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How Long Should a Good Pair of Shoes Last?

Does a pair of shoes have an expiration date? Absolutely. But how long depends on multiple factors. After all, one size doesn’t fit all. To some, getting more use out of a pair of shoes may seem pointless when there are so many cheap replacements just a tap away on your phone or laptop. But fast fashion is having a serious impact on the environment.

The UK Government’s ‘Fixing Fashion’ report revealed that around 300,000 tonnes of used clothes/footwear are burned or buried in landfills each year. And it’s not just impacting the environment. Your back pocket is taking a hit too. In this blog, we explore the average lifespan of a shoe and share the secrets to giving them a long and healthy life.

So, how long should a pair of shoes last? According to SoleScience, a pair of shoes will last 8-12 months. However, a shoe’s lifespan depends on the type of shoe, your weight, activity and lifestyle choices. To tell if your shoes are wearing out, you should set them side by side on top of a level surface. Can you see if the shoes are unlevel with the surface? Perhaps a visible slant on the heel or sole? If so, I’m afraid you have a worn-out pair of shoes. Of course, different shoes have different purposes. For example, walking shoes take up a different intention compared to a smart pair of leather brogues. Nevertheless, shoes should be expected to withstand the intended purpose, no matter the activity or occasion they’re designed for. Verywell Fit states a walking shoe has around a 500-mile limit. This distance translates to a walking shoe lasting six months if you walk for at least 30 minutes per day. 

On the other hand, a running shoe has a 500-700 kilometres limit. This timeframe should be easier to gauge as most runners will keep track of their distances. As for a good quality pair of shoes, such as leather Oxfords or brogues, you could make them last for multiple years and clock up thousands of miles. Seattle Times reports a pair of leather dress shoes can last anywhere from five to fifteen years. Not bad compared to the walking/running shoe. But in theory, there’s no reason a good quality pair of leather dress shoes can’t last a lifetime. The secret is knowing how.

Shoe Maintenance Tips

#1 Find a Home 

After a long day at work or coming home from a night out on the tiles, it’s easy to kick off our shoes and hit the hay. But long-lasting footwear deserves its own special storage space. Even though they belong on the floor when they’re on your feet, you should always keep your shoes off the floor when they’re not in use. Whether you use a shoe rack or tree, storing your shoes off the ground will keep them in better condition. Categorise your shoes from best to worse, with the best at the top of the storage. 

#2 Understand Gait 

Our feet roll when we walk. This results from the pattern of our limb movements as we stride, better known as gait. Besides carelessness, gait is the number one enemy when it comes to shoe maintenance. With a nice pair of leather dress shoes, we can normally identify the effects of gait on the sole. Recognising where the soles are wearing early on will show you where you need to install a steel heel protector or get your shoes resoled. 

#3 Condition and Clean 

Another tip is to polish, clean, and condition your shoes – especially the upper part. The key is to prevent the leather from getting stiff and cracking. Be mindful of the toe box too. Once you damage this part of the shoe, you’ll struggle to fix it. 

#4 Find a Top Cobbler 

Never underestimate the importance of a cobbler. When the time comes for a new sole, a trusted cobbler can breathe new life into your favourite pair of shoes. As old fashioned as it may sound, cobbled shoes are built to last. As they used to say, “They don’t make them like they used to.”

Invest in Quality 

They say you can’t polish a gent’s faeces. Well, the same goes for a poorly made pair of shoes. However, if they aren’t made from quality materials by trusted hands, you’re wasting your time. A good quality pair of leather dress shoes can last for years. While they might cost you more upfront, you’ll make a significant saving in the long run. A tell-tale sign of a good pair of shoes is their construction. Goodyear welted construction is one of the oldest methods of shoemaking, dating back to the mid-to-late 19th century. Despite being over 150 years old, Goodyear welted is still arguably the best method of shoemaking

Its sustained popularity is due to the quality of the construction process and its ability for repairs. Investing in quality makes a difference to the environment too. Sadly, a staggering 20 billion shoes get manufactured each year, with one pair pumping 30 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So, the next time you buy a pair of shoes, choose genuine quality. You’ll not only save yourself some money and do your part for the environment, but you'll also manage to make your shoes last a lifetime.


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