Shoe Shopping and Celebrity Endorsements

Warning: I am about to reveal evidence that proves I am a shoe snob. I understand that some readers may disagree with my opinions about the shoe selection in Switzerland, but perhaps you can understand where I'm coming from if you realize that my parents raised me to appreciate gorgeous, well-made leather shoes. Furthermore, I have been disappointed with my shoe shopping experiences in this country not for lack of high-quality shoes but for lack of value for my money.

Up until recently, I was on the lookout for a new pair of flats. (Ever since the ankle incident of July 2009, I have not been able to successfully wear high-heeled shoes. And since I don't really care to wear sneakers for the next six months (or longer) until my foot finally heals, I'd decided to treat myself to some cute flat footwear to cheer me up.) My requirements were simple: something stylish, comfortable, versatile, well made, and reasonably priced. However, in my current neck of the woods, these basic principles of shoe shopping are completely nonexistent. Here it seems I have only two options: pay super crazy prices for designer and/or well-made leather shoes or pay mid-range to crazy prices for poorly made, cheap-looking shoes. (See? Snob.)

Back in San Diego, my problem would be fixed in a jiffy with a trip to Nordstrom (during a sale) or Nordstrom Rack (or my trusty shoe shop on the Mexican border, which shall remain nameless because then you'd know my secret place for buying fab shoes on the cheap.) Here in Switzerland, the issue isn't that I can't find a decent pair of flats, but rather that I refuse to pay 150 CHF or more for them! At the lower-end shops, similar to Payless, you'll pay Payless prices for Payless quality. Then there are shops in the mid-price range that, unfortunately, still look like Payless shoes. I will admit, though, that when my sister was here, she managed to find two pairs of cute boots for around 50 CHF per pair, one at Max Shoes and the other at a shoe boutique in St. Gallen. (A stroke of good luck, I tell you.)

In my price range we have Dosenbach: Home of Cindy Crawford for Dosenbach, a.k.a. the Fifth Avenue Collection. I kid you not. (Cindy, really? Really?) When I first saw an advertisement for her collection (ha!), I got all excited because I think she's a pretty fab supermodel, so I figured that surely she would only associate herself with fabulous shoes. Not so. OK, so the shoes are made of real leather (wow), but the styles are just unacceptable. At 50 Euros a pair or more, which is the equivalent price of a decent pair of Nine West shoes, I expected there to be a lot more going on.

During a recent trip to Bern, I had my eye on a couple of different pairs of shoes in the 150 CHF - 220 CHF price range. Isaiah was ready to buy me a pair for my birthday, but I just couldn't allow him to do it. Me and shoe shopping in Switzerland will never do well together because I don't do RETAIL and Switzerland doesn't do DISCOUNT. Well, at least not the way America does it. In the States, if you know where to look, you can buy well-made, stylish shoes that originally retail for $150 but are available at half price. These deals happen all year round, not just during government-mandated sales season. I just couldn't bring myself to buy cute flats for 150 CHF while knowing that back in San Diego I could get two pairs of equally cute shoes for the same amount of money. You see, I've got principles.

Sneakers it is. At least for the next couple of months...


  1. I would recommend Bata ( It's not as cheap as Dosenbach, Vögele, etc., but the shoes are actually leather, well-manufactured (for the price) and comfy. And adorably cute (except the current collection, what where they thinking?).

    The discount shoes shops (Dosenbach and Co) have really crappy fake leather shoes (not to mention, pretty ugly), you pay 30 francs, but they hurt so much, it's a pure waste of money.

    Good luck shoes hunting...

  2. Well, hem: comment on Bata's website. I had never checked it and it's full of quite expensive brands. But the Bata branded shoes in the shop are actually reasonably priced.

  3. Hi M'dame Jo - Thanks for the comments and suggestions. You know, I haven't gone into the Bata shops in CH, but I have purchased shoes at the Bata shops in Italy. That was back in November of 2008 and I really liked the selection. My mom bought three pairs of stylish pumps (Bata brand) and bought me a pair of boots (also Bata brand). I went again during our winter 2009/2010 trip to Italy and I didn't see anything that I liked. The prices are good, but the styles seem to be hit-or-miss. I'll have to stop in one of the CH stores soon and see what I can find. Cheers!

  4. [...] the styles seem to be hit-or-miss

    I couldn't agree more. Last fall and winter were hits. I really had to fight not to buy a pair a week. This spring is a miss. But the have new models regularly...

  5. Good to know! (and good thing the closest Bata is 30 minutes or more by public transport and NOT within walking distance or I'd be in trouble!)

  6. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for your comment on my return to blogging! I really agree with you on the shoe-shopping front. I needed some smartish sneaker type shoes for everyday. I trailed round Baden and Winterthur but had a problem with paying 169.-CHF. In the end, last Thursday, whilst waiting at the airport, I saw there was a Vögele, went in and bought some reasonable looking sneakers for 50.-CHF. You know what? They are terrible. They have no support and make my feet hurt after just 5 mins. Guess they will be going on Ricardo and I will be paying 169.-CHF! Alternatively, you could pop across the border to Germany or Austria....
    Happy hunting

  7. So true! We can find nice boots for reasonable prices here, but that's about it. All my flats and summer shoes come from Brazil ;-)

  8. Ugg! I couldn't agree more with your frustrations! What I would do for a Nordstrom Rack in Switzerland--I love the thrill of finding all leather, italian-made treasure for $50. There's no fun in shopping if you can't find a deal. I always finish the day feeling like someone is cheating me...

    Anyway, great post--very cathartic. Thanks!

  9. Hi Vicky - We have popped over the border to get my husband some leather sneakers because he prefers the selection at Messe Park in Dornbirn, Austria. Plus, it is a lot closer than our closest "big city" (St. Gallen), so it makes sense to do some of our shopping there.

    Hi Carla - That doesn't surprise me at all. Brazil makes some beautiful shoes!

    Hi Sarah - so true!! I am addicted to looking at the "compare at" price and calculating how much money I've saved!

  10. I'm with you on this! I just went to Paris and there was this cute shop (in the train station) with $30 shoes...and I actually liked them but wasn't convinced at the time. Then I get back here and look around and almost cried because now I CAN'T buy shoes here on principle anymore. Nope. So I'm definitely with you..

  11. Hi Krystal - Oh no! $30 shoes in Paris and you passed? I hope you've learned your lesson!

  12. I bought the most expensive pair of shoes I've ever owned in Zurich in a shop on the Lowenstrasse ... I questioned the purchase until I started wearing them back home and they are - bar none - the most comfortable good looking flat shoes I've ever owned ... (I've had comfortable and I've had good looking ... just not the combo). The brand name was Vabene ... if you ever see them in the semi annual sale they might be worth trying but unfortunately there may be no going back (I also never buy retail and usually balk at more than $40 for any shoes!)

  13. Hi Sharon - Thanks so much for sharing what reads like wonderful insider information. I really do see the value in spending more money if the payoff is true comfort and style, it's just that I've never had any guarantee that the shoes I see around here for 150 CHF or more could really offer both! I'll be on the look out for that label!

  14. come to barcelona you'll find tons of wonderful shoes at reasonable prices!


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