I just want a good pair of shoes. I’ve grown sick and tired of walking to meet new clients as my expensive dress shoes strangled my feet. Having spent considerable amounts of money on footwear, I often think to myself, “Shouldn’t they at least feel good? Isn’t it said that you get what you pay for?” I’ve filled my wardrobe with plenty of comfortably fitting, custom made slacks, shirts, and suit jackets; they have served me well in my career, but can it really be so difficult to find a pair of classy, good looking, and comfortable dress shoes? Forget about dress shoes, where can I even find a comfortable pair of trainers? Day after day; month after month; year after year; I compromised my own well-being to maintain a professional image just to look good in the eyes of others. As a sales representative, being the bridge between the customer and our business, I deeply understand the importance of appearance and how we present ourselves, but wouldn’t we look even better if at least our feet were comfortable in the shoes that we walk? As much as I would love to, I simply can’t show up wearing shorts and sandals—unless we sell flip-flops, which unfortunately isn’t the case.
II. Planting The Seed
On one chilly morning as I jogged through Greenwich park, I encountered a cohort of young men, all running barefooted without a worry in their stride. Truthfully, at first glance I thought it looked quite silly; but to say the least, it intrigued me. A thought crossed my mind: “Just like all other creatures of this world, we did not come out of our mother’s womb with shoes on and laces tied—they seem to be doing just fine, but what happened to us?”
In the following weeks, I thought little about the young barefooted lads I encountered at Greenwich. I continued to lace up my thick-soled trainers each time I went for a run, telling myself that I must be strong, and that I can push through the pain, even though my feet, knees and hips were telling me an entirely different story. I continued to wear my foot-strangling and expensive dress shoes as I walked from office to office, speaking to new potential clients with a big smile on my face despite the fact that my entire body from waist down was crying for any form of relief. Frequently, I found myself taking breaks; locating a balcony or private area just to take off my shoes and sit for a while. Between me and my wife, I called them “maintenance breaks”. These unavoidable “maintenance breaks” seriously affected my efficiency at work. “There must be a solution.” I thought. There must be a way for me to look professional, to represent our business, to work without “maintenance breaks”, and to be painless altogether.
More often than not, my painful feet, knees and hips caused by unnaturally shaped shoes prevented me from engaging in the activities that I love. As someone who has always loved to exercise, being an active track runner and a footballer since middle school, keeping my feet in good shape has been important to me. Try to picture being a runner and footballer, but having an ingrown toenail visit you every month, or an injured hip caused by excess pressure on the joint—a truly depressing scenario. I was never fond of sitting at home, watching movies or television. As a young lad, I just wanted to go out and play with my friends, run around and kick a ball for heaven’s sake. Even today, about a month ago I tried to play a game of football with my nephews, I simply wasn’t able to. The pain dug too deep into the outer edge of my big toe, and my joints hips were killing me. The only thing that seemed to make me feel better was to take off my shoes and walk around on the grass. This subtle realization—that taking my shoes off relieved the pain—along with the encounter of the young lads in Greenwich park planted a seed in my mind that maybe there was something fundamentally wrong with the design of shoes that most people in today’s world have accepted.
Another nuisance that may sound familiar to the reader has to do with proportion. My right foot, for whatever reason, is noticeably larger than my left. Whenever buying a fresh pair of shoes, my left foot would fit just fine, but my right foot would always be uncomfortable. Because of the non-personalized manner in which large factories manufacture shoes, my right foot would always have to go thorough weeks of pain before the shoe was broken in and I could somewhat comfortably walk in them. Weeks of excessive pressure on my right foot affected my stride, my posture; not to mention the ingrown toenails that have been so kind to visit frequently. At one point, my feet had become completely numb. I almost convinced myself that it’s a normal occurrence, and I should just deal with it. But inevitably, I would have to realize that large manufacturers design the shoes not for the human foot, but for an arbitrary fashion ideal.
I write here today because I believe it is fundamentally wrong for a person to have to go through so much pain just because of the social norms, manifested in shoe designs that have compromised human potential for many decades. Though the problems that I write about in this blog post may not be of life and death, they are real to many individuals. The whole reason I chose to write this blog is not to complain, but to tell my story, and to propose that there is a solution to the pain—At least one that worked for me. If you resonate with my story, and want to hear more about my journey with minimalist shoes and bespoke footwear, make sure to come visit every once and again to check for an update. I will write as much as I can!