We get it. You love your new radical shoes and you want to wear them every waking hour of every day!
While we absolutely design our shoes with everyday versatility and regular use in mind, they are not indestructible. Like most things that sustain prolonged use, a shoe’s materials will eventually begin to wear out with use over time.
Giving your shoes a rest between wears is just one step to giving them the longest life possible. Here’s 5 other important reasons why;
1. Leather Uppers especially need time to air out
As you wear your shoes, leather (being a porous fibre) naturally soaks up the perspiration your feet give off. Whilst we agree this is kind of icky, it’s also totally normal — and a really good reason to give the shoe ample time to dry. We define ample time as around 24 hours – so ideally give it a day between wears.
If you don’t give your shoes a day to air out, the sweat-soaked leather will warp, and your shoes can start to lose their shape — not to mention get musty and start to smell. Damper leather is also more prone to damage like scratches and is one of the reasons real shoe obsessives keep shoe trees in the shoes to help them stay in shape as they air out. You can also just keep the stuffing in the shoes they came with for a similar effect.
In a 2011- 2012 survey, the ABS determined that the average Australian adult walks 7400 steps a day. Even if you are doing slightly less than the average, 5000 steps a day translates into walking anywhere up to 4kms a day just through our incidental movements like commuting, going to work and chasing errands (and kids!).
Like the tyres on your car, your outsoles are absorbing all these kilometres as well as the full weight of your heel strike, which for most of us is between 60 – 90 kilos of force. Without a regular break in between, fast breakdown of the outsole is inevitable. Like tyres, shoes need to be rotated to reduce the impact of repeated abrasion points. It’s also worth remembering that the cushioning support in most outsoles, especially trainer styles, can only last between 500 – 800 kilometres before you need an upgrade.
3. Your gait will thank you and so will your Osteopath
Looking at the soles of your shoes and the way they are wearing is akin to a tarot reader reading your birth chart. Your gait (the way you walk) says so much about where you are at in the world. Dragging your heels? Pounding the pavement at the midsole? Or maybe you’re just ‘light on your feet’?
All these expressions came from the reality that the way walk through the world reflects something of our state of mind and true nature. Your Osteo would agree and advise that things like uneven wear (one side more worn than the other), or chronic ball of foot wear could be an indicator of other issues in your body’s biomechanics. Pelvic misalignments, knee pain and lower back pain can all be detected through the heel strike and soles of the feet.
Rotating your shoes can help with this as a variation in shoe shapes will ‘train’ different muscles, tendons and ligaments of your feet and ankles to remain active and not fall into habitual patterns of wear. And of course flat shoes are the only sound choice for your overall physical health in keeping the kinetic chain (from your foot to your knee to your hips and up) stable.
Thinking about the maths above – knowing that most people walk an average of up to 4kms a day, and knowing that most outsoles provide recommended shock support for between 500 – 800 kilometres depending on your weight and gait, you can expect a ‘safe’ 200 wears from your shoes. If you break this wear into every second day, and maintain proper shoe care habits, it is reasonable to expect at least a 2 year cupboard life to your shoes.
As Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia explains "as individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time—thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it."
5. Variety is the key to life – challenging your habitual patterns of thinking
Set yourself an outfit challenge and try wearing different things every day. At Radical Yes we are pretty obsessed with conjuring great outfits and love the idea of using garments to express your individuality and mood. Start from the shoes up and be adventurous – mix trainers with a dress, wear sharp Penny Loafers with denims or even put socks on with your sandals. The idea is to use your creativity to drive your daily choices rather than habitual thinking.