Friday, February 17, 2012

Noah Shoes Wear and Use

This post has been a long time coming! As my shoes continue to gain in popularity, I want to thank everyone who has ordered them or complimented me on them. I started making the shoes because my oldest son, Noah, is on the large side and has a wide foot (he's two and a half now and wears a 9W in a traditional shoe). I felt that just because he was larger does not mean he's more developed and ready for a structured shoe. I wanted him to remain in soft soled shoes to promote proper growth and development of his feet. I had difficulty finding soft soled shoes in sizes larger than 18-24 mo which he grew out of at 20 mo of age. The few I did find available, were only available online and would cost me more than I like to spend on shoes for myself - and I don't grow out of shoes in 6 mo! I had no idea when I started making these that they'd be so popular and that so many people would be interested in purchasing them. I should have known that there would be many moms out there interested in obtaining this style of shoe for their little ones at an affordable price!

I'm writing this blog to provide a little bit more insight on how these shoes work and wear. Since Noah has been wearing these shoes for almost a year now and has gone through several pairs, I have plenty of experience. First, I will explain how Noah wears these shoes. Noah has one pair of shoes. Count that, one. That means these shoes are the only ones he wears for everything. Although we don't typically wear shoes around our house, they are worn for every expedition. Noah has trampled over rocks and pebbles without a peep or negative sound, he runs around play grounds and at parks. He is a HUGE climber. His shoes are for lack of a better term, abused. Greatly. Noah will wear through a pair about every 2-3 months and is in a new size every 4-6 months.

Some dirt and fading can be seen
as the first sign of wear.
The first and most obvious show of wear on these shoes is the color fade. I'd like to say they stay nice, bright, and new looking, but I think the proximity to the ground, especially if worn for outdoor play means that the shoes will get dirty and the color will fade slightly. This, of course, has no bearing whatsoever on the function of the shoe, but it is something to note. Also, you will see the impression of your child's foot begin to show on the bottom of the shoe where pressure starts to wear the sole. This is to be expected and again, has no negative effect on the function of the shoe.

This is the impression of Noah's foot starting to become
evident on the bottom of his shoe after about one week
of use. Some fading and dirt are apparent on the top of the
shoe as well.
These shoes demonstrate how the soles look after several
weeks of wear. They are worn and smooth.
As your child continues to wear the shoe, you will see a more obvious sign of wear on the sole of the shoe. The area where your child's foot is continuously applying pressure to the leather will become worn and smooth. In most cases, this will not cause problems, however, some slipping may occur on smooth surfaces that may be seen at playgrounds and in children's play areas. For me, it is a benefit of the shoe, since I feel it makes Noah a better climber and more surefooted, because his climbing is slightly challenged. That being said, some moms find their child slips too much and may prefer a rubber sole or one with more traction on these types of surfaces. For walking around or playing on the ground, the smoothing out of the leather offers no negative effects to function.

These are two pairs of shoes that were "retired" after use
because of the wear and tear they sustained. You can clearly
see the holes starting to wear in the toes of the shoes. These
holes are only in the outer layer of the shoe.
Because these shoes are fabric, the next sign of wear you will likely see is the fabric wearing through at the large toe on one or both shoes. I find that this is more common in children that walk forward in their shoes. You may also observe this for children that drag their feet or do not pick them up well between steps. Noah has only worn one hole completely through on the shoes that he has had. The fabric is reinforced with a heavy interfacing on both the outer and inner fabrics. I am constantly looking for ways to further reinforce the toe area of the shoe; however, as they are fabric and not leather, it is to be expected that they are likely to wear more quickly. The shoes can still be worn for quite some time even after a worn spot or "hole" starts as it will take some time for it to wear completely through. As I mentioned, Noah has only ever gotten one through-and-through hole in a single shoe.

Heel wear is apparent on this pair of shoes.
Because Noah walks a bit forward in his shoes, the front of the shoe often wears through first. I have noticed, however, some of his shoes will start to wear at the back too. This is most often the case when the shoe is getting too small. His foot pushes the back panel out so it will rub against the ground beyond the edge of the leather sole and wear the fabric near the seam line. This fabric is not reinforced like the top fabric is, yet Noah still has not worn a complete hole through this part of the shoe either. I've likely replaced it before this begins to occur.

A few other notes about these shoes:

As I've mentioned before, these shoes are fabric and although I use sturdy materials and reinforce it, they are not likely to last as long as you may expect from an all-leather shoe. It is recommended that you have two or more pairs of shoes to use interchangeably to extend the wear of the shoes.

Also, these shoes are porous and are not recommended in wet conditions. If they do become wet, so will your child's foot. They will dry quickly, however. I do not recommend washing of these shoes, but if absolutely necessary, they can be machine washed. Do not heat dry them. Let them air dry or, if needed, you may put them on the air only setting in your dryer. If/when these shoes do get wet, the leather will stiffen as it dries. It will become soft and pliable again after your child's next use.

These shoes are ideal for early walkers as it allows children to feel the ground beneath their feet. Noah doesn't seem to mind walking over pebbles, but your child will feel them and may be uncomfortable so be aware of where they are walking.

I hope this helps give insight into the wear and use of these wonderful shoes. Please contact me if you have additional questions or would like to order a pair. I am currently looking into new designs for some of the shoes, so keep checking back for updates.