Friday, July 5, 2019

A Year Later: The Shoes of Spring/Summer

Outside of my trusty FitFlops, the vast majority of the shoes I currently wear in the warmer seasons are approximately a year old. I bought my trusty Sam Edelman Loraine loafers in black leather (now on sale in limited sizeslast May, the same month I bought my somewhat impractical Soludos llama slip-on sneakers in pale pink canvas (discontinued, but discounted in navy blue or burgundy velvet). I'd bought my M.Gemi Felize in gold shimmer-effect leather that March (discontinued, similar gold leather). I also bought a pair of Rothy's Points last June, and was really hoping they'd be as durable for me as they are for many of my colleagues, such that I'd still be wearing them now. But alas, that was not to be, and I got barely a few months of heavy use from them before they started developing holes in the outer edges, the way all other ballet flats also tend to do on me.

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That was a lot of shoe shopping in just a few short months last year, but part of my rationale was that I wanted enough pairs that I wouldn't need to wear the same ones two days or more in a row, in hopes of getting more longevity from my shoes than I did before. Now that I've had most of my spring/summer shoes for a year (the Sam Edelman loafers also get worn in fall/winter, but not the rest), I thought it was a good time for an update on how these shoes were doing, whether I was actually getting a longer lifespan from them than before. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the styles I choose, or my wide feet and my manner of walking, or because I don't yet do much work to maintain my shoes, this update won't sound too impressive or exciting. While I don't think I'll need any new shoes for spring/summer this year, I don't expect that the shoes I currently have for those seasons will last too much longer into next year, particularly if I need my shoes to be presentable-looking at work.

Sam Edelman Loraine loafers, black leather: These have gotten the most wear by far, as I also use them frequently in fall-winter, so long as there's not too much slush and ice on the ground. I've gotten them reheeled once, within the first three months, but they haven't needed another visit to the cobbler since, though they'll need another trip there soon. In terms of physical condition and sturdiness, these loafers are holding up fairly well, having only accumulated a few small scuffs, just normal wear and tear. As I observed when I bought them, they're made of a very soft, pliable leather which makes them fairly comfortable if they fit your feet well, but likely isn't as good for their durability. In terms of aesthetics though, the leather is starting to look quite worn-in and dull because I haven't done anything to maintain them, outside of the one time I got them reheeled. (Not sure if this is the type of thing shoe polish is good for, as I'm completely clueless about shoe care and maintenance!) 

If I'm not able to learn how to maintain these loafers better, then I'm not sure how much longer they'd stay presentable-looking for work. It'd be a pity if I couldn't spiff up the leather a bit and get them looking better, since they've otherwise proven to be comfortable and sturdy. One additional note: From my experience with the gold glitter version, which are made of fabric rather than leather, the fabric ones are not as durable. A rip developed last month long one of the seams on one of my gold glitter loafers, and I'd generally only been wearing them once a week since I got them, so they hadn't seen anywhere near as much heavy use as my leather ones, which have not had this problem. 

M.Gemi Felize, gold shimmer-effect leather (similar): I'm very careful with these and never wear them out if there's any chance of rain, so they generally only end up getting used once a week, a little less often this year because we had a rainy start to the summer. I'd never before owned a pair of driving moccasin-style loafers with rubber pegs instead of an actual sole on the bottom, and I was a little concerned these shoes would wear out very quickly, but they haven't been too terrible on that front. It was only towards the end of last summer that some of the rubber pegs near the heel started getting close to being so worn down that the leather on the bottom of the shoe would start rubbing against the ground soon. The outer edge of my right shoe is also starting to rub against the sidewalk a little, thanks to my wide feet and the way I walk, though it isn't too close to developing a hole yet, it's just that some of the gold shimmer-effect on the surface has started to rub off. I think these shoes will last through part of next summer if I continue wearing them once a week-ish, though not too much longer than that.

As someone who doesn't have remotely adventurous tastes in shoes, I continue to find M.Gemi's business model perplexing, because it seems to be so focused on constantly developing trendy new styles, colors, and leather textures, including the shimmer effect on my loafers. They so rarely stock their more classic designs, like this Felize or the similar Pastoso, in neutral shades of leather. (I continue to resolutely avoid suede shoes of all kinds because I think they wouldn't do well on NYC's super-grimy sidewalks.) Even if M.Gemi's bread and butter is weekly releases of limited runs of exciting new styles, I suppose I'd imagine that it should still be a no-brainer to also consistently stock more classic, neutral shoes as well, since I'd have assumed there'd always be a market for those more "boring" designs, the kind that almost never go on sale from other brands either.

Soludos llama slip-on sneakers (navy velvet, burgundy velvet): Similar with the Felizes, I also try not to wear these out if there's even the faintest chance of rain. I'm almost more careful with these than the Felize because the pale pink canvas is so prone to getting dirty! I ended up wearing these about once a week last year, but have only used them once this year because we had such rainy and unpredictable weather for a while. As with the Sam Edelman loafers, when it comes to the physical condition of these slip-ons, they're holding up well. The only flaw they've taken on now is aesthetic, that they're already looking noticeably dingy despite infrequent wear, as can be expected due to their light color. With the llama applique and the cork-looking insole, I doubt these could be machine-washed like some other sneakers.

With slip-on sneakers like these, I'd expect them to be durable enough to last through a good long period of frequent wear, at least if they weren't a color that's prone to showing dirt and dust. I suppose I should have learned from that mostly-white pair of Keds I wore a lot back in 2015 to 2016 that slip-on sneakers in light-colored fabric are just not a very functional choice when one lives in NYC and does a ton of walking! I'd be better off with something like the black leather Vans I wore from 2016 to 2018.

Rothy's Points, gray birdseye: Well, I don't have these anymore because they weren't capable of enduring a full year of frequent use at my hands! It was such a big disappointment too, because they're not cheap, and they do also have some noticeable advantages over most other ballet flats I've ever tried. So many of my women colleagues really love these and have been wearing theirs frequently, including on their commutes, for ages, certainly well over a year. I'd hoped I would have a similar experience. Alas, I think it's just the way I walk, I grind down almost all of my ballet flat-style shoes with remarkable speed, in as little as a month or two of frequent wear. On me, these Rothy's points lasted around three months of 3-4x/week wear before they started developing holes in the outer edges.

I would still recommend Rothy's to other people who don't destroy their ballet flats the way I do. They're remarkably comfortable for a ballet flat, I was able to walk around NYC and stand in them all day most days, which I can no longer do with other ballet flats. I also loved how light and easily packable they are for travel. Being machine-washable (cold water wash and air dry only,  I'm told that any exposure to heat will cause them to shrink) was a huge plus, though because they're made of recycled plastic, they did make my feet sweaty, and the shoes would get quite smelly very quickly between washes. Being plastic and machine-washable, exposure to rain will not cause lasting damage, though I did hate how they felt on my feet when they were damp, so if I got badly rained on during my morning commute, I'd need to switch to other shoes at my desk for the rest of the day. (And they generally wouldn't be fully dry yet by the end of the day, when it was time to head home.)

What does a proper shoe care and maintenance regime, particularly for good leather shoes, look like anyway? I'm eager to learn, and any suggestions would be much appreciated (and of course, the internet provides many easily found and helpful resources for such things, which I'll also look into). Additionally, I'm still daydreaming about someday having a pair of those famous Gucci Jordaan loafers in black leather, after seeing, on another woman while we were both in an elevator, how much sleeker and more chic they looked compared to my well-worn Sam Edelmans. But I wouldn't dare buy a pair of shoes that fancy if I hadn't first learned to take scrupulously good care of them first!

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