In today's microdose we're talking about the price of footwear. Specifically, I want to answer these questions:
- Why are natural shoes more expensive?
- Why is footwear more expensive in Canada?
- What are the hidden costs of unnatural shoes?
Why are natural shoes more expensive?
In my opinion, the most expensive shoes are the ones that damage our feet. Often times, cheap shoes carry the highest long term cost. While the price of a $150 unnatural running shoe might be lower than a comparable natural shoe, the former also carries with it the cost of mis-aligned toes, stiffened foot joints, manipulated posture, and disabled feet. Long term, these costs can also add up in time, energy and dollars when we consider the price of treatments from a physiotherapist, podiatrist, visits to the doctor and in some cases, surgery to correct issues caused by the cheap, unnatural shoes that we may have worn for decades.
The best way to sum up natural footwear (in general) is: Less, but better.
Less materials, but better materials
Less "technology", but better design
Less "stuff" which allows for more foot function
In general like anything else, when buying natural footwear you get what you pay for. A more expensive shoe will typically include better materials and use more advanced manufacturing techniques that offer improved durability and less points of failure.
Beyond the physical materials of the shoe, natural footwear is made in a more natural way. Compared to big brands like Nike, Adidas or Reebok, suppliers like Shamma, Origo and Lems consist of smaller teams working smaller factories that pay workers a living wage and manufacture in a more environmentally and human conscious way. This adds to the cost of making shoes and therefore, the price that a customer will end up paying.
Footwear made in big factories by low wage workers, using cheap materials, a conventional unnatural design that doesn't align with human biology and sold in a megastore will always carry a cheaper price tag. Hidden behind this cheaper price is hidden costs to humans, the environment and one's foot health. When we consider all the hidden costs, inexpensive unnatural shoes actually end up bring the most expensive shoes!!
Why is footwear more expensive in Canada?
Sole Freedom is a Canadian company and we strive to offer an amazing experience for our Canadian customers. While we still sell products globally, we will likely limit international sales to balance beams in the coming years in order to focus our energy and resources on domestic natural footwear sales.
We often get asked why our footwear is more expensive when compared to pricing in the USA or Europe for the same shoes. The simple answer is a greedy and incompetent Canadian government. Below I explain tariffs and currency mismanagement to unpack how that greed and incompetence materializes in higher footwear prices:
1) an 18% outdated tariff which effectively creates a shadow tax on footwear for all Canadians. In addition, administering this tariff creates brokerage fees that add another 5-10% depending on the order size. All that on top of the 13% HST and additional provincial taxes.
Here is an example of a recent UPS invoice summary from someone who purchased a pair of shoes from Europe and had them delivered in Quebec:
Cost of shoes: $173.74 CAD
Tariff (18%): $31.27
Brokerage fee (approx 10%): $17.00
Product & service tax (TPS): $10.25
Quebec sales tax: $20.45
Sales tax: $1.70
Tax on tariff: $0.55
CR tax (whatever that means?): $0.30
Total taxes and tariffs: $81.52 (approx 47% of the value of the shoes)
This is pure and utter government greed and serves as one example of why life is becoming so unaffordable for many Canadians.
Most of our footwear suppliers are outside of Canada so we pay that 18% tariff on all incoming footwear which must be passed on to our customers. Because we pay that amount on wholesale pricing and cover the brokerage fees, we save Canadians a bit of money and the stress of being extorted at the door by the UPS guy if they want to accept delivery of a pair of shoes they purchased outside of Canada.
The point of a tariff is to protect domestic manufacturing. We don't manufacture shoes in Canada so this ends up simply being yet another added tax for Canadians.
2) Gross mismanagement of the Canadian dollar by the bank of Canada is cutting away at our purchasing power and making everything more expensive for Canadians. Commonly known as "inflation", this decrease in purchasing power (which shows up as higher prices) is always a derivative of money printing to fuel reckless government spending. Ill save you the rant on that for another day.
We buy most of our footwear from international suppliers who charge us in $USD.
In May of 2021 buying a shoe for $100usd costed us $120cad. Today, that same $100usd shoe costs us $138cad. In 2 years shoes have gotten 15% more expensive for Canadians because our politicians are mis-managing our national currency and stealing our purchasing power. It's really messed up.
What are the hidden costs of unnatural shoes?
While the price of unnatural shoes might be cheaper than natural shoes, the cost is much steeper when we factor in the pain, time, energy, and money that we end up paying to treat all of the issues that are caused by wearing shoes that damage our feet.
On the flipside of that, if we factor in the healing benefits of wearing shoes that allow us an opportunity to restore natural foot function with every step, natural shoes might be the cheapest things we can cover our feet with even if they carry a higher price tag.
Think about it: wearing natural shoes is a more effective way to heal your feet long term than any treatment you receive from a professional. Natural shoes ARE the treatment to almost all foot dysfunction. This doesn't negate the value one can receive from working 1:1 with a pro, but the truth is that the environment your feet spend the most time in has the largest impact on your foot health.
Potential hidden costs that are caused (partially or wholly) by unnatural shoes: bunions, plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails, stiff feet, achy feet, postural issues at the ankle, knee and low back and poor movement habits to name a few.
In addition to the costs to our foot health, cheap shoes also carry the intangible cost to our planet in the form of more materials and "stuff" that will eventually need to be disposed of. Natural shoes: less but better. Less materials, better design, longer lasting, lower planetary impact.
- Natural shoes generally have a higher price because they are made differently. Less materials, better materials, and better design which allows us to restore foot health.
- Unnatural shoes generally have a lower price because they are made in larger numbers, with cheaper materials, unnatural design but carry a steep cost to the health of our feet over the long term.
- Shoes in Canada are more expensive because our greedy government charges unnecessary tariffs and manipulates our currency.
- When we factor in the hidden foot health costs of unnatural shoes and the hidden foot health benefits of natural shoes, low priced unnatural shoes are super expensive and higher priced natural footwear is incredibly inexpensive.
Clearly I'm biased but that's my truth.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this article valuable and if you did, please share it with others.
Remember...this information only has benefit when applied in your life.
The first step: invest in your foot health by choosing natural footwear and gradually eliminating unnatural shoes from your closet. We hope to earn your business by constantly striving to create a great natural footwear purchase experience here at Sole Freedom.
Ciao for now