I first realized that in HK shops don’t fit shoes properly for kids when Isabelle started walking. That was back in May 2009. In London the emphasis on proper shoes for new walkers is huge and it seemed like a huge discrepancy not to be stressing the same thing in HK. I was lucky enough to get back to London around the same time so had Isabelle correctly fitted at START RITE and bought her first shoes there but then I came across the SAME issue here again with Sebastien only last month. For goodness sakes what was everyone else wearing?!
So I started to dig around and here is what I found:
In HK you can buys kids shoes from
(a) Local shops – these are scattered all over town (you know the ones that look like a treasure trove or candy store with all the shoes vacuum wrapped in cling film). They tend to be more about sparkle and colour than podiatry. Personally for early walkers and toddlers I really don’t recommend them.
(b) Market stalls – these are pretty much the same as the local shops but cheaper.
(c) Western shops – then there are a handful of western brands including Jacadi, Ralph Lauren, Bonpoint and a few more. They all have lovely lovely shoes but sadly with the exception of Bonpoint that stock StartRite, none of them look at width. The only other stockist for Start Rite in HK is BUMPS TO BABES and whilst they do measure width sadly the selection is SOOOOO limited it is hard to get what you want and if you do go there make sure you ask for the 'Start Rite Expert'. As a brand they pride themselves in their experts selling their shoes and regularly train their staff. There are a very particular set of things they need to check once the shoe is on. I'm not convinced their HK 'experts' are...well experts. It's probably due to the fact that it's not their own store (but I will be calling Bumps to Babes this week to find out about the training). Having said that for some years now it has been the best option. At the very least you can get measured there and then order online direct from StartRite for more choice.....HOWEVER.......
THE GOOD NEWS HOWEVER is that US brand STRIDE RITE (they are to Americans what Start Rite is to the Brits) has finally launched in HK. Based in Causeway Bay they have more than a similar name in common with StartRite. They also are true believers in correctly fitted shoes for toddlers taking those first few steps. Supported by Dr Tanya Altmann, a UCLA-trained pediatrician, Stride Rite believe that many adults with foot problems can point to their childhood footwear as the culprit – plus they have been around for 90yrs !! So they know a thing or two about shoes.
STRIDE RITE: Shop 216A Windsor House, Causeway Bay
Now if you find yourself in my shoes (excuse the pun) and can’t find a proper shoe store you can always measure the kids yourself and order online. Both Start Rite and Stride Rite provide a chart on their website that enables you to do this.
I also found the guide on how shoes should fit really useful from Start Rite http://www.startriteshoes.com/fitting/foot-health:
• we believe that it's really important to measure a child's feet accurately before buying them every pair of shoes. That's because ill-fitting shoes can have a serious impact on your child's foot health for years to come
• like jelly in a mould, your baby’s feet can take on whatever shape they're forced into, so shoe shapes should always match the form of the foot. In toddlers this is wide at the toe and narrow at the heel, a shape that will change as the foot develops
• the width and depth of a correctly fitted Start-rite shoe ensures excess pressure is never applied to your baby’s delicate foot
• Start-rite shoes have built-in growing room to give children’s toes plenty of room to develop
• there is no such thing as an ’average’ foot, so every child should be individually fitted with shoes
• to ensure the best possible fit for children and young people of all ages, Start-rite makes shoes in whole and half sizes, and in up to 6 width fittings (C, D, E, F, G, H), more than any other brand
• using the Start-rite foot gauge, they will measure both feet for length and width/girth to give them a guide to the size that your child will need. They will then advise on the style most suited to your child's foot
• when checking the fit of the shoe, the fitter will get your child to stand up so that they can make sure that the shoe is of the correct length, width and girth. They will also check that the shoe is not rubbing on the anklebone and that the fastening is comfortable and secure. They will then watch the child walk, to make sure that the shoes do not slip off and on
• we recommend that children have a professional fit check every six to eight weeks as toddlers, and every three to four months once they are older
• you can now also measure and fit Start-rite shoes yourself at home. We provide the tools and resources you need to measure your child's feet and then choose the right pair online. And if when you receive the shoes they do not fit correctly then we offer free returns. So it really couldn't be easier to purchase Start-rite fitted girls and boys shoes
• things to look for when shopping for shoes
o Shoes that come in whole and half sizes, and in up to six width fittings, to ensure the best fit for your child
o Footwear which is styled to resemble the natural shape of the foot, so for a toddler this should be wide at the toe and narrow at the heel
o Effective fasteners across the instep so that your child doesn't curl their toes to keep them on
o Shoes made from, and lined with, breathable materials such as leather to allow the feet to breathe
o Soles that are lightweight, flexible and non-slip to make walking easier for young children
And the foot facts section from Stride Rite was great too http://www.striderite.com.hk/footfact.php:
The Rite Development
• Bones are not fully formed in a child’s foot until age 5. While the foot is still developing the cartilage can be easily influenced by ill fitting footware.
• The 52 bones in the human feet make up one quarter of al the bones in the human body
• Babies’ feet do not have arches. Arches do not start to develop until 2yrs old.
• Babies feet perspire two times more than adults; so always look for breathable materials such as leather and mesh or anti-bacterial linings
• The heel is the one bone in the foot that helps to balance baby’s entire body. Wow !
• Similar to your body, your feet are still growing into your late teen years. SO your tenth pair of shoes is just as important as your very first
The Rite Fit
• You should never hand me down shoes from one child to another. Why? Baby shoes, especially shoes made of leather form to a child’s foot once they are worn for a while. A person’s gait is much like their fingerprint; it is unique to them. If a child wears hand-me-down shoes, his or her walking pattern may be affected since his or her feet are now trying to form to the gait of another child
• Shoes that do not fit properly in childhood can contribute to poor foot development which can lead to bone, back and muscle problems later in life. To ensure a perfect fit, children’s feet should be measured every 2-3 months until at least the age of 2 because their feet grow so quickly.