We asked Emma Button about her experience with Start-rite and buying shoes for her children. Here’s what she had to say…
What do you know about Start-rite as a brand?
My main experience has been at John Lewis in Reading. I associate Start-rite with John Lewis because that’s the only place I really see the brand. Other than that it’s really memories from my own childhood. When I became a parent Start-rite was the only brand I knew about in terms of school shoes.
Have you bought Start-rite shoes for your children at all?
Yes, Lara my eldest definitely had shoes from Start-rite but I don’t think my youngest has at all.
When buying online Start-rite provide not only information on how to measure but materials to instruct you in the process of checking fit after you have received the shoes as well.
That’s the key thing for me. I tried the measuring tool in the past and it was a total disaster and it was mostly a disaster because when I ordered the shoes online I didn’t know how to test to see if they fit correctly. I can think of a number of occasions where I’ve felt the girls shoes fitted exactly right and when I’ve taken them into a store I’ve been told off for having the wrong size shoe.
What does the term ‘fitted footwear’ mean to you?
I don’t think it’s something that I’m familiar with, but I would assume it means the option for different sizes in terms of width as well as length.
You mentioned that you have bought online before and that that experience was below your expectations and left you unsure?
The difficult thing about buying online is that you have to be really confident of the size before buying and not just the size of your child’s feet, but the size of the shoe that you can expect that particular brand to be. This really puts you off trying other brands. I’ve tried a number of different places, usually not specialist shoe shops though. And I’ve ordered shoes only for them to arrive and be nothing like the actual size of my daughter’s feet.
When considering purchasing school shoes how influential is cost in your decision making process?
I would say it’s not a big factor. I wouldn’t say that I shop on a budget at all and when it comes to the girls shoes I would rather spend money to ensure what they get is exactly right.
Are there any particular attributes of the shoe that you look at when evaluating the value?
The only one that really comes to mind is maintenance. I will actively be put off a shoe that I’m likely to spend a long time maintaining. For instance, last time Lara chose a pair of patent shoes and we had to buy something extra to keep the patent looking nice.
In your previous experience how long has a good pair of school shoes lasted?
We had a pair of winter boots that last a full 12 months and were still usable at the beginning of the next season and that was with more or less no maintenance. I didn’t have to clean them actively, they maintained their shape really well. And because of the style any scuffing which did happen at school just looked natural. A good pair of shoes I would expect to be usable for a year provided the children’s feet haven’t grown.
“I wouldn’t say that I shop on a budget. When it comes to shoes I would rather spend money to ensure what they get is exactly right.”
Are there any features in particular you look at when evaluating the durability of a shoe?
We are still actively using Velcro type fastenings and I like to see that stand up to not only me opening and closing it several times a day, but the girls as well who are quite active during the day! I don’t want to see if fraying or it coming away at the strap. In terms of shoe laces, Lara only has a couple of pairs with laces and both times I’ve had to replace them. Really it comes down to being able to withstand every day wear and it’s the little details like the laces and the strap which are more of an issue than scratching or discolouration.
How important is the style of the shoe in your purchase decision?
It’s becoming more important as Lara is five now and is beginning to make her own decisions. She’s beginning to want to look like her friends at school. I don’t think I would totally let that make my decision yet. Practicality in terms of a style that doesn’t get in the way and is easy for her to put on and off at school still plays the biggest factor in our decision making process.
Have you had any particularly bad experience with school shoes in the past?
I had a bad experience with suede effect shoes where they just went soggy really quickly. Other than that I would say I’ve been fairly happy with quite a traditional, no nonsense leather shoe.