I was minding my own business when it happened. Ok, minding my own business rarely happens, but when it does it seems the introspective focus is bad for my funky footwear.
I mean, look at these Fluevog boots. Weep blue tears with me, people. Now weep harder.
It’s kinda funny (but mostly tragic) how the simple act of walking (Ok, strutting with a slight lady hip sway), listening to music (Ok, 80s punk), and enjoying the signs of spring (Ok, two red-breasted robins flapping happily about) could turn my favourite kicks into a heel with an unhinged sole.
With my strut destrutted and my 80s punk fully punked, I sunk into a deep pit of shoe sadness. My blueys were busted, and the spring in my step was stomped by a rubber sole. Also, I had to limp home on one heel. So much for my lady strut.
You’d be right to think I’m waxing melodramatic over a silly pair of scuffed blue leather boots. I mean, who wears blue boots? Well, I do. After 8 years of stomping across five Canadian provinces, skipping within four European cities, and leaping over countless cattle guards, my beloved blueys were broken.
After sulking home with a heel in one hand and my heart in the other, I wondered:
Question: Is it worth the money to repair the boots? Or would replacing my footwear with something new make better financial sense?
Like others before me bearing a long commute while hobbling home wearing one shoe, I broke my stride, stared at my smartphone, and asked the fine Squawkfox Facebook people what to do. The fine people responded.
Here’s the debate on when to repair and when to replace damaged clothing. I’ll leave the melodrama up to you.
Observe the 50% Rule
There’s a general rule of thumb for replacing stuff, and the rule works whether you’re wearing the broken stuff on your fingers or toes.
The 50% Replacement Rule: Replace the broken item when the repair costs more than half the price of a new item.
Eight years ago I paid around $250 for my crazy blue Fluevog boots. Not a bad use of $250 bucks considering I’ve worn them daily, regardless of what the Canadian climate throws at my feet.
But what’s the repair cost? A quick visit to my local Fluevog Store in Toronto confirms that two replacement heels plus labour would cost $50 to replenish my old soles.
Bottom Line: A fifty dollar two-boot revival costs around 20% of the cost of a new pair of $250 shoes. The math is working in my favour especially since a new pair today runs around $350, so I’m leaning towards a frugal Fluevog repair.
Is the item busted or worn out?
Nothing lasts forever, including the last on your fav footwear. Also, sinking money into a old pair of kicks doesn’t make them new again. The fine people on the Squawkfox Facebook page had a lot to say about repairing and about letting go.
Despite years of wear, a full resoling isn’t necessary to replenish my old boots. A new heel cap popped onto each boot should revive the sole without changing the feel of the footbed. The leather is in great condition and a little spit and shine will polish up the patina to a pretty glow. My feet should stay happy in a shoe that works like new but feels familiar.
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Bottom Line: Before paying for a repair, determine if the item is busted or just plain worn out. If the fabric is thin or the shoe leather is scuffed to pieces, it’s probably not worth repairing even if the cost satisfies the 50% replacement rule.
Uniqueness, greenness, specialness.
The mathematics of mending is an objective means to a multi-threaded problem. Sometimes emotion plays into a fix far more than the logic behind the repair, and that’s Ok. Some items in need of costly love are heirlooms, others are so special and unique that finding a suitable replacement is impossible. In these instances I’d consider spending the money on a repair.
Lastly, everyone who has read this blog for longer than three minutes knows I have a strong bias towards sustainable living. We live in a throw-away culture where our rampant consumerism prefers the costly hit of spending voraciously on cheap disposable items rather than investing in things that stand the test of time.
The environmental impact of all this fast fashion is likely devastating to this big shared spinning orb we like to call Earth. So if the shoe still fits, the repair is reasonable, and the item is loved, then maybe do your bank account a solid by getting the darn item fixed.
Question: What items have you repaired? What stuff should be replaced? I’d love to hear from both the menders and those who know when it’s time to spend. Go!