The irony of shopping for shoes in Xiamen

Updated: 23 Sep 2010
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 Size 8 shoes & above are hard to find in Xiamen,

if any, the choices are limited


Shoes, the answer to height challenged girls.  You are a short little thing; the answer is a gravity defying pair of heels.  Xiamen streets are your stamping ground.  The silver bling on the heel, the large bow and the thin ankle strap all give a sense of elegance and height to your appearance.  I know why China, in particular the town of Jinjiang is the largest manufacturer of shoes in the world.  It is not because it is good business; it is not because of the opportunities of export trade.  It is because most Chinese girls are not that tall.


The girl in front of me can only be 50kg if that.  I am trying not to stare at the large suitcase being lugged down the road on tottering red stilettos. It is though Grandma’s simple black cloth slippers have been consigned to history.  Practical it is not, however our red stiltoe girl is not alone.  High heels are a mark of urban chic.


Now the question is, “where can I get a pair”.  Well expatriots, people of non-Chinese descent if your shoe size is more than European 38 or American 7 you are out of luck.  Those shoes that you saw in the shop window your size is exported only.  Xiamen shoe shops will not have your size in store.  It’s very frustrating however the answer is in the online shopping malls.  Or if you are like me, you purchase your Made in China shoes back home.  It is sort like coals to Newcastle however in reverse.  Those expatriots who can fit into the locally sold shoe sizes are not to emal me, with “yes, I can buy shoes” or “It’s not difficult for me”  I do not want to hear this as it is me who feels like the elephant with her size eight feet.  Of course overseas Chinese or the dainty Frenchwomen are in shoe shopping heaven.


Men and their shoes are dull, uninteresting with little use of colour or imagination. Sports shoes are the choice of the male student.  We do not seem to have the basketball Jordan style in Xiamen rather the more traditional sports shoe.  Business men, young men in offices wear black loafers.  Tie up shoes are seldom seen.  The male shoe is, in fact a dull black with little to recommend it.  It is the flower studded ballerina shoe that focuses the eye on neatly trimmed ankle and its owner.


SOURCE: Kiwi Jane for WOX

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