does the shoe fitter cope, if there aren’t enough sizes available in
a shoe that the client wants to buy?
“Shoes are today’s celebrities – the public know nothing about them
other than what is fashion and what is not, but do not appreciate
what goes into designing them, how they are constructed, what
materials are used and why, and the importance of fit and how they
are the only item of clothing/covering that can seriously damage
your physiology.”
Laura West, Secretary of the Society of Shoe Fitters
A: It will vary between a ‘shoe fitter’ and a sales person. We ask our
members to advise on the best fitting shoe, however you often have to fit
a head before you fit someone’s feet, and if they are determined to have A: Too dangerous to answer this question explicitly – a real can of worms!
the shoes they like all we can do is try to make the shoe fit more We give the ‘fitting benefits’ of specific brands to our members and
comfortably or securely. We teach our members how to add small students when asked, but are never critical because it does depend on the
orthotic materials to give greater fit (not heel grips), but if that is not fitting mix of your stock and your customer base. If you are in an area
acceptable to the consumer and they are determined to buy something highly populated by a specific ethnicity, then their feet will be a certain
that the fitter knows is wrong, they are advised to put SF on the receipt shape, and having the right brand of shoes to suit their shape is helpful.
(self-fitted) and not accept the return when it inevitably comes back
through the door. Q: Does the problem vary from shoe model to shoe model or batch to batch?
Q: Is the problem that each manufacturer has its own shoe dimensions for A: Not usually, but can happen, more noticeably if the same shoe is being
the accepted shoe sizes? made in two different factories. It is all about the ‘lasting tolerance’ that
the country of origin or factory used.
A: Yes, sort of. Shoes are made on a last and the shape of the last
determines the shape and fit of the shoe. At one time ‘lasts’ were the Q: Do shoes coming from different countries have different dimensions for
most expensive and therefore most closely guarded item in a shoe factory. the accepted shoe sizes – are Chinese shoes bigger than Italian shoes for
Now with shoes being made in overseas factories making more than one the same accepted shoe size?
brand, it is impossible for lasts to be protected in the same way. What was
helpful to fitters in the past was that the ‘last number’ of each shoe was A: Yes, country of origin definitely affects the overall shape and fit of the
printed in the suppliers catalogues. Some lasts were so well designed they shoes they produce. Bear in mind that a factory will always try to sell to
fitted a variety of different shaped feet, so the retailer knew that if a shoe their home market first and foremost. The knowledge of their own feet
made on a specific last fitted well and inevitably sold out, it would be a definitely plays a part. Obviously if a UK supplier gives a foreign factory
safe bet to order shoes made on the same last the next season. their lasts to produce shoes, then the shoes should be uniform in size and
fitting – but experience shows it does depend on the country in which
Q: Which manufacturers shoes are “on the big side” and which are “on the they are made, as the lasting tolerance even heat in the factory, will affect
small size”? Or -is there not consistency even between manufacturers? the leather and lasting process.
JANUARY 2010

FOOTWEAR TODAY

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