Tell us about your background, how did you get into footwear? 

I am a podiatrist by profession and we are all trained to consider footwear as part of our clinical assessment.  It was when I began work in a specialist diabetic unit in Sheffield in 1985 that I really became interested in footwear and this was because I was then dealing with the extreme effect that inadequately fitting shoes can have on foot  health and the dramatic impact in terms of health costs and human misery that can result.  At a later stage, I became involved in the development of forensic  podiatry in the UK and much of my work in this area has been about footwear in the context of human identification.

Well, it does when it comes to shoes! At Footwear Today we find when we are sent shoes to road test that a size 10 from one manufacturer can be size nine or size 11 from another manufacturer. Half sizes aren’t available in continental shoes, which only exacerbates the problem. We pitched some questions to Laura West, Secretary of the Society of Shoe Fitters, to find out her views:

Q: On what is the shoe sizing system in this country based?

A: The English size scale was based on barleycorns – but even barleycorns can be different sizes! Both English and Continental sizing are predominantly used in the UK, and because of the number of imports having overtaken British manufacture, continental sizes are now the most commonly used size scale.  

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