Of shoes and men

I have a dear friend who used to say that a woman should always have three men in her life: the one currently in her heart, a second recently dispatched, and a third waiting in the wings.

I now have a  comparable philosophy about shoes. Every woman should have one pair that are reliably perfect, a second pair that she’s just breaking in, and a third pair that she is actively seeking online and in stores.

ShoeCamp: An (imaginary) unconference for the footwear-obsessed

The wonderful Madeline Stanionis left a comment on one of (several) shoe-related Facebook posts I wrote yesterday, suggesting we get together to talk only about shoes sometime. This suggests a wonderful possibility for an unconference:

ShoeCamp: The footwear unconference

With events and tracks on:

  • Online shoe shopping: Sites, search engines and search hacks
  • Traveling with shoes: the essential packing list for any length of trip
  • New frontiers in shoe design
  • Shoe blogging
  • Best styles and sources for large-size shoes
  • Best styles and sources for small-size shoes
  • Heels: when is it worth the suffering? How high is too high? How do you mitigate the short- and long-term impacts?
  • Best shoe styles for orthotic wearers
  • Coping with asymmetric feet
  • Shoe fetishes and foot fetishes
  • Pedicure wisdom: the best colours and embellishments for your open-toed footwear
  • Sandals and socks/tights: Great trend or crime against footwear?
  • Shoe storage and display solutions
  • The great shoe swap: Bring the beloved pairs that don’t work for you but could work for someone else
  • Shoe walk: A visit to the best shoe stores in the city

More suggestions for unconference events are very welcome. Campers, you are the most obvious sponsors for an event named ShoeCamp, but Zappos, we’re open to offers.

12-Step Social Media Scanner & Intervention Bot

Also, there should be a 12-step bot that constantly scans people’s social media feeds for signs that things are out of control, like this:

many shoes being pinned onto pinterest
…and then tweets you the location of your nearest AA, Overeaters Anonymous or Shoppers Anonymous, depending on the particular content and nature of your web-enabled misdeeds.

YouDrawIt: The shopping engine that lets you drive

As anyone who follows me on Pinterest will have noticed, I’ve been spending a truly sick amount of time looking at sandals over the past few weeks. That’s not (just) because online shoe shopping is my new favourite way of switching off my brain, but because it’s pretty hard to find summer sandals that work for orthotics…and come in size 11.

Amazon shop by shape

Amazon's shop by shape

Zappos (among other sites) tries to help by letting me narrow my search by heel height. Amazon misses that option, but instead offers a “shop by shape” feature which, in principle, is kind of nice. But it misses the key criterion for me — is the shoe closed enough to hold an orthotic? — and I’m guessing that there are other shoppers who have highly specific search criteria that aren’t captured by the shape options Amazon offers.

Why should our searches be limited to the criteria someone else anticipates? What I’d really like is a shopping engine that lets me draw the shape I’m looking for —  whether it’s a shoe, a shirt or a dress — and then searches the site for items that appear to match my shape. And while you’re at it, let me specify my colour choice and tolerance (do I want to search for a specific grey, or anything between light black and almost-white?), my heel incline (i.e. let me subtract the height of a hefty platform from the heel height) and whether I want to shop based on the item’s original price or its sale price (annoyingly, if you tell Amazon to show you items that are 50% off and under $200 dollars, you won’t see items that used to be $300 and are now $150).

In other words, let me define the criteria for my search, instead of sticking to your narrow little boxes. Yes, it’s a big tech challenge, and it is way easier to set up a search tool (and categorize inventory) if you define the criteria for me.

But tough tech challenges are what make for game-changing tech innovations. Nobody needs another Amazon. What we need is the shopping site that does what Amazon can’t.