Clown Feet

It’s been a while since I’ve had to wear shoes. Working from home for the past two years and rarely going into the office meant that my shower slippers were what I wore 99% of the time.

A few weeks ago, I put my shoes on because I had to visit the office. All seemed fine until midday when the soles of my shoes started falling apart. I had to hobble back to my car with half the class of the Mentos lady.

I figured, old shoes, untouched for a long time, they’re expected to deteriorate.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, I put on the nice dress shoes I hadn’t worn in years. The soles literally crumbled as I stepped out of my house onto the welcome mat. What the fuck was going on?

I looked it up. Basically, shoes are designed to crumble so they don’t clog up landfills when they have been disposed of. It’s called Hydrolysis. The materials in your shoes are broken down by water and this process is accelerated when they are kept in places where moisture can’t escape (like in a regular shoe cupboard). The solution to this is simple though it sounds counterproductive: wear your shoes frequently so they can dry out.

With two pairs destroyed in this manner (and one more falling apart, though I think it can be saved with shoe glue, will be bringing that to the cobbler), I decided to shop for new shoes.

My requirements were simple: footwear suitable for formal and casual occasions (so I can wear them more frequently), brown in color, and within my budget of RM500. I didn’t want to spend over a thousand bucks on something that is meant to be replaced.

Which led me to the most unfruitful shopping trip of my life. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find shoes that matched what I wanted – far from it, I’m not that picky. There were many pairs I could see myself wearing if only they came in the correct size.

I walked into almost every shoe shop in Mid Valley and Gardens (Aldo, Clarks, Isetan, Aeon, Metrojaya, Tomaz, Bata, Pedro) – none of them stocked shoes that fit my feet. Geox and Ecco were out of my budget but looking at online stores, it doesn’t seem like they have larger sizes either.

For context – I wear a range of sizes, from UK 11 to 13. Even though size 11 shoes are the correct length, they usually aren’t wide enough to be comfortable for me. I have to buy larger sizes to accommodate my extra-wide feet. This width isn’t standard across all brands and types, hence the variation in my shoe sizes.

Initially, I thought it was a budget thing – maybe cheaper brands don’t have so many sizes, nope. After talking to everyone at the different stores, they don’t stock shoes for people my size. Even Zeve Shoes, a store which a few friends recommended, told me they don’t stock larger sizes anymore – nobody bought them. They recommended I get custom-made shoes instead. How crazy is that?

For feet lovers

I thought, maybe it was an offline store issue. They have limited inventory space, so they can’t keep every single size in stock. Would you believe me if I said Zalora has the same issue?

I filtered men’s shoes > formal > brown > size 12 UK. I got a whole bunch of shoes, but almost every shoe I clicked on was out of stock for UK 12. The only brand that had shoes that size was called Kings Collection (3 out of 27 listings) and I had never heard of them before.

After some deliberation, I decided, fuck it, pulled the trigger, and purchased a pair. I never buy shoes online because of my need to try them out (also, I find the process of returning goods such a hassle) but seeing how I don’t have many options, I might as well go through it once. Let’s hope they fit properly first try.

If I can’t walk into one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls to pick up a pair of shoes that fit, something’s very wrong with this country – or me. Am I the only person with clown feet in Malaysia? How do other people deal with this?

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