Jimmy Choo vs. M5. Louboutin vs. AMG. Catwalk cars.

Not long ago, I went along with a friend to visit a veritable modern temple, a museum of famous shoe designers. Ok, I must admit it was actually a Dubai mall during the sales season, but you can imagine I got literally dragged around from store to store as she hunted for a (read “several”) pair of “designer” shoes.

If you still don’t get it, think BMW offering a 40% to 70% discount for the M3 or M5, during a certain time of the year. Or AMG. Or whatever your favorite high-end brand or model is. Come to think of it, why don’t “we” have this kind of super sales season for cars? It couldn’t possibly hurt... could it?

Anyway, on this occasion I was able to notice significant similarities between the fashion industry, more precisely “designer” shoes, and the automotive one, the “luxury” segment to be exact, dealing with tuned cars, the kind that go above 100 grand and reach 60mph in less than 5 seconds.

Each and every pair of shoes created by the industry’s big-names was simply breathtaking. There was absolutely no way you could leave the place without at least one favorite. With great colors and fantastic design, very carefully thought-out and created with outstanding attention to detail, all of them were of exquisite quality... and with a price to match. Well, at least at first sight.

Heaven turns quickly into hell as soon as you start trying them on. Although sizes are supposed to be universal among footwear, when you’re talking “designer” shoes things change, and fast. At first, you realize you’re two or three sizes larger than you previously had thought. Then, even larger sizes won’t fit as you would have expected from a pair of brand-name, expensive and carefully crafted shoes.

Trust me when I say you wouldn’t want to see a woman as desperate as my friend, nearly bursting into tears as the adorable, beautiful and reasonably priced (discounts, remember?) shoes refused to get along comfortably with her feet.

After finding the right size, which varied from model to model, every pair proved to be either too tight in one spot or too loose in another, too wide or too narrow, and so on. The bottom line: impossible to wear without making sacrifices that lead to blisters, calluses and other problems caused when you don’t buy yourself a pair of shoes that are both comfy and correctly designed from an anatomic point of view.

Just as giants like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik were, one by one, falling victim to these issues, I realized these shoes, so coveted and considered the most beautiful in the whole world, are very much alike the most wanted and praised automobiles.

When was the last time you saw a comfortable BMW M3 or M5? Or maybe an SLS AMG? I hesitate to even mention a car that’s... both “killer” and practical. And, haha, comfortable? There is no such thing!

Truth is, my friend was searching for something that’s impossible to find from top brands, who sell shoes created to look great and... that’s about it. Just like today’s supercars, “stiff steel frames” built to look good in photos and to accommodate humongous engines. Comfort? Safety? Practicality? Who cares? Nobody dares to ask for such things from these creations of the extreme, even though everybody would, in fact, prefer things to be that way.

Who would say no to the perfect car? One with fantastic mileage, top performance and a great looker too? How could anyone not want to buy that?

Unfortunately, it seems that auto manufacturers are taking all the wrong cues from fashion designers. They have learned how to impress us with their honeyed speech and to show shiny things in our faces, while knowingly sacrificing comfort for the sake of a supposed luxury, favoring avant-gardist design instead of practicality.

In the end, just like catwalk shoes, cars “worth” several hundred look extremely cool and are craved by many, but the whole picture reveals tons of issues related to reliability and maintenance costs.

Not to mention that personally I haven’t found yet an expensive car that offers a level of comfort that matches the price, probably because this is an aspect that is considered, as in the case of shoes, a non-essential part of the sales process. It’s like clients should just be glad they purchased a brand product and get on with it, simply forgetting about the rest.

I find it unacceptable that in 2011, after endless talk about the oil crisis, the financial crisis and a plethora of other kinds of crises, and after everyone condones (or should I say trumpets) reducing fuel consumption and energy efficient solutions, monster cars equipped with downright shameless engines still get launched on the market. I guess their target is comprised of sheiks who are running out of things to spend their petrodollars on or Chinese who made it big on selling gadgets manufactured by mercilessly exploited children.

I find it pathetic that big names continue to take pride in “keeping the tradition alive”, meaning that 6L engine cars continue to be designed and manufactures, while tuning houses congratulate themselves on “squeezing” an additional 5HP from the 550 yielded by the submarine engine installed by default. In the meantime, nobody, and I mean nobody, seems interested in true progress and real performance, not just smoke blown in the customers’ faces.

Luxury automobiles have already become sad symbols of long past times, when waste was something of the ordinary. It’s time AMG (and not only) comes with a 2L, 500HP engine (possibly assisted by an electric one) instead of today’s pieces of crap that reduce fuel consumption by 10%, and even that only in ideal testing lab conditions.

It’s time major manufacturers and tuning houses come up with innovative ideas, with drastic fuel consumption reduction solutions, seeing as it is already way too expensive.

It’s time for better, more reliable and smarter cars, which need less fuel and offer more in return. A lot more than what’s being offered now.

I’m not an expert in women’s shoes, but I tend to believe bright minds would be useful in this field as well, focusing on more than pretty pictures, creating instead shoes that can be worn by women without bursting into tears in the evening. And how about a little respect? For the people, for those who pay with their hard earned cash, for the clients...

More respect would be helpful for everyone, I think. Women would get to have nicer and better shoes (and probably less hazardous for their health), and men would drive gorgeous cars that have excellent mileage and don’t require monthly repair shop visits. In the end, those who create and build these things might get something new for themselves as well: our respect.

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