Sunday, January 01, 2012


The concept isn't a new one but we're used to seeing it with books or wine. It seems the model has taken a fascinating turn with women's Shoe of the Month clubs hotting it up in the USA.

They all work the same way. You start by responding to a short survey, which purportedly allows the club's style maestros to identify your likes and style. Then, at the beginning of each month, you are presented with a selection of shoes designed to your taste from which to pick in your inbox. Choose a pair and they are sent post-haste with free shipping (only in the US). If nothing takes your fancy you are given a small window at the start of each month to decline to participate that month.

From the bargain-basement, no-frills eShoeClub (which offers a remarkable two pairs for $29.95) to the Kim Kardashian co-founded Shoedazzle and the other equally as large Just Fabulous (offering one pair a month for $39.95) to Sole Society Inc. (offering shoes at $49.95 a month) to the highest price tag of the Rachel Bilson backed ShoeMint (coming in at a much higher price point of $79.98).

All of these clubs make similar claims to being on-trend and fashion-forward and all create custom shoes, not shoes you can buy in stores. Most have some kind of celebrity endorsement and claim to have professional style consultants that match designs to the taste of their customers.

The advantage to the online store is obvious, a locked-in database and projected sales. And this market isn't a puny one, according to the Los Angeles Times, Just Fabulous has four million members and Sole Society half a million. Shoedazzle, co founded by reality TV heavyweight Kim Kardashian, has $60 million in investors. JustFabulous projects sales of 2.5 to 3 million pair next year. That's a whole lot of shoes!

While I applaud the merits of shoe clubs I do like to touch feel and experience the thrill of the chase so I'm not sure it's for me. Call me old fashioned.

@traceygillinder would like to apologize for cheating on Shoe Addict readers. Forgive me? Then check out the new Brisbane Times Plus One Column!

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