If you’re going to invest in good shoes, you probably want to know if they’re good beforehand. Even if you go to the store and try them on, what will you learn about the shoe after looking in the mirror for 30 seconds and walking a few steps? Probably not much.
You can also ask the sales associate helping you if the shoes you want to buy are comfortable and high-quality, but you’re not guaranteed that they’ve tried them on. Plus, they are there to sell – if they think you are on the fence about buying, they’ll probably try to convince you.
As much as choosing a shoe brand depends on your preferences, some aspects are universal. For example, shoes made in China are usually cheaper than those made in Europe because of mass production. On the other hand, European shoes are of much higher quality because they are made mainly by skilled artisans who use premium materials.
European shoes are usually considered more premium than those made elsewhere. Although Europe produces and exports significantly fewer shoes than China, people still want quality versus quantity or profit.
Brands like Steve Madden, Nine West, Zara, and Aldo are among those who have the worst shoe quality — and the worst reviews.
It’s tough to spend money on shoes if you have to wear them for work. Of course, no one wants to wear a $300 shoe to work, but also, in a year, how many $60 shoes would you have bought?
We know how hard you work for your money, so we are here to help you make the best choice for yourself with a list of the top worst shoe brands. Trust us; those are the ones you definitely won’t want to spend your hard-earned money on.
Shoe Brands You Should Think Twice Before Buying
Nine West shoes are super uncomfortable. Several people have left reviews saying they are unwearable because they hurt people’s feet. One reviewer said, “they hurt every part of your foot.”
Nine West charges hundreds of dollars for their shoes, but their stitching usually comes undone, and the lining starts to peel within a few wears. Plus, customers have reported the brand has terrible customer service and doesn’t accept returns when the shoe is damaged – even though it’s within the period stated in their return policy.
Some customers have had a terrible experience contacting their customer service, reporting it took Nine West more than two months to reach them after several emails and phone calls. Another client said that their customer service never replied to emails, and it was only after contacting the brand on social media that they received “unhelpful and rude advice.”
Several people said Nine West customer service says the issue with the shoes is wear and tear, even though these customers bought their shoes two months after the leather started peeling. Given that Nine West shoes are expensive, you’d expect they would last more than two months before showing signs of wear and tear.
Most people choose to buy TOMS shoes because it is a company that claims to run like a charity. Each TOMS product you buy becomes an in-kind donation to a person in need. They also claim to donate a shoe to children from developing countries. Or it should do so.
But according to a Vox article published in 2015, TOMS is not using the money they raise the best way.
It’s easy to sell trendy shoes using that messaging. It’s easy to justify our desire to buy when we think we’re helping make the world a better place. However, that type of marketing is not the best way to raise money for charities because it focuses on programs that fail to maximize the value of hard-earned dollars.
What’s worse, it perpetuates the vicious stereotype of the world’s poor as helpless people who don’t contribute and are just passively waiting for handouts. Even if the shoes themselves never lead to severe consequences, this worldview can cause actual harm to people.
If you want to help make the world a better place, there may be better ways to do so than buying TOMS.
Most recently, customers have complained that TOMS shoe sizing is narrower than before, customer service doesn’t care about clients and is rude, and doesn’t even try to rectify mistakes. Others say the shoes hurt and are hard to clean.
Keen is an American brand that makes shoes for outdoor activities. Although they claim to find innovative solutions and craft shoes with high-quality materials, customers’ most common complaint is that the soles fall off. One customer noticed his Keen shoes’ soles only had glue on the outside edges and that the inner section barely had any. Unfortunately, he is not the only one complaining about this.
Another customer said that the shoes were comfortable, but the stitching of his waterproof boots came undone after only a few hikes. Several others have the same complaint. The customers also say that the brand has inconsistent sizing and takes too long to post online orders in the mail. If you need a refund, forget it. One customer said the person he spoke to kept stalling him, and Keen never returned his money.
Some Keen boots can be stiff around the ankles and calves, scuff easily, and not completely waterproof. Also, their winter boots don’t have excellent traction when it’s icy outside.
Steve Madden is sold globally, and it’s a brand that is well established in the shoe-making industry. The brand embraces fashion trends while maintaining its funky design, as it did in the ’90s. Its product line includes watches, purses, jewelry, belts, sunglasses, outerwear, and hosiery.
But still, Steve Madden can’t please them all. Many customers say they will never buy a shoe from them again. Their main complaints are inner soles chipping off after a few wears, lousy customer service, poor quality materials, and shipping that takes too long.
On Facebook, Steve Madden has 1.8 out of 5 stars. More than 400 reviews talk about how bad their customer service is, especially when buying online. The experience was terrible. Many can’t track their order, paid for the shoes to be told they were out of stock, or couldn’t return because it took so long to receive the shoes that it was past the 30 days.
Steve Madden’s shoes are not cheap. When not on sale, shoes range anywhere from $34.99 slippers to $250 leather boots. Unfortunately, their shoes are also not suitable for wide feet or calves. Meaning that if you are leaning more towards the plus size, it will be very uncomfortable to walk on stylish Steve Madden shoes.
Steve Madden is the proof that sometimes luxury doesn’t mean high quality.
Aldo is a Canadian shoe brand that manufactures 60% of its shoes in China, even though they say it is a brand “with a conscience.” Aldo is nothing less than a fast-fashion shoe brand that sells cheap shoes at an affordable price. They make shoes that are similar to what luxury brands are designing but in large quantities, leading to bad quality.
Misiu Academy says Aldo shoes are made with scraps of low-quality leather that will crease and stretch after a few wears. There are also sizing inconsistencies with their shoes, with several customers and reviewers saying they had to size up. Their heels are uncomfortable and run on the smaller side. Because of this size inconsistency, some of their sandals, for example, have straps that rub on and hurt your feet until they break in.
One customer said he bought an expensive Aldo sneaker that fell apart on the first wear. He also mentioned that Aldo’s customer service promised him a refund, but he never got it even after 50 email exchanges. Another customer, a high school student who needs to wear formal shoes to school, spent $160 out of his pocket on an Aldo shoe that fell apart after one month.
If you are looking for dressy or work shoes, Aldo is not the place to buy them.
Kenneth Cole is a brand that divides its clientele between those who love it and those who want to see every pair burned and vanish from the earth.
Unlike Aldo, Kenneth Cole is considered a designer brand, not a fast-fashion. However, many people say their shoes are just as bad as those we mentioned here. For example, they advertise their shoes as 100% leather, but many customers say the inside label indicates otherwise. In addition, the boots themselves look like they are made of plastic or vinyl.
Other complaints include heel falling apart from the shoe after a few wears and a pair not lasting even six months.
One customer we interviewed said he bought Kenneth Cole shoes for work but was disappointed when he saw that the leather was creasing and scuffing. Tiago Chiesorin said the pair had fallen apart entirely and that he will never buy another pair of Kenneth Cole shoes.
Oh, Zara. Zara is a hot topic when it comes to fast fashion. We all know they manufacture shoes and clothes that look stylish but are disposable. Many of us have become addicted to shopping for entertainment’s sake because it released new lines that sell out quickly. But in the current fashion industry, Zara is mainly responsible for the massive, wasteful, polluting, exploiting, and unsustainable practices.
And it’s no different with their shoes. We have to say that usually, their boots are pretty good. They are comfortable and last a long time, even when made of synthetic leather. But there are certain shoe styles that Zara gets wrong. What would their designers think if they had to wear what they create?
Vanessa from the YouTube channel The Most Comfortable Heels points out that Zara got wrong with their shoes in this video. One of the most significant issues with Zara shoes that she talks about is how narrow they are and that they only size up in length, not on width.
Even though they are reasonably priced and may last a bit longer than other fast-fashion brands, many customers say they are highly uncomfortable. Lauren Eggertsen, the editor of Who What Wear, said she doesn’t buy Zara’s flat sandals because the straps are cheap and give her blisters. Zara sacrifices comfort and quality using low-cost materials to make shoe prices as affordable as their clothing.
Tips For Buying Good Shoes
With thousands of brands available, it’s challenging to determine which ones are the best and worst. However, you should consider a few things when hunting for good shoes.
- Comfort, first and foremost: Some shoes take a few wears to break in and get comfortable, but others won’t ever feel good on your feet. It’s unbearable to walk on shoes that feel tight or give you blisters.
- Quality materials: Even when shoes are made of synthetic materials, there are high-quality synthetic materials. Likewise, premium leathers are so stiff that you can’t walk on them. With so many manufacturing options nowadays, brands try to keep costs as low as possible to increase profit and don’t care if your shoes will last one month or several years.
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- Customer service: There’s nothing worse than feeling helpless when you have spent money on a product that doesn’t do what it promises. Bad customer service was the leading complaint with all the brands we reviewed here. You must choose a brand that will recognize mistakes and fix them. We are all subject to errors. No one is demanding perfection, but we do like it when brands make an effort to compensate for our loss.
There’s always an exception to the rule. Some people may have had great experiences with the brands we listed above, but overall, some of them try to cut corners with their shoes and you, the customer, pay the price of their indifference. The next time you’re out to buy new shoes, research how they are made, which brands will last you longer, and how you can make the most out of your hard-earned money.