High heel shoes cost comparison

Is there any excuse for some shoes costing 12 times as much as others?
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  • Updated:1 Jul 2008

03.The road test

Before we tore the shoes to pieces, a few willing CHOICE women took the three different pairs for a roadtest around the office.

The heels on the Nine West pair caused the wobbles for our trialists. Our experts weren’t surprised, saying that the smaller surface area of the heel and the upturned ‘Turkish-style’ toe were to blame for this instability. However, seasoned heel wearers may not find it a problem. The Anne Kleins and the Payless felt far more stable by comparison.

For both looks and comfort, trialists preferred the way the toe on the Anne Klein and Payless pairs sat almost flat to the floor, unlike the Nine West’s slightly upturned toe.

The Anne Kleins were bit tight in the toe department, but their high-quality leather quickly started stretching to fit the wearer. The Nine West and the Payless shoes were roomier in the toe area.

Because the Payless were entirely synthetic, they caused a noticeable problem in the sweaty-foot department.

All three pairs were a size 8, but the Payless were wider and longer than the other two pairs. The Anne Kleins and the Nine Wests were similar in length but the Anne Kleins were also narrower, so felt smaller to some trialists.

We also covered up the labels and asked people to pick which shoe they thought was the most expensive. Most picked the Payless.

The sleekness, and the quality and softness of the leather on the Anne Kleins made them a favourite, but wearers confessed they wouldn’t be prepared to spend $425.

CHOICE verdict

Our expert panellists thought the range of prices reflected the range in quality: the more expensive the shoes were, the better quality their materials. But in terms of construction and strength, all three pairs were similar.

  • The Payless shoes would be fine for wearing out every now and then, but on a day-to-day basis your feet will be better off in leather shoes.
  • The softness, leather quality and sleek look (complete with toe cleavage) of the Anne Kleins rated highly. This pair would be the best for your feet because they’re leather inside and out. But at $425, you pay for that privilege — as well as for the prestige of the designer label.
  • Despite the Nine Wests’ wobbling issues, the panel thought they were the best value for money. Its leather upper is likely to last longer than the Payless vinyl.
  • The synthetic lining of the Payless won’t be as comfortable as a leather one, but at $285 less than the Anne Kleins, you might think the compromise is worth it.
  • Look for a full leather shoe (uppers and linings) for the same price as the Nine Wests — that would be the ideal.

Meet the experts


Casper Ozinga

Honorary Secretary of the Australian Pedorthic Medical Grade Footwear Association and Managing Director of Comfort and Fit Australia, a NSW company that specialises in orthopaedic, comfort and speciality footwear.

Andrew McDonald

Designs and constructs handmade shoes. While he makes tailored shoes for any size of foot, he’s also created specialised footwear for films such as The Star Wars Trilogy and Mission Impossible 2.

Tony Butler

New Development Manager, Sandler Shoes Australia. He’s been working in the design area of the shoe industry for 30 years.


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