We will divide the footwear industry into tiers.
Tier 1: Low quality shoes mass produced in sweatshops
We started with these shoes because they represent more than 90% of the market. Here you will find the largest and most common brands, lots of sales and promo codes, most of designer shoes will also be found here. The name of the game is volume. You can consider this kind of shoes as disposable. Some of the infamous characteristics of these shoes are these ones:
-Corrected grain leather
-Up to a 500% overprice
In few words, these are extremely cheap shoes, because of the volume, materials and craftsmanship involved. Trust me, the actual cost (materials + construction + shipping from the sweatshop where they were made) of one of these shoes can be as low as 12 bucks. Ready to be sold in your favorite outlet or website for something around $100, although I have seen terrible designer shoes being sold for more than $200. They are ripping you out of your hard earn cash in exchange for a name, for a little of convenience, for the illusion of a deal (oh the regular price was $189.90 but they are on sale for $120), for comfort that will last 2 months until the cheap padding that makes you think they are so comfortable wears off.
Tier 2: High quality footwear
Here we can find beautiful shoes, usually made in Europe, Japan and USA. The range of prices, leathers and attention to details varies widely. You can order a pair of bespoke English shoes made with an exotic leather for $3,000 or you can find a pair of Spanish good quality shoes for $300.
If paired with a crappy shoe you’ll notice lots of differences, the weight, the smell, touch and looks of the leather, attention to details and these shoes will usually be goodyear or blake welted.
The only downside of these shoes is the price and sometimes their availability. Made by companies with years and years of heritage, skillful labor and the best materials involves a high cost. And they are definitely gonna charge you for it. And if you are in the USA it’s always a gamble if they are gonna fit you correctly. If they don’t, good luck on the return process, you are in for a hefty amount on shipping and tax costs.
Nonetheless these are the best shoes of the world, if you want to know which brands we personally consider to offer the best shoes just send us an email and we’ll give you our opinion and more info on where to find them and what you should expect to pay for them.
Tier 3: The “direct to consumer” brands
Here’s a quick story you may already know. There’s an eyewear company which completely dominates the market, they make like 98% of all the glasses of the world and hence they can set up prices, brands, fads, distribution channels and so on. Some years ago, some very visionary and brave dudes thought enough is enough. And they created a company where they would offer cool and quality eyewear for something around $100. Why pay $350 for pair of sunglasses when you can pay $100 for something similar. After that, some companies did the same for shirts, suits, shoes. And so it was, that the “direct to consumer” businesses were born.
Now, I don’t know anything about eyewear. But I do about shoes.
Unfortunately for footwear it’s gonna be a hit or miss purchase and I’ll explain why for most of the brands, the direct to consumer is just mumbo jumbo. Part of the success of the direct to consumer model is that it makes retailers and distributors aka “the middlemen” look as some evil, soulless and greedy creatures responsible of why things are so expensive. So when you take them out of the equation, magically things get way cheaper.
Well not so fast. I mean yes, the more middlemen you put into a business, the more pockets you will have to fill. But, and this is a big but. Selling has a cost, sometimes a very high cost. Especially when you are starting a business and nobody knows you. That’s where a middleman can help to put your brand on the map and get you some sales that although are not going to give you a huge margin, may give you enough to survive and keep things running until you grow enough.
I have seen lots of brands claiming things as. Stop paying $500 for a pair of shoes, with us you can have the same pair of shoes for $150-$300. Yes, since we are skipping the middlemen we are able to offer these $500 shoes for just $200. Yeah right. You know what’s actually very funny of this situation. That none of these guys own a factory, they are actually middlemen. And many of those $500 shoe brands are family businesses who actually sell direct to consumer. Anyway, just saying.
If it’s too good to be true…
There are certain corners you can’t cut while making shoes if you want them to be good quality shoes. Craftsmanship and materials. Most of the direct to consumer brands will just focus on craftsmanship. They will got to workshops on Europe and tell them. Hey guys I need to sell your shoes in $200. Make it happen. How do they make it happen? Well, instead of using the leather, soles, midsoles of a pair of $500 shoes, they use inferior materials. I mean who the hell is gonna notice it. The idea is to sell words as “made in Italy”, “goodyear welted”, “resolable”, “no middlemen”.
So, are we different?
It could be said we belong to Tier 3, but I like to think we use to, but not anymore, that now we are a special brand offering a unique value proposal to the consumer. We started almost 3 years ago as the first brand to offer affordable goodyear welted shoes, and we failed. The leather was not so great, the finishing was kind of ugly, shoes wouldn’t be true to size, among many other setbacks.
Paying our dues
After such a complicated start, we went back to work even more, tightening our quality controls, speaking and working with lots of tanneries, testing leathers, soles, lasts and styles. Speaking with shoemaker masters, buying many of the best shoes of the world and making reverse engineering on them. Almost a year after we launched John Doe Shoes, we were ready with the second breed of our shoes. They were better, like a lot better.
Our shoes are made in Mexico, in a top notch workshop which works on an artisan way. The capacity of the workshop is 600 pairs a week. Nothing compared to the thousands of shoes that factories can make each day. They are made in Mexico because that allows us to use top quality materials (more on that later) and offer you a great price. Labor in Mexico is way cheaper than labor in Europe so we save a ton of costs. And before you think there’s some kind of labor exploitation. I want to tell you 2 things. First of all, labor is cheaper because that’s the way Economy works. A subway ticket in Mexico costs 30 cents, a coke 50 cents, the rent of a house $200, a meal $2. What would you be able to pay with that money in Europe? Secondly, the workshop we work with was about to close. They were suffering a constant decrease in their sales because of cheap shoes from China flooding the market. It is what it is. Just because our manufacturing costs are cheaper, doesn’t mean it’s not a high quality one. These are people who have been making shoes for decades, they are grateful because thanks to John Doe Shoes they were able to save their jobs and that gratefulness is reflected on the dedication, passion and utmost care they pour into each pair of shoes.
Thanks to the lower manufacturing costs we are able to use the best materials, Dainite soles, Box Calfskin, Horween leathers you name it. All our leathers come from European and mostly USA hides. There are 2 reasons for that, first the quality, if you want the best leathers you have to look in Europe and USA. Secondly, we know to be grateful, currently 80% of our sales come from USA customers, buying as many American materials as we can is our way of saying thank you for letting this business to live and grow. Every day we have more customers from Canada and Australia so we might look for some materials or leathers from those countries in the near future.
We won’t try to fool you into thinking you are getting $600 shoes for $160.
What you get with John Doe Shoes is superior customer service, availability and convenience and an outstanding pair of shoes that will be with you for a long time and we’re sure they won’t be your last John Doe Shoes.