August 31, 2008

Trainer befuddlement

I don’t generally lose any sleep over buying clothes. I can settle on things I like quickly and easily, and I know the shops and brands, colours and styles which I prefer, and which I think suit me. But for reasons which escape me, this process fails completely when it comes to buying trainers. I stand in front of a wall of shoes, and I just have no idea what I want or even what I like. Black, white, stripy, plain, bouncy sole, flat sole? Who knows?

Perhaps this is because choosing trainers implies not just an aesthetic choice but also a functional one. Most clothes aren’t functional except in the trivial sense of covering your body and being either thicker and warmer or thinner and cooler. But trainers are designed for running or tennis or whatever, and often not just for running in the general case, but a specific style of running, or a specific style of runner. So that makes the choice harder, I guess, than just “Do I like this colour?”.

But even if I drop the requirement that the shoes should be good for running or tennis or whatever, and just look for shoes to wear for playing in the garden, I still find it very hard to make a choice. In Chicago last year I went to the NikeTown store, since trainers were almost half price in the US when I was there. The only reason I was able to make a choice then was by reminding myself that buying shoes there and then would be 50% cheaper, and that since I was leaving the next day, there would be no second chance to go back and try again later. Even so, it was a wrench. Why are trainers so hard to buy?

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