“Manolo Blahnik” and “cheap” are mutually exclusive terms, right? Even on eBay, it’s difficult to get a Manolo bargain. New, they go for £400 a pair, which is probably more than I’ve spent on footwear over the past decade.
Before I go any further I’d like to emphasise that I’m not a shoe freak. Frankly, I wince when cretinous women slobber and drool over Choos and Louboutins. Such a waste of money, energy and dribble. Read this newspaper piece about celebrities’ “best days ever” and you’ll see what I mean.
However one day seven years ago, something splendid happened.
I was wandering around the high street during my lunch hour. I was in a bad mood: at the time, I was working a wretched job for a pitiful pay cheque. I wandered into the local Oxfam thrift shop…
…And there they were in front of me: sitting on top of their box in a glass display cabinet, bathed in the dusty yellow cabinet light, all dainty and pointy-toed. They were shiny and new: the soft black leather gleamed; the soles were barely scratched. Stamped on the insoles were the magic words Manolo Blahnik. Best of all, they were my size: 6.5. The timing was perfect: they had been left that morning. The price? Sixty pounds. I snapped them up; well, wouldn’t you?
I have worn them ever since and kept them in good shape, using sponge shoe trees, careful storage and regular replacement of heels and soles.
Sadly, I fear that these magic shoes (above) are now ready for retirement. The soft black leather has stretched, one of the pointy toes is bent, the insoles are warped and much of the leather on the heels has been chipped away. Or I may put them on eBay. Seven years is a good run, though – no pun intended.
Now, how often do you walk into Oxfam and find a pair of new Manolos on the shelf? It was me, but it could have been you. I was seized with the delightful idea that a woman close to my work, with size 6.5 feet, was happy to donate her unworn designer goods to local charity shops. After that I went into Oxfam regularly, in the hope that she would have another clearout. Sadly no more shoes appeared. That was a good Oxfam though: I still have a turquoise Ben de Lisi two-piece that I found there.
It just goes to show: when you get into the habit of hunting for bargains, anything is possible. What is the best bargain that you have found in a thrift shop?