Shoes are a clothing necessity and some people even treat purchasing them as a hobby.
Shoes play an important role in protecting your feet and keeping them warm.
They can also say a lot about your style and financial status.
It isn’t uncommon for people to drop a lot of money on a new pair of shoes.
However, you might find that even basic shoes are more expensive these days.
Why Are Shoes So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price for a pair of shoes is around $20, but sneakers and other styles can be as expensive as several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Shoes are expensive because of their quality, their production costs, and whether they’re considered collectible or not.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Prestige Factor
One of the main reasons shoes trend on the expensive side is that they’re often used to show off financial status.
There are cheap shoes and there are expensive shoes.
Cheap shoes tend to use cheap materials.
They scuff up and fall apart easily.
They also tend to look rather boring and mundane.
More expensive shoes, on the other hand, tend to look a lot better.
They’re usually made with high-quality materials and are more durable.
They also tend to have some sort of eye-catching style.
Companies don’t always make large quantities of these shoes.
As such, if someone wants a pair, then they need to pay the expensive price or miss out on the opportunity.
Those who do wear the shoes add to their prestige.
It shows others that they can afford to buy an expensive pair of shoes.
It essentially tells the public that you have some money to spare.
If all shoes were cheap, then there wouldn’t be a lot of interest in them.
They wouldn’t provide a means of showing off one’s wealth.
Shoes are expensive because they can be used to exhibit a person’s status and prestige.
2. Handmade Shoes
Cheaper shoes are typically factory-made.
The majority of the shoe parts are made in a factory before going to a person for assembly.
It helps make the process cheaper because simple tasks are done by a machine.
It allows a company to cut down on labor costs.
More expensive shoes, conversely, are often made by hand.
Companies utilize expert cobblers who know how to assemble shoes well.
Experts can tell when the stitching isn’t right or how to break the shoe open a bit to reduce blisters and discomfort.
This type of labor doesn’t come cheap.
In most cases, brands work with experienced craftsmen.
Experience is expensive.
Handmade products also take longer to produce.
Humans don’t work as fast as machines in most cases.
As such, the company must wait a longer time for humans to make shoes than they would for machines to make them.
That means their shoes cost them money before they’re able to make up for those costs.
Since their labor and production costs are so high, they need to sell their shoes at higher prices.
Shoes are expensive because some brands completely handmake them.
3. Running Shoe Technology
There are tons of different types of shoes.
One of the most popular is running shoes or athletic shoes.
Running shoes are a different breed of shoe.
They have certain features that basic shoes don’t.
In particular, one of the best aspects of running shoes is their lightweight nature.
Designers tend to try and make running shoes as light and aerodynamic as possible.
The goal is to improve the performance of the runner.
To achieve that goal, running shoes often use rare and expensive materials.
They also need to be durable.
Runners put a lot of stress and wear on their shoes.
Since they need decent durability, it means that these companies need to use even more expensive materials.
High-quality materials tend to be on the expensive side, after all.
Other running shoes will feature things like cooling technology or non-slip technology.
All these features cost the company money to research, develop, and implement.
Style plays a factor as well.
The end result is an expensive running shoe.
Shoes are expensive when they’re running or athletic shoes.
4. Shoes With Extra Protection
Another popular type of shoe is work shoes.
These shoes typically come with reinforced toes or heels.
They’re most commonly used in industrial or construction settings.
If a worker is in danger of dropping something heavy on their foot, then work shoes can be a lifesaver.
The problem with work shoes is that they’re expensive.
The primary reason they’re expensive is that companies use more materials to make them tough and durable.
For example, a company will typically research sturdy materials that they use to enhance the durability of their work shoes.
Then they need to source the material and begin to construct the shoe with it.
One example of this type of durable shoe is steel-tipped shoes.
Steel isn’t cheap.
Since the production costs of work shoes are expensive, the company has to ask for high prices for their shoes.
Higher prices cover the costs and ensure that the company can make a profit as well.
Shoes are expensive because of the production costs associated with making work shoes.
5. Limited Edition Shoes
Some of the most expensive shoes are those that are only on sale for a limited time.
This typically occurs when a big-name shoe designer or celebrity becomes involved with a shoe company.
They might release a new shoe design for a limited time as part of a collection.
Even less famous designers can make their shoes more expensive by having them available for a limited time.
The reason limited edition shoes are expensive is that it artificially creates a shortage.
The company will produce only a few shoes in that collection.
If demand is high for the collection, then it won’t take long for people to buy up the shoes.
Following the law of economics, when supply is low and demand is high, the price of the item increases.
It isn’t always celebrities and designers that make limited-edition shoes either.
Some stores will offer a limited run of certain shoes.
They might even use a seasonal approach.
Since this creates an artificial shortage, the prices of their shoes are expensive.
Shoes are expensive when they’re part of a limited-edition release.
6. Collectible Shoes
Perhaps some of the most expensive shoes are those that are collectible.
Sneakers, in particular, have a strong collectability to them.
Some sneakers can be worth thousands of dollars.
Some might even be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.
If you want to buy shoes that aren’t expensive, then you’ll want to stay away from collectible shoes.
There are a few features that make shoes collectible.
The first is brand.
Big names like Nike and Adidas are just some of the brands that often release highly collectible shoes.
Nike’s Air Jordan line is particularly expensive.
Adidas’ Yeezy collection is also popular.
That’s because both these brands have big-name celebrities attached to them.
Air Jordan belongs to Michael Jordan.
Yeezy belongs to Kanye West.
A lot of people will buy these shoes based on the celebrity connections alone.
Others buy the shoes for a specific design or color.
Each brand releases a new design of shoe either every year or every few years.
The design might change the overall look of the shoe.
It might be as simple as a rare color release or a different color from the original shoe.
The key aspect that makes these shoes collectible is that they’re only available for a limited time.
Once the company runs out of them, there are no more.
You have to buy secondhand if you want to get a pair of those shoes.
Since there’s a lot of value in shoes, people want to get their hands on them.
They can resell them at higher prices later.
It’s a great investment.
However, that means the original company wants its share of the earnings.
To get that share, it puts an expensive initial price on the shoes.
Shoes are expensive when they’re collectible.
7. Real Leather
Another major aspect that makes shoes expensive is the type of leather they use.
Cheap brands will use synthetic or faux leather.
It’s the cheapest to source.
More expensive brands will use real leather.
The type of animal leather they use also impacts the price.
The most common leather used in mid-tier shoes comes from a cow.
That said, there are also different breeds of cows.
Each one provides a different quality of leather.
Even leather that comes from calves, or young cows, is priced differently.
Calfskin leather is popular because of its soft texture.
It can make a very comfortable shoe.
Some shoe companies will use leather from pigs, sheep, or even goats.
There are also shoe brands that are more exotic and use uncommon types of leather.
Some of this leather comes from animals like alligators, kangaroos, and ostriches.
The rarer the animal is or the better quality the leather, the more expensive it is to source it.
To make up for their cost, shoe brands have to put a high price on their shoes.
Shoes are expensive when they use real high-quality leather.
8. Brand Name
The name associated with a shoe can also make it expensive.
Nike, for example, has made a reputation for itself in creating high-quality athletic shoes.
As such, when people see the Nike name, they tend to expect a more expensive price.
They’re buying the shoe for the company’s reputation.
Unknown brands or generic brands tend to be on the cheaper side.
They’re either targeting a less wealthy audience or haven’t built a reputation yet that allows them to get away with slightly more expensive prices.
When buying shoes, brand name plays a big factor in their price.
Shoes are expensive when big brand names make them.
Perhaps some of the most expensive shoes are those that are custom-made for you.
Cobblers will measure your feet, then stitch and sew shoes based on that size.
The result is a pair of shoes that fit your feet perfectly.
They also make shoes that match your particular style.
These types of shoes are expensive because you’re paying a cobbler to make a shoe specifically for you.
You will have to absorb the cost of materials and labor that go into the shoe.
Shoes are expensive when they’re custom-made.
One of the major reasons shoes are expensive is inflation.
It’s driven up the price of all shoes—even those that are usually on the cheaper side.
Inflation makes shoes expensive because it drives up costs.
The cost of resources and materials is more expensive.
The cost of energy and running a business is more expensive.
Since shoe companies are experiencing higher costs, they’re selling their products at higher prices.
Shoes are expensive because of inflation.