Archive for December, 2008

Learning new things every day – diabetic shoes

One of the things that I love about this blog is that I learn something new virtually every time I write something. I’ve learnt about vegan shoes (which I really love), shoe art (which is weird and cool at the same time), shoes that help you lose weight, shoes that feel like you’re walking barefoot and now, shoes for diabetics. I had absolutely no idea that diabetics were prone to such nasty feet-related problems and that special shoes and socks are recommended to ensure that these problems are avoided and that feet aren’t amputated. All of which sounds very dire.

So, what are diabetic shoes and what do they do, exactly?

According to, diabetic shoes are designed to “enhance foot function and comfort for diabetic patients”, which is a bit vague, so we look to for a little more detail. Feet are greatly affected by diabetes, as diabetes damages nerves, causes poor circulation stiffens joints and increases the risk of infection. All of which is bad for diabetic feet because feet can be damaged but owing to nerve damage diabetics won’t know it, foot ulcers can result from bad circulation, which can cause infections that spread and could ultimately lead to amputation if not treated soon enough. Apparently diabetes is the main cause of all amputations.

Wikipedia, that venerable source of information, says that diabetic shoes are specially designed, often with inserts, which are supposed to reduce the chances of skin breaking down. They are also supposed to prevent a number of foot-related complications – strain, ulcers, calluses and amputations (a complication to be sure). Shoes are prescribed by doctors and fitted by certified pedorthist – a specialist in using footwear.

There are two types: custom moulded and depth shoes. Both are made from leather and have a form of shoe enclosure, and then they differ. Custom moulded shoes are based on a model of the wearer’s foot and have removable inserts, while depth shoes have a full length heel-to-toe liner and come in full and half sizes.

Diabetic shoes, which can look a little like “special shoes” but can also look quite fashionable, come in a number of styles, including, slippers, work shoes, walking shoes, dress shoes and boots and sandals. And then there are diabetic socks, which are “super soft, seamless and ultra-thin”. They are supportive, comfortable and provide much needed protection for diabetic feet. They reduce irritation and pressure, provide cushioning and wick away moisture to keep feet dry.

I love stuff like this. It’s so informative, and there’s nothing like finding out about the horrible things that other people have to live with to put your own nonsense in perspective. And coming from South Africa, where diabetic shoes and socks are not common knowledge, despite a large diabetic population, it’s also interesting to see exactly what is available in other countries in order to ease suffering.


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Shoe repair isn’t a load of cobblers in a recession

Right, so, we have a recession in full swing (which the US admits has actually been in full swing for a year now), Christmas spending is down, retailers are panicking and even the motor industry, which is one of the most powerful in the world, is in line for a bailout. Is there any good news? Yes there is, for some industries at any rate. Cobblers and shoe repair shops are thriving in the economic downturn, as people look to conserve what they already have.

Dan Forster, of the Cobbler Shop in Highland, Northwest Indiana says that if the economy keeps getting worse, his business will pick up even more than it has done recently. Although Forster has seen a rise in the repair of all types of shoes, he says that the biggest increase has been in work boots, which he attributes to spiralling costs.

Gino Mina, who owns Hakky Shoe Repair in Indianapolis, views shoe repair as a somewhat altruistic calling, as he says that shoe repair not only helps save people money, but it also contributes towards saving the environment (shoes are recycled) and boosts small local businesses.

And while Forster says that cobblers have always done well in economic downturns, Thomas Buck, owner of Buck’s Shoes in Valparaiso, attributes the sudden growth in business to the fact that cobbling shoes is a dying craft. Buck believes that many cobblers are of an older generation and have reached retirement age, and they’re not being replaced when they do exit the business, which results in less competition and more business for those that remain.

Ryan Embry, a third generation cobbler who manages the family business, Trio Shoe Service in Buckhead, Atlanta has noticed an increase in the number of designer shoes being brought in for repairs. The Trio Shoe Service has built a successful business repairing Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks for Atlanta’s wealthy, but Embry has noticed an increase in designer repairs since the onset of the recession. He attributes this to the fact that even the wealthy are having second thoughts about spending money on surplus items when they can save by repairing what they own. It seems that it’s time $2000 shoes earned their keep.

The Shoe Service Institute of America (and why wouldn’t there be one?) has published a bunch of interesting stats on shoe repairs. For instance, did you know that shoe repair has risen by 20% in the US and is now at 45% or that New York and Chicago, which are traditionally walking intensive cities, have the most shoe repairs? The average number of shoe repairs a shop does per week is about 200 pairs. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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TOMS Shoes: do a little good this holiday season

Tis the festive season, the time when we all become gift obsessed (the buying and the receiving), prone to spoiling those we love, and hoping, even though we know it’s goes against the spirit of things, that we will be spoilt in return. For many, regardless of religion, it’s also a time to count blessings and fight the internal Grinch by donating to all the good causes that we meant to donate to during the course of the year but somehow never got round to. Certain members of my family, who are more selfless than I am, donate to charities instead of buying gifts (I like presents and I like giving presents, and I try to support my favourite causes throughout the year anyway).

Anyway, I shall now try to get to the point, which is that TOMS Shoes is giving you the chance to spoil yourself or a loved one with a fantastic new pair of shoes, while doing your bit for the children of Ethiopia. TOMS Shoes, a footwear company with a social conscience, has a holiday campaign going that aims to donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to Ethiopian children suffering from illnesses that are completely preventable by simply wearing shoes. To do this, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.

The campaign will run for 30 days, from the 20th November to the 20th December 2008. According to, TOMS has created a video for their website that looks into the plight of children in Ethiopia. The site also has a pretty cool meter to show customer how many shoes have been donated, so far the number is around the 15,000 mark, and with roughly two weeks still to go, it seems more than likely that the targeted 30,000 pairs will be reached.

TOMS Shoes has womens’, men’s and children’s ranges and I have to say that I was very impressed to see that they even cater to the Vegan women and men among us, although, sadly, not children. In the women’s range, the vegan wrap boots are particularly funky. I wouldn’t pair of those in my stockings this xmas. The boots are a rather dear $98, but other shoes start at a much more reasonable $42 (for men and women). So why not spoil yourself a little the holiday season, and improve a child’s life at the same time.

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