If the Shoe Fits

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, June 25, 2009; 4:26 PM

For some women, the unthinkable is about to happen.

Shoemaker Jimmy Choo is making a discount pump. Such news certainly has the Post's wonderful fashion writer in a snit.

"There's something about cheap Jimmy Choo shoes that doesn't feel right," wrote Robin Givhan recently in Well-Heeled, But With a Bill You Can Foot (June 21).

"Unlike ready-to-wear, women's shoes have been sold on a centuries-old mythology that makes the discovery that Jimmy Choo can produce a desirable pair of shoes for less than $50 as jarring as when Dorothy pulled back the curtain on the Wizard."

A basic pump for a regularly priced Jimmy Choo shoe is about $550, Givhan reports. Perhaps reacting to the recession and a downturn in the luxury market, Choo is teaming up with retailer H&M to offer a limited, lower-priced collection of his footwear.

Personally I don't give a rat's behind about Choo shoes. I've long since traded comfort for shoes that pinch my feet or increase the corns on my toes. Then again I've never been a fan of high-priced pumps. Why women will spend hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes they can barely walk in for a hundred yards is beyond me.

Of course, Givhan understands the shoe obsession.

"For less than a thousand dollars, a woman can get a name-dropping label, a trendy silhouette, price-point exclusiveness and the aura of celebrity endorsements," she writes.

And that's exactly what's wrong with our consumerist society. It's one of the reasons we're in a recession - reaching for the look and feel of wealth without the true means to support those eye-popping purchases.

Some people will look down on the women wearing the cheaper Choo shoes. But you know what? When Dorothy and her cohorts pulled that curtain exposing the wizard who wasn't a wizard, they also realized that they had all that they needed without the wizardry.

When will we abandon this need for brands to make us feel superior?

At least some people are coming to their senses. A recent study found consumers are forgoing brand loyalty for low prices at the grocery store. Read more in Recession Takes Bite Out of Brand Loyalty.

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