$15 or $100? Why some school shoes cost so much

They say if it's too good to be true it probably is and, for parents thinking about buying cheap school shoes, you may need to think again.

Finding the right pair of school shoes is fraught. From Aldi's $15 range to Ascent and Clarks' $100-plus shoes, podiatrists say choosing the right shoe is more about protecting the feet than trying to save money.

"Children tend to be quite active at school and need shoes which can stand up to the test," says podiatrist Rudo Makuyana from The Foot Hub.

Fourth grader John-Paul in his new ROC school shoes at home with mum Alama and sister Mary-Therese. Photo: Fiona Morris

Fourth grader John-Paul in his new ROC school shoes at home with mum Alama and sister Mary-Therese. Photo: Fiona Morris

Ms Makuyana says a child's feet develop until the age of seven, and the bones in the foot have not yet fully formed. She says it's important to not settle for the cheaper options as they may hinder development.

"To sell a shoe that retails for $15, a lot of shortcuts must be made in materials as well as fitting services in store," Ms Makuyana said.

Ms Makuyana says it is worth investing in the higher-end brands as they "have been put to the test so you are guaranteed that the shoes will last longer and won't need to be replaced after the first term".

Kate McArthur, a podiatrist from City Feet Clinic, agrees, saying expensive shoes come with more attributes, such as "toe box protection, shank, stitching and glue and are generally better quality."

"If you can afford it, you do get a stable shoe with better quality leather."

For Erin Giansiracusa, mother to Angus 7 and Eddie 5 , comfort and style is what she looks for when shopping for school shoes as "they need to look good but also be wearable for five days a week".

But durability is also important for her and she is "happy to spend money on good quality shoes, over the cheaper brands".

Herbie Khan with his mother, Nicole Graham, assisted by Paulina Jagiellowicz, tries on new school shoes. Photo: Janie Barrett

Herbie Khan with his mother, Nicole Graham, assisted by Paulina Jagiellowicz, tries on new school shoes. Photo: Janie Barrett

Ms McArthur says there are "plenty of cheaper brands and models out there". If you buy them, they should be "comfortable and have rubber soles; room for toes to move is important".

She says "anywhere from $30 - $120 is a better price range". She cautions against shoes priced around $15 as the soles aren't quite as good.

Ms McArthur recommends "Clarks for higher price point, or Kmart $30 school shoes. But you may need to buy a few pairs as they're less durable."

What should parents look for in a shoe?

  • Rubber soles, with a deep tread, to prevent slipping.
  • Shank in shoe to make the shoe more rigid.
  • Lace-ups, to help with tension on the foot - and to make tighter or looser.
  • Higher heel counter to hold foot in better.
  • Comfort, shoes shouldn't require a "break-in period". Discomfort or irritation in store is unlikely to improve with use.
  • Correct size and width fitting. A good guide is a thumb width between the end of the longest toe (not always the big toe) and the end of the shoe.

Here is a selection of shoes in each price range: 

$0- $20 range

Kmart School shoes - $8.50

Photo: Kmart

Photo: Kmart

Photo: Aldi Australia

Photo: Aldi Australia

 Photo: Aldi Australia

Photo: Aldi Australia

$21- $50 range

Photo: Kmart

Photo: Kmart

BIG W Grosby girls Mary Jane School Shoes - $39

Photo: Big W

Photo: Big W

Target Elexus Junior Mary Jane School Shoes - $35

 Photo: Target

Photo: Target

$50- $100 range

Photo: Williams

Photo: Williams

Darcy Lynx - $89.95

Photo: Williams

Photo: Williams

Harrison Indy II Youth Black - $99.96

Photo: The Athlete's Foot

Photo: The Athlete's Foot

$100 + range

ROC Larrikin wmn - $103.96

Photo: Shoes & Sox

Photo: Shoes & Sox

Ascent Kids Adela Black - $109.95

Photo: The Athlete's Foot

Photo: The Athlete's Foot

ROC Rockford - $111.96

Photo: Shoes and Sox

Photo: Shoes and Sox

Clarks Daytona - $134.95

Photo: Clarks Shoes

Photo: Clarks Shoes