I know I’m a podiatrist so buying shoes for my kids is probably easier for me than most mums but I was surprised at the recent fuss made over school shoes for girls. Are Clarks really being discriminatory? Or are they just like any business that needs to make a profit and therefore selling what is most sought after?
I myself went to Clarks early August for the annual school shoe shop, first one for my youngest! I chose one of their outlet stores due to buying 2 pairs this year. I think its become a bit of a tradition really with most families and even I am caught in the ‘must go to Clarks’ trap.
I have to admit buying for my 6 year old boy was a lot easier than my 4 year old girl, despite the fact they have similar feet and both wear some insoles for a bit of extra support.
A nice pair of black robust shoes with triple velcro strapping, tested the length, checked the width, quick check around the heels, all with him standing then tested his balance in them and got him to walk and run up and down in the shop. Perfect! jobs a good’n….
Now, when it came to looking at the girls selection on offer it was ok I suppose, not brilliant and initially lady Lois did try to point out the forbidden ‘dolly’ style shoes with no straps, far too low cut and too flimsy. They have very thin soles and just don’t look like they’d offer much in the way of support or protection. In fact they could have been folded up and put in a pocket….
Now I know my daughter and I know she will be wanting to run around that playground, jump, climb and hop as much as her older brother so they just weren’t an option. We did get sorted and £48 for both pairs was a result for me.
In all honesty I would have preferred a t-bar pair for her though. She has quite a high instep and I know they suit her foot type. They also offer much more support and if you test your child balancing in their shoes a t-bar with a buckle performs much better than a horizontal velcro strap. They did have lace ups but we just haven’t mastered that one yet.
Then there was the post from a mum ‘Shame on you Clarks’ which went viral…… So I decided to do my own little bit of retail research – ‘any excuse’.
There is actually loads of choice if you shop around and in fact a lot of the shops are selling really quite robust, well made girls shoes that don’t look like boys shoes if that’s the issue.
I looked at specialist shoe shops that can give you that personalised experience such as Little Wanderers or Whittakers in Bolton who sell a range of popular and less well known brands. This gives you the choice of different fittings, meaning you’re choice is not limited. I also looked at high street shops and was pleasantly surprised by the choice in Schuh, especially for the fussier teenage shopper and unless you have the snob factor to consider I would highly recommend you look in Wynsors. What a great choice of back to school shoes they had. They had a full range of Kickers in stock and I purchased the desired chunkier shoe with a T-bar for my 4 year old that I had wanted all along, and bonus, they had the flashing lights so she was happy too.
In summary as long as you’re prepared to shop around there is more choice now than there has ever been. If you don’t like the selection on offer then shop elsewhere.
The one thing the retailers can’t help you with is what your daughter would prefer to chose and for that I would advise you say “no, not for school”, especially if they head towards the dolly shoes that are just not appropriate for 7 hours a day for 9 months of the year.
Dr. Lindsay Hill @ Axis Podiatry