Only 1% of Women’s Shoe Brands Make Shoes for over 25% of Women!

Dear Shoe Lady,
I am very certain that I am not the only woman in the world that has a size 10 1/2 shoe. Why do manufacturers not make 10 1/2 shoes?  Tens are too small and 11 are like boats on my feet.   How can I get a hold of any shoe manufacture to suggest that they start making them? Also my heel is very narrow and I can never fit in any shoe.Ros_Hommerson_Ruby_Black_Kid-200x150

Yes I can buy one of those heal add-ons but then my foot moves forward and shortens the shoe.   Then my toes are very long and there is never enough space in the toe area for them.  I have a nightmare trying to find shoes that fit. I love when I can wear sandals but I can’t wear them in the winter.  I don’t know exactly how writing this letter can help my situation but I found you on the Internet and I thought I would give you a try. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Christine Bennett


Dear Christine –
Approximately 25% of all women in the USA wear shoes OVER size 10, yet fewer than 1% of all brands selling shoes in the USA actually make shoes over size 10.
They say that capitalism is a great way to get products to meet market demand.  But that does NOT hold true in the women’s shoe industry!  I have no idea why there is such a huge mismatch between production and market need, but there is.  The shoe industry folks who make these decisions still think it is 1952 and the average women’s shoe size is 6.
Here are some brands that make women’s shoe size 10.5: Naturalizer, Bella Vita, Ros Hommerson, Aerosoles-Outrider-250x Stuart Weitzman.  Find the brands that make the shoes that fit you and let them know you love them!
Best to you and your toes,
The Shoe Lady

Finding, Making Large Size Women’s Shoes, Size 12-15

Abby & Dad

Abby & Dad.  Abby, at 17, needs shoes sized 14 or 15.

Dear Shoe Lady,

My daughter Abby (in the attached picture with me) who is 17 YO, 6’1″, and wears a woman’s 14 or 15 depending on the maker has struggled finding shoes since she was 12.  We are glad to have medical confirmation that the growth plates in her feet are fused so she won’t be growing more, but that’s not to say that pregnancy or life may not increase her foot size more. All that to say that she is intimately acquainted with the difficulties of finding shoes in her size (that weren’t made for cross dressers).  We are of course aware of Barefoot Tess, Long Tall Sally, and other outlets for bigger shoes for women, but more often than not the shoes we order from their still don’t fit correctly.  She is also blessed with very long toes.

We are considering buying a 3D laser cutter/engraver that would allow her to cut leather, cloth, rubber, cork, and wood among other materials, so she could design, cut, assemble and sell custom shoes for girls and women with size 12+ feet.  (Statistically it appears that this is about 1.2% of the US women’s shoe market with shoes in Abby’s size be less than 0.1%.

We’d like to get your sense of the market and whether this really meets a need.  We would be making an investment of about $8000 to get going.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you,

Jon DeM.


Dear Dad and Abby-

I have a LOT of thoughts on this!!!  First.  Shoe manufacturers are not very bright.  Second, they depend solely on shoe retailers who are even less bright to make their decisions about the real market size for shoes.  I have written extensively about the size issue.  If the AVERAGE size for women’s shoes is now size 9, then 50% of all women wear size 9 or above.  The likelihood that only 1.2% of American women wear size 12+ shoes is slim to none.  That’s only 3 sizes above 9.  Go 3 sizes below 9 and you are at size 6.  Yet you will hardly find a store that carries shoes above size 10.  And fewer than 1% of all the shoe manufacturers selling into the USA make shoes above size 10, and then, only to size 11.  If you are defining the shoe market as what is manufactured, you are correct with your numbers.  But the need for these larger sizes is substantial and unmet.

Making shoes is an incredibly complicated business.  Not sure where you live but, if you are serious, I suggest Abby first take a course in shoe manufacturing.  Look into the course offerings carefully.  Here is a list of places. You also need to understand:

  1. the steps to make a shoe
  2. the 28 different “fit points” on a shoe
  3. how to measure and control for those fit points
  4. how to use different materials and manufacturing processes
  5. how to size for shoes above women’s size 12 (honest!  Manufacturers neither know nor care, which is one reason why Abby’s shoes don’t always fit.)

You are not talking about a 3D laser printer.  I believe you are talking about a 3D printer.  These are available and designers are just beginning to do interesting footwear with them.  But the resulting shoes are a very clearly 3D printed.  They are not (yet) very versatile in shoe looks.  I would suggest a course first.

When I founded and ran, we had up to 1500 styles in size 12.  I chased down and had made shoes up to size 15 so I know how to do it, know how complicated it is and know that the market is small.  But the market is small not because the women aren’t there but rather because they have given up looking for shoes that fit.  You are only likely to find them on line.  And, then, only from the largest companies that can aggregate customers.  I just checked Zappos’ listing for size 15 M women’s shoes.  They sell only three brands:  several Birkenstock sandals, one style of Bloch, and one style of Arcopedico.  Barefoot Tess was acquired two years ago by Long Tall Sally.  They mostly rely on individual vendors to know how to make a size 15 shoe…  very risky.  But they are beginning to make their own brand.  They, today, offer 76 styles (excluding slippers and inserts) and 28 of these are “house branded”.

Abby, you are the woman of the future.  At the rate of growth of women’s feet, you are likely to be on the large side for your lifetime, but 20 years ago size 7 was the average size.  When Title XIX passed in the USA, women’s feet really started growing.  In 20 more years, maybe the average size will be size 11.  And MAYBE by then the shoe industry will start paying attention to the numbers.

In the meantime, you’ll need to live with the challenge of shoe shopping all your life.  I suggest you invest in a course where you can learn how shoes are made and what is important about how they fit.  Even if you were a size 9, having long toes means that you should be looking for a certain style of shoes and avoiding others.  There is much to learn!  If you want to go forward and manufacture shoes for this badly under served market, make the decision after you take the shoemaking course and after you’ve done some “due diligence” talking to people in the shoe industry… and The Shoe Lady!

Best to you both,
The Shoe Lady




I HATE My Big Size 12 Feet! Teen Wants to Shoe Shop Like Friends

Shoe Lady!

I HATE my big feet!!! All my friends can find shoes so easily and get such cute shoes while I am suck wearing ugly sneaker since no but PAYLESS selling in my size!!!! What are some shoes I can get in my size that look similar to what my friends wear? (wish uggs came in size 12)

OH MY!  This is most unfortunate!

I am sorry you are in such distress.  But I am confused as to why you think there are so few choices for your size 12 feet!
I’d like to hear more from you about where you get your information?
It is quite true that you will not find size 12 shoes in regular “brick and mortar” shoe stores, at least you won’t find more than about two or three styles.  But until the shoe industry starts paying attention to the data and realize how many of you there are…. I estimate that between 4 – 5 million women in the USA wear size 12 shoes… then you must learn to find those fashion styles by shopping on line.
By the way, Uggs does make size 12’s.  But they may not make them in all the “girlie” styles you want.  I suggest you write to them directly and protest.  They are owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Deckers Outdoor Corporation
495-A South Fairview Ave
Goleta, CA 93117
Main Telephone: 805.967.7611
As Sheryl Sandberg says, “lean in”.  Let them hear your voice!
Now as for other size 12 choices, today I find 1353 styles in size 12M (medium width) at this website:
Not sure what your taste is in shoe styles, but I’m adding an example of a red suede low heel knee high boot in size 12M, on sale for $96 from Aerosoles.  It is in the “Teen Collection”.
Again, Asha, you can find some great styles and not just at Payless.  But you have to shop smarter than your friends.  You have to shop on line.  You can still enjoy going store shopping and mall shopping with them… but you’ll need to stick to socks.  At least until places like Deckers wake up and discover how many of you there are!
Best to you,
The Shoe Lady

High Instep Makes it Hard to Find Shoes that Fit

Shoe Lady-

What a difficult time it is for shopping for shoes.  🙁  Shoes need to be made with higher insteps.  Any suggestions?  I wear a 11W.



 Dear Sharon-
I understand that you believe the cause of your problem is that shoes do not accommodate higher insteps.  But I’m not sure of what the resulting problem is?  Do the shoes not support your arches?  Do the shoes not provide enough space on the top of your foot, the vamp?
If it is a high arch, take this “wet pavement” test: and follow the tips.
If it is not enough space on the top of your foot, you will need to look for specific types of shoe styles that do not cut into the skin on your foot but still hold your foot securely.  Lace ups are a great choice.  And since menswear styles are such a hot trend right now, you will have lots of choices.  Shoes with microfiber or elastic uppers are also a good choice.
Tell me more about your problem and I’ll try to be more specific.
The Shoe Lady
Thanks for the reply.  To clarify, the top of my foot, the vamp, doesn’t have enough room,  and I also have wide feet.   I am finding due to not having enough room on top of the foot, the shoes are not fitting despite the wide foot.

I am so sympathetic.  I share your pain.  It was years before I realized that I have what I affectionately refer to as a “muscular” foot, ie. thick.  And I have a fairly high arch.  You must accommodate that width.  Think of the shoe as a container holding the volume of your foot.  Be rigorous about turning away from those fashionable styles that will bind into the top of your foot.  As mentioned, if you want to wear ballet flats and keep them on, they should have a mary jane strap.  Otherwise, the wider fit you need will invariably be too wide for your heel and the shoes will slip off.

Keep in mind the 28 fit points.  Most people just think about length, but that is only one fit point.  You need to shoe shop with length, width and front of shoe volume in mind.  Remembering 3 out of 28 is not hard.  And even if it limits your options, your feet will be happy and that will bring you comfort!
The Shoe Lady

Where Are All the Stylish Shoes in Size 12?








Alas …. too bad you can’t walk a day in the ShoeLady’s shoes!  Up and down the aisles with hundreds of vendors at huge shoe show conventions asking…. “do you have styles in size 12”?   Years ago it was hard enough to find attractive shoes in larger sizes.  And, if you remember, will not carry a brand unless it goes, AT LEAST to size 12!
I thought it would get easier as more shoe companies came on line.  I do believe always had the best “eye” for stylish shoes for “women who leave a larger footprint”.  But the companies DSC used to buy from, Vis a vie, Pancaldi, Danny Black, Valentina,  the list goes on and on….  They are out of business.  The shoe industry is tough.  And when the recession hit in 2008 companies that had been in business for almost 100 years did not make it through.  Many of these companies closed even earlier as the Euro outgrew the Dollar and made Italian and Spanish made shoes more expensive than USA customers were willing to pay.  I fondly remember the days of ordering small batches of a variety of different styles and colors in unique fabrications from companies that were willing to make size 12’s and 13’s… and knew how to do it.
The industry has changed.  I think does a great job offering styles from the smaller and larger companies that are willing to make these sizes.  Maybe when the economy improves, there will be more choices again.  In the meantime, the ShoeLady continues to pace the aisles of the shoe shows…. searching.
The Shoe Lady
Your prompt response, is appreciated, and Yes, I can understand, walking a day in “The Shoe Lady’s Shoe”s, being , that I am, a business women who, was hit “Hard ” by the recession (regardless of the industry).
As I mentioned earlier, I meant, NO-DISRESPECT to You!    The average shoes size for young  girls not even in high school is a size 10 (USA) , I have a list of over 30,000 young girls , and women who wear size 12-14, and whom, want stylish shoes so, i know, THERE IS A BIG MARKET FOR LARGER SIZE SHOES!!!
Guess, I’ll have to find a manufacture, and design my own shoes for females whom leave a larger foot print.
My Best,
I too know there is a HUGE market.  And does have some very stylish shoes.  They just carry a LOT more styles (4000 compared to about 200) than they used to.  And since most of those styles tend to be boring, black and comfort oriented, the fashionable, fun stuff can seem to get lost.

I don’t suggest trying your own manufacturing unless you own the factory.  I’ve seen too many fail at this… it is very tricky.  But mainly, the shoe business has changed.  In 1997 could order shoes made in batches of 6 to 12 pair.  Now…. 4,000 pair (mixed sizes, same color) is more typical.  So if you want to offer stylish women’s shoes in a few different styles and colors…. you have to order, at minimum, several hundred pair per style/color.  And the fewer you order, the higher the price…by a lot.
If you do decide to make your own, let me know.  I’m sure would be delighted to carry them!
The Shoe Lady
Shoe Lady-
Thank you, Very Much, for your insight !.
 I too know, of the “Horrible” Drama’s , that could happen when one does Not, have total control of  producing 
your product or at least, an “Honest” business partner who, may own a manufacturing plant.
I wish You, all that is “Positive” in your business, and if, I do start the manufacturing of larger size shoes
You’ll be one of the first person’s I contact.
My Best,
Thank you Wanda!



What Size Shoes Should I Order?


Dear Shoe Lady,

What size should I order? My width is 4.6 and length is 11.2?



Dear B.H.,

An excellent, practical question.  I assume that you have read how to measure your feet correctly and understand that if you make a little slip and don’t keep the pencil straight up and down, and tight to the edge of your foot, you could end up with a very wrong size.
You should be shopping for a women’s 14M, 14 medium.  A size 13 is only 1/5th of an inch shorter, 11 inches.  If a shoe has an open toe, like a sandal, you may find that 13’s work for you too.  After you have asked such a nice simple question, I am loathe to make it more complicated.  But much depends on whether you have extra short or extra long toes.  A shoe’s size is really determined by the length between the heel and the ball of the foot.  So if your toes are disproportionately long, you’ll be buying a shoe that doesn’t quite hit in the right places around the ball of your foot.   Ah.  TMI.  Too much information.
Take a look at these styles.  Size 14 shoes that look like women’s shoes are infernally hard to find.  There are 154 styles today from 13 different brands.
Walk in peace,
The Shoe Lady

She HATES Her Size 12 Feet – Can’t Find Shoes

Dear Shoe Lady,


I’m a size 12 and I HATE my feet. Everytime I see a shoe that I LOVE, they obviously don’t carry my size. So where can I purchase cute shoes online? Also what would be my size when it came to wanting to wear heels?



Dear Chevonne,

I’m not asking you to love your feet.  But you can at least be kind to them.  If you are going to be angry, then be angry at the folks who don’t make shoes in your size.  It is not the fault of your feet that you can’t find size 12 shoes!  Not that I’m not sympathetic.  As a size 11.5 myself, I wear size 12’s a lot.  If you think size 12’s are hard to find, try looking for an 11.5.
But let’s get right to your question.  You can purchase size 12’s on line here:  You can probably find them other places too.  But does not annoy you by carrying all those styles that stop at size 10.  The size 12’s sell out fast, but the site is filled with, as of today, 1.705 choices.  Since it is the very beginning of Fall, new styles are arriving all the time.
But I have to ask.  What makes you think you are a size 12?   Just because a size 11 was too small?   You didn’t mention the width.  If you get the wrong width, the shoes will look strange on your feet, and they will be uncomfortable.  Please read about how to measure your feet.  If your feet are 10.8 inches long, then you ARE a size 12 (USA).  But if they are less than half an inch shorter or longer then you are a size 11 or a size 13.  Learn how to measure your feet accurately here:
Please do not make the all-to-common mistake of buying a shoe that is too long for you just because you need more space to squeeze in a wide foot!  Look for a smaller size and a wider width.  If you are a size 12 medium, then the bottom of your foot, at the widest part, should be about 4.1 inches across.  If your foot is only a third of an inch narrower or wider, you could need a size 12 narrow or size 12 wide instead of a medium.  Read about shoe widths here:
Developing your personal style will make you a fashion leader.  Decide what shape and style of shoe looks best on your feet.  What styles go best with your lifestyle.  You mentioned high heels.  If they are properly sized, you would wear a size 12 in heels too.  But for heels, knowing your correct size and width is more important.  There is less, shall we say, “wiggle room” if you get the measurements wrong.  You may decide that a flat mary jane style in a bright color with striped opaque tights makes the perfect fashion statement for you.  Or you may prefer a stiletto ankle boot with a platform sole and blue jeans.

Whatever your style, treat your feet well and they will make you happy.

Best to you,
The Shoe Lady

Size 12 Competition for Women’s Shoes Is Fierce, Includes Competing With Cross Dressers

I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack with my then 16 year old 6’0” daughter who wears a size 12 shoe. Nordstrom has the best selection around for that size. So there I am looking through the racks trying to find something at which my teenager won’t turn up her nose and I feel the presence of another woman next to me.

It can be a pretty aggressive experience hunting down a cute pair of size 12’s! So I turn and look her in the eye, as if to say, ” back off this is my rack!!” Well to my surprise and shock, this woman is actually a man; a transvestite wearing a white mini skirt and tasteful blouse while searching for a strappy sandal! I had to laugh because it’s hard enough to find size 12’s without having to include the transsexual crowd! My teenager was of course mortified and won’t step back into that store. So thank goodness we found you!


Size 13 Teen Makes Holy Bargain for New Brown Boots

I have 4 pair of shoes in my trunk. 2 flat mules (black patent and woven black) and 2 flip flops (metallic and leather)
When I was a freshman in high school back in 1984 I was already a size 13M.  Like most women, there was not a shoe that I didn’t like.  Unfortunately my size was very hard if not impossible to find.  When we did find a store that carried shoes in my size the selection was usually only one of two shoes in black, blue or brown. (Nothing like, where were you 20 years ago???)   It was constantly disappointing to go new shoe shopping.

My freshman year, my parents really wanted to send me to Catholic school.  I had my own ideas and was really set on going to the local public school because I had been in parochial schools since I was 8.  This was to be my first chance at freedom in a public school.

My parents took me shoe shopping for the upcoming school year.  We came into Boston to the only shoe store at the time that carried size 13.  When we were there, I found these beautiful brown, soft leather boots that I absolutely fell in love with.  The problem was that they were over $100 and my parents did not want to spend that kind of money (in 1984 that was even more than today) But, they relented if I would change my mind and go to Catholic school.  I thought, “I’ll agree to go, wear them the first day, then go back on my side of the deal and continue to go to the public school I was already enrolled in. Since I will have worn the boots, there would be no way my parents could return worn boots.

My plan backfired.  My parents sent me to Catholic school in my new boots and 4 years later I was still there wearing them.  Is there nothing a girl won’t do for her favorite pair of shoes or boots?

 M F


When Shoes Are Hard To Find – We Keep Them A Long Time

A few weeks ago my daughter and her friend were playing dress-up when I heard the inevitable clunk, clunk, clonk on the stairs, and was greeted by the sight of two ten-year-olds wearing an amazing assortment of dresses, scarves, jewelry, makeup and high heels. My eyes were drawn to my lovely pale pink pumps, and the memories came rushing back.  These were the beautiful shoes I bought years ago (20?) when my only options were black pumps.  A size 10 by high school, I am used to being disappointed by the latest styles.  Yes, they are adorable/cool/hot – but they won’t be in my size.  These pink shoes are the most amazing color – soft and warm and sexy.  I remember wearing them in 1989 in Tokyo with a beige silk suit and a rose quartz necklace as I ate sashimi while seated on a totomi mat in a private dining room. I remember feeling like a princess…

But in 1992 I was back in the states and faced with a more challenging situation – finding shoes to wear on my wedding day.  My feet were now barely a 10, and the white shoes I sought were elusive. Satin would not be right, and I wanted comfort.  I looked up until the day before the wedding and then reached for my pink shoes.  They were perfect.  Comfortable.  Something old! And so well made that they still looked new.  If anyone noticed they were pink instead of white, they were having too much fun to mention it.

Fourteen years and two children later, I now wear a size 12, and many years have passed since I added my precious shoes to the dress-up closet. I laughed with the girls, and then asked to try on the shoes myself.  I can squeeze into them for a moment, if I hold my breath, just as I can into my wedding dress! But unlike the dress, no amount of dieting will make them fit again.  While my wedding dress hangs, lonely, in my closet, my shoes have a second life.  My daughter loves them too. So far, she takes for granted that the shoe she wants will fit her.  I know, however, how special it is to find that certain shoe, in my size, that makes my heart beat quickly.  And I am so glad that my pink shoes are still looking fabulous!