The inspiration for this post actually came from a twitter chat with #makedoandmendhour where we were discussing “value for money” and the cost of repairing items. I think a lot of people mistake an item being “value for money” with a cheap (or cheaper) item – but is that really the case?
About 10 years ago I started working in a high end retail shop. The shoes were well made in the UK or Europe, they were 100% leather and retailed between £150 and £300. Whilst working there I bought a pair of brown leather knee high boots for £100 (you’ve gotta love staff discount!). Now, that’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of boots, but they lasted for 5 years, with minimal or no repairs needed.
After I returned from travelling my outlook had changed on money and fashion and I refused to spend that much again on boots or shoes. I started going for the cheaper options that are available from the high street. Buying a pair of boots for £15 – £30 became the norm, they would usually last me a winter and then rapidly start to disintegrate and end up in the bin. The cost of replacing a sole would have cost more than the boots themselves so in my mind it was easier and better to just buy a new pair.
Over the next 5 years, I spent an average of £25 on boots per winter, maybe even more if I bought 2 pairs, so we’re looking at a spend of at least £125 – with 5 pairs of boots in the bin instead of 1 pair.
So which were the better value for money? The expensive boots that were 100% leather, made in Europe and that lasted for 5 years? Or the many pairs of rubber boots made elsewhere in the world, racking up air miles, and also with the risk of being made by workers who are victims of substandard working conditions.
A more recent example is my latest boot purchase. I’d been looking for a new pair of boots for ages – I knew exactly what I wanted: mid-calf, lace up, chunky and black. These Dr Martens were the dream, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.
I thought my luck had come when I found these boots on the high street, they had a RRP of £30 but they were £10 in the sale – result! I spent a couple of quid on some ribbon from my local haberdashery and voila, I’d pretty much replicated the look!
I was ecstatic, I’d spent less than £15 and I’d customised them to make them original – the boots were perfect.
Then they started to fall apart.
Now, I do walk a lot, but falling apart after just a couple of months wasn’t great. I bought another pair for £10 to replace the original pair but the same thing happened again. Enough was enough – winter was coming and I needed some decent boots, without compromising on the style that I was trying to achieve.
Luckily, due to moving house and being able to save a bit of rent money, I had enough to buy my dream Dr Martens, and I’m pleased to say I haven’t looked back since. They’ve easily made it through winter and they still look great. They are so well made they seem to be withstanding even my heavy walking.
So my mind is made up. “Value for money” doesn’t mean cheap, value for money is buying quality products that last. This might mean paying a bit more money to start with, but in the long run you’re so much better off.