Up until recently, the idea of shoe shopping filled me with dread. So much so, that I had almost stopped doing it completely. Since the age of fifteen I’ve been a women’s size 43 shoe, which meant that my teenage years were filled with unattractive shoes made for older women or fashionable shoes that were actually too small and ended in pain. During my early twenties I had resigned myself to wearing sneakers and plimsoles the majority of the time, and any nicer shoes that I did find in my size were completely worn into the ground.
But that didn’t mean that I stopped loving shoes. I still lusted over styles in magazines and complimented my friends on their footwear, asking them what brand they were and where they got them. Call it living vicariously, if you like. And I still walked into shoe stores, but there’s only so many times you can fall in love with a pair of shoes then find out that they’re not in your size, before you begin to associate shoe shopping with frustration and depression. Plus if you add that to well meaning shop assistants who are skilled at giving you the “aw, I’m so sorry you have big feet” grimace, the pleasure of shoe stores quickly loses its sheen.
This all changed around May 2011. A good friend of mine is the designer of a fantastic label called Provensen. Her first range was filled with directional yet wearable styles that I was determined to get my hands on but unfortunately only went up to a size 41. The good news came at announcement of her second season. This time she was going up to a size 43.
It was at this revelation that I started thinking about the possibilities of an online store for women’s shoes in larger sizes. Designers and labels were able to make the sizes, but no one was taking the risk of stocking them. Or perhaps both parties were just unaware of the share of the market that these sizes make up. So it made perfect sense for Uncommon Ground to become the place where this market could be reached.
Last year, UK department store Debenhams released research that showed women’s shoe sizes had increased a size and half in the past 20 years, and as I’m writing this piece Uncommon Ground is undertaking market research to investigate exactly what size of the Australian market fits into this niche category. So far the results are higher than even we suspected.
Our next step is starting this conversation with designers in the hope that they can assess the value of increasing their size ranges. And, along the way, show that size shouldn’t be a limit on how fashionable you can be.
We currently stock Australian and New Zealand designers such as December Forever, Nat-Sui and WhyWho. For AW12 we’ll also have The Horse and Kathryn Wilson. These labels go to at least a 43, while Provensen are one of the very first labels to speak to their manufacturer about increasing their sizes to a women’s 44 and 45 exclusively forUncommon Ground in AW12.
This personal testimonial was written by Krissy – founder of Uncommon Ground, bringing the bliss back into shoe shopping because finally the shoe fits.
If you are a shoe company or footwear designer who caters to women of a size 39 and above, then please contact Uncommon Ground. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org