The fashion industry is huge; of course, it is, It’s awash with all sorts of different garments for different women with different tastes and for different occasions. And yet, in the UK at least, it doesn’t seem the shoe industry follows the same principle – because if you’re a woman with so-called larger feet, you may find it difficult, more often than not, to find footwear that fits.
Fortunately, this isn’t something that afflicts the majority of women in Britain – precisely because most of them have average or smaller-than-average feet and so don’t constantly suffer from painful feet or even their toes hanging off the ends of their sandals in the warmer months. But what about that minority of women for whom it’s a continuous headache and – well – foot-ache? What can they do and, actually, why is it an issue for them?
Feet are changing; shoe sizes aren’t
Yes, believe it or not, it’s down to this fact why the issue has come about in the UK. Over the last 40 years, the average size of women’s – and, indeed, men’s – feet have increased; indeed, from a four to a six shoe-size for women. Yup, an increase of two full sizes since the 1970s. And perhaps because this a surprising fact that seems to have snuck up on us (and especially because most women don’t have ‘larger’ feet, even though the latter demographic’s feet are getting bigger just like all women’s), that’s why the footwear industry hasn’t really noticed it, let alone done anything much about it.
Of course, individual shoe retailers – such as us at Sherry’s – will endeavour to supply items that cover the range of sizes for all women shoes and, thus, try our best to make sure the options available include one that’ll fit all customers, but the wider shoe industry (not least the manufacturers) simply haven’t done their bit and kept pace with a growing trend for ever growing feet.
An affliction for all ages
And perhaps the most alarming result of the shoe industry’s failure to address this issue is the fact girls of school-age, whose feet are growing at a faster rate than the majority of their peers, simply aren’t finding shoes that’ll fit them. What’s the end-result of this? The fact they’re having to have their parents buy for them boys’ shoes to go to school in each day.
Now, you may ask that in these ever more enlightened days in which we live, when the idea of girls wearing strict girls’ clothes and boys wearing strict boys’ clothes to school seems to be coming under question (and is, occasionally at least, being challenged), is this such a bad thing in the long run? Well, in some ways, perhaps it’s not. And yet experts suggest that from a physical development standpoint it definitely is.
That’s because boys’ shoes simply aren’t designed and made for girls’ feet. So much so that, should a girl wear boys’ shoes for any length of time, it may even alter the physiology of her feet – and wider body. The thinking being that wearing these ‘wrong’ shoes will result in pain and so the girl’ll change her stance and the way she walks to some extent; to do both of which is unnatural and so could cause damage to joints and tendons, affecting ankles, hips, knees and the neck – and all that when the girl’s body is going through a great deal of growth and change.
So, will nothing change?
Well, happily enough, the signs are that ‘larger-footed’ women and girls are likely to be better served by the footwear industry in years to come simply because manufacturers and retailers in the main will catch up with the reality; they’ll see a proportion of their customers are unsatisfied, not being served as well as they might and so it’s inevitably hitting their own sales figures.
Furthermore, technology is changing how we all browse, choose and buy our clothes and footwear; we can even measure our feet via an app now. So, with that sort of digital innovation already out there (and, thus, just what more will follow?), the shoe companies will simply have to cater to women better in future – whatever the size of their feet!