Fitting children with shoes can be really difficult and is often unpleasant for all involved. That includes brothers, sisters and fathers hanging around nearby! This means that the responsibility for getting the correct usually lies with Mum. The trauma increases due to the fact that in South Africa, there are virtually no shops who know how to measure children’s feet and fit the correct size of shoe.
Some stores have had measuring boards available in the shoe section for some years, but using it was left to the customer. At the same time there was no guarantee that the size system on the board matched the size system of the shoes. Anyone who has bought sports shoes/trainers recently will know that they have three or four different size numbers on the tongue of the shoe. This is because the shoes are made in Asia for sale all over the world where the basic unit of measurement differs – including different centimetre units.
In an attempt to bring some order and science into the art of shoe fitting, the South African Podiatry Association (SAPA) has been working with various manufacturers and retailers to establish standards for footwear in this country. There is a committee of experts headed by a podiatrist who has done ground-breaking original research into the feet of South African women. This committee assesses lasts(the plastic shape around which a shoe is built) and footwear design, against a checklist based on this scientific research.
One retailer is Woolworths and if you buy your child’s shoes there – although you will have to fit them yourself – you will see certain styles have the SAPA approval logo on the green tag. Look out for other large retailers getting involved in 2008.