Fun fact for the young 'uns: Didja know that the SM in SM Department Stores stands for Shoe Mart? Oh, don't look at me like your parents forgot to tell you. Even now, whenever our family goes to Mall of Asia, we still make arrangements to meet at ShoeMart.
And as much as it makes certain brand-conscious fasyonistas cringe (especially when you consider that we now have Aldo entering the market here), it's hard to deny that SM still has one of the best shoe selections in the Philippines. Never mind that the shoe-buying experience here isn't the same as, say, Macy's or Neiman Marcus; you still have to shop by brand, or else you'll be adding five more minutes to your wait time while the staff tracks down your exact size and style. You may not be paying for the ambiance, but trust me here - the shoes themselves are so worth it.
Take, for example, these red flats, from SM's Parisian house brand.
Any well-heeled fasyonista will tell you that the "leather" on these babies is so fake that it's practically cruelty-free, and the rubber soles make them look very cheap. But do I care? Heck no. These are go-anywhere shoes for me: polished enough for a job interview (there's something very Dior about the big buckles and the round toes) but tough enough for me to walk through puddled streets. I even use these shoes during my driving lessons, because they give me the traction that I oh-so-desperately need for working with manual transmission. Not to mention that these shoes fit better the more I wear them, too. And, since I bought these last month at the can't-fail sale price of P499 (roughly US$10), it's practically a steal.
Also from the Parisian line, and also on sale for P499: these strappy sandals.
Again with the cheap "leather" - and to be honest, the heels on these babies do a little wobbling whenever I walk. (I'll need to hunt down a store that sells Foot Petals, or at least those Dr. Scholls inserts.) Yet, I love the plummy-brown color of these shoes, and the strappiness is practically Aldo-esque and Sofft-like in its own way, without the ridiculous markups. These are probably the closest I'll get right now to the ongoing gladiator/ S&M trend without the bank-breaking consequences... and even with all the extraneous retrofitting, which would still put the grand total for these shoes at par with what I would've spent at Nordstrom Rack for a similar pair.
I didn't get to check out all the other brands, but I've tried a few of them on during my last SM trip and I can say that their prices are still relatively affordable (within the Payless range) even if they do have a considerable edge over the Parisians in terms of materials and design. Still, it's fascinating how a lot of the local shoe manufacturers are finally catching up with the global trends - which only makes it easier for me to get my shoe fix whenever necessary. Already I'm thinking about going back to SM for a pair of boot-cuffed flat sandals similar to these, which are beginning to look more like a brilliant idea to me in spite of my muscular calves. Oh how I wish! :)