Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 61, Tuesday October 17, 2006



Shopping For Shoes

A walk to remember…

With the majority of people in Bangladesh using the cheapest mode of transport available to them, i.e. walking, it is no wonder that shoes are what sell most in Dhaka City. Of course, most shoe shoppers in Dhaka buy shoes simply for the fun of it. With a whole street (meaning the reputed Elephant Road) devoted to the selling of these amazing products, Lifestyle pays tribute to this ingenious invention by doing a little surveying of what's hot and happening.

Well, one might say, “Why name Elephant Road? Why not mention Rifles Square?” The answer is simple. Most of us do not like the drastic changes that are introduced into our social lives. Or rather, most of us just like to remain loyal to our typical habits. That is why even with new malls and shops mushrooming all over the posh locations of the city, we still tend to return to those conventional shops in the comparative run-down “street markets.” Though Bashundhara City offers the pleasure of shopping in a cool, polished atmosphere, a typical Bangali would end up in Rakhee to get something as simple (or should we say, as complex, since shoe shopping is hard!) as a pair of comfortable yet fashionable shoes.

Catching the trends for this year, we found that they vary vastly from those of the previous year, and learnt that this has always been so, since fashion, as well as time, waits for none! As one entertaining store-keeper kindly enlightened us, we really were too early to do an “Eid Special” survey, since the Eid offers do not start till after the tenth of Ramadan. Even then, we can give you a foretaste of what to expect.

This year, ladies have made their choice: flat soles over heels! So be prepared for showers of flat soled sandals and sandal shoes, as well as platforms. A few heels have made it through to the stores' display shelves however, and they have taken on the appearance of “glass heels,” while some are plain “pencil heels” with circular ends.

Talking of designs, the old “embroidered inner-sole” idea has been discarded (though some of these can be found at Excellence Shoes and Miss!), and the latest fashion of “embroidered straps and bands” can be seen dazzling the shoe shoppers. Aiding the embroidery are multi-coloured stones. For those shoppers who prefer slightly “toned down” styles, plain leather shoes, or ones with “solid colour suede bands” can also be found among the melee of stores. Also, cloth frills and lace straps helped shoemakers to create the perfect party shoes.

However, we started this article by talking of the street walkers, and for them, the stores in Elephant Road are a gold mine! With flat soled genuine leather sandals as well as closed shoes, walking seems like a very good idea. Latest of course are the “orthopedic” shoes, with rubber soles containing “pressure pads,” which your feet simply sink into. Now that's really comfy for you!

Well, ladies have received enough coverage and its time to capture the interest of our male readers. In this world of ever changing fashions, men too have a say. Though men's shoes are limited to sandals and sandal shoes, since the weather in Bangladesh disallows formal (or dance) shoes to be worn throughout the day with comfort, some sneakers have also managed to make their way into the market. The sandals and sandal shoes are all in the colour scheme of blacks and browns. What of other colours? The store keeper at Stallion's was ready with the facts at his finger tips. According to him, only 1-2% men prefer white sandals to black or brown. As for the other colours, they seem to be a total no-no! Remembering the previously mentioned sneakers, it becomes our duty to mention that for sneakers, Reebok and Nike stores are your best bet, though you might get them for cheaper rates at some of the other Elephant Road stores like Liberty.

Though formal shoes do not have much of a market, Bata's introduction of the Hush Puppies brand may just attract our male shoe shoppers to their doorstep. From what we have seen of these, the shoes are rather impressive, and definitely worth taking a look at, since with the arrival of winter, many formal events will arise, where the need for new, shiny and well buffed shoes in order to create a good impression on the ladies is a certainty.

Before we come to the end of our shoe survey, we'll take a look at the last batch of customers on our list…children! Children's shoes are quite a hassle to buy, but once you enter the stores, the varieties will make you wish you had more children to buy shoes for, or at least they will make you buy your boy or girl an extra pair of shoes as a treat. Almost all the stores in Elephant Road cater for children. From cute sandals with lights and “noise-makers” for your two year old to beautiful frilly lace covered pumps for your little princess, these stores have them all!

However, Bata seems to be taking the lead concerning children's shoes at least. Their present slogan of “Eid abong Bata, eki shutay gatha” brings a smile to your face, and entices you to check out their range of colourful collections for feet of all possible sizes for kids and parents alike. What's more, the shop manager, Mr. Ali Hossain, other than being quite helpful in displaying their products, also showed us some cute little money bags that Bata has made, only to make this Eid a more enjoyable one for their little customers!

Such an amazing bargain for non-compromising quality is definitely one of those reasons as to why these Elephant Road shops never fail to conquer the top position of the list of such a large numbers of customers. The shops here seem to follow a set price range. Most ladies shoes and sandals are available within the range of 600 to 2500 taka only. Men's formal shoes are offered at prices ranging from 1500 to 3000 taka, while sandals can be bought at cheaper rates. The prices of children's shoes start from 200 taka and do not exceed 1200 taka.

By Rohini Alamgir and Nusrat Khandker
Photo: Amirul Rajiv
Special thanks to Rakhee Shoes for arranging the photo shoot.



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