Saturday, December 23, 2006

the square toe shoe debate

Long arguments and occasional clashing happens more than often between buyers and designers nowadays. Recently, my friend and I started a debate about American fashion and how there has been some improvements in menswear at the mass stores but also how there is so much that needs to be done in the long run. I, a Merchandising major, was stating that menswear design is very hard to change because people have different taste in the U.S. and also culture plays a big role in this game. If stores did not carry what men wanted, for example solid sweaters and square toe shoes, then how would stores make any profits? We need to face the fact that most of America does not have the same vision of what fashion is at the current moment as to a girl/guy living and working in the industry. Do you really think that men will start buying pointy shoes and yellow sweaters? Didn't think so.

He, a fashion design major, argues that it's the buyers fault for stocking stores with non-exciting, poor selected and utterly boring clothes and accessories. Although, I completely understand his perspective as a designer, I think he misses or forgets the concept of profit. We no longer live in a society where choice is limited and people shop at certain places. If you don't have that square toe shoe or the mocha cable knit sweater, I will go somewhere else. Therefore, with this you lose those important factors: money and customers.

Now, how can this be changed? As already stated, some slight changes are being seen. Biggest of them, is that many stores have slim fit options. Second, there are less carpenter/loose fit jeans to be seen, which is probably a result of the slim/straight silhouette that has been present for some time. I don't see big changes anytime soon at the mass level, but it would be very interesting to see what happens next.

So, my dear readers, what is your stand on this debate? Agree, disagree, why, why not...tell me!


ambika said...

My boyfriend and I have argued about square toed shoes. My stance is that they're the marker of fraternity-esque men who never quite grew up from that pack mentality of the frat--baseball hats at the weekend, and clothes that all their friends wear.

His argument is that a square toe shoe is classic. Recently however, and I expect on this latest trip to Italy, he's being converted to--though not a pointy toe--something a little softer. We'll see.

John Santos said...

Hello. First time reader here, and I bumped into your blog because surprisingly, I was looking at different perspectives on the squared-toe shoe.

To your friend: first, customers do not stock stores, buyers buy the stocks stocked in a store. If he is so insistent, he should try updating the classic masculine "look" that would appeal to the male bias towards utility and comfort (something I do not agree with but regardless, an admittedly male bias). As a fashion design major, he should be the first to know that fashion design is a balance between the designer's perspective and the customer's demands, and thus the blame for poor quality is equally on the designer as it is on the consumer.

To ambika: although I myself am biased towards pointy wingtip shoes, I think it is harsh and a tad condescending to say that the squared-toe is a marker of fraternity-esque men, or that this is inherently a bad thing. Really, the only way pointier shoes can catch on is if everybody adopts the same fraternity-esque mentality and wear the damn thing. Pointy shoes aren't "grown-up," simply that they are just yet another option among others. A better option, yes, but an option as grounded in vanity and materialism as the act of choosing blocky-ended shoes.

Back to the shoe argument: I still prefer my pointy wingtips, but after finding a not-so-bad squared-toe pair (the corners of which are a lot more subtle and does not look as chopped off as the Dockers shoes pictured above), I'm finding them to be not so bad after all.