We asked Emma Vanstone about her experience with Start-rite and buying shoes for her children. Here’s what she had to say…
How much do you know about Start rite?
Not a huge amount really, I have to confess. I’ve bought Start-rite maybe four or five times but it’s not a brand I generally buy for my children. That’s not because of the brand though, it’s just because it’s not as handy for me.
Start-rite is passionate about educating parents to the advantages of fitted footwear. What does the term fitted footwear mean to you?
I would guess that it means shoes which you check fit your children’s feet. I would think that it is the difference between going into a children’s shoe shop to buy rather than for example going to a supermarket, picking a size and trying it on my children’s feet.
In your experience, how do you find the level of complexity involved in fitted footwear, the experience of buying school shoes and the measurements involved?
I think it’s always been a case of having one child with wide feet and one child with very narrow feet, so I do tend to always get them shoes that are measured for their feet rather than going to a standard shoe shop to buy them. We’ve never had any problems where there aren’t any suitable shoes available.
So you say that people that have helped you with the measurement process have been good and you’ve not been confused at all by that process?
No, not confused, we did have one occasion when I bought some trainers for my youngest daughter, we were walking around the shopping centre afterwards and she was saying that her legs hurt and we worked out that the shoes were so tight around the top of her ankle that they’d cut the blood supply off to her feet! But we took them back and they swapped them straight away. That’s the only bad shoe experience I’ve had.
“We had Start-rite Shoes when the children were smaller. They were really good and lasted a really long time.”
What attributes would you look at specifically when considering value?
I guess I just want it to be comfortable for them really. With my son’s shoes I would look for quite soft, flexible leather because he runs around quite a lot. Hard wearing as well, we’ve been quite lucky in the last two years and one pair of shoes has lasted him all year, so I don’t really mind spending more if they last that long.
Girl’s shoes I find quite hard because generally they are quite ‘girly’ whereas boy’s shoes are more like a trainer. The first pair of shoes my middle daughter had were matte black and they aged really badly. She scuffed the top of them and they looked awful after one term. The next time we brought patent leather and they aged better. I always feel bad that she has to wear really girly shoes when my boy is going to school in basically trainers. I wish there was more choice with girls shoes.
So patent leather has been better in your experience?
In your experience, how long has a good pair of school shoes lasted?
I would say 12 months, the whole school year. I don’t think I would expect a school shoe to last much longer than that. I think they were fairly wrecked by the end of the year!
So is it the children’s feet growing that is the main factor in having to buy a new shoe?
No, it was more how the shoe looked at that point. Sometimes you feel like they should start the New Year in a new pair of shoes.
How important is the style of the shoe when making your purchase?
My son doesn’t really care I don’t think! Last year he was interested in the ones that had the toy inside and when the children were younger they were after the lights. In terms of girl shoes I can’t think what she looks for, lights probably!
Would you say your children like some kind of theme to their shoes?
Yes, last year they both wanted some kind of toy in their shoes, they were six and five then. Now they’re a year older, maybe seven is too old for a toy, I’m not sure what he would look for now. When we’re in the shop it is that which drew them to the shoes to begin with but they never looked at the toy after buying them. It’s that impulse ‘I want something now’ kind of thing, which hasn’t really held their interest for very long.
When you’ve previously owned Start-rite shoes, what has your general opinion been of them and what have you found has been different to other brands?
They have been fine every time we’ve had them. We had Start-rite Shoes when the children were smaller when they tend to grow out of their shoes really quickly. They were really good and lasted a really long time. I was really happy with them and never had any issues. I tend to get through lots of shoes with three children!