Whenever I’d tell people that my (now ex) boyfriend was a shoe designer, the first thing they’s usually say was, “That’s so cool! Do you get a lot of free shoes?!” I spent 6-years dating and living with a man who was a designer for a large footwear brand. Although dating someone who works in the fashion industry is definitely a dream for many women (constant access to shoes?! Um, hello!), there are lots of things that people probably don’t realize about what it’s like to date a designer or creative professional. For those of you who are curious, here’s the good, the great and not so great aspects of dating a shoe designer:
1. You do get a lot of free shoes….if you’re a sample size. Whenever shoes are designed, a sample is made. At the end of the season, unless a sample is going to be used for the following season, more often than not it gets given away or disposed of. The catch? The sample size in North America is usually between a 6 or a 7, which is pretty small. I have tiny feet so this actually worked out nicely for me and I did receive a lot of free shoes, however if you’re larger than a size 6 you’re often out of luck.
2. The shoes you don’t get to keep are really, really amazing. Although my ex did hook me up with lots of amazing footwear, it wasn’t like a giant shoe-free-for-all (as I think some people suspected). Designers who work for High Street brands will often buy hundreds of dollars worth of high-end designer shoes to cut up and deconstruct so that they can figure out how it’s made and add the look to their own line. Watching someone cut open and gut a pair of Christian Louboutin pumps is a pain no shoe lover should have to endure.
3. Everyone is always asking you if your boyfriend can get them free shoes. This is really annoying – especially when the person doesn’t know you very well in the first place (which was almost always the case in these kinds of situations.) My canned response became: “Are you a size six? No? Oh, that’s too bad!”
4. Your partner works a lot. Working in the fashion industry is very busy and stressful. Being a designer often involves a lot of long hours and late nights. Often while you’re lying on the couch getting ready to settle in to the latest episode of True Blood, your partner will be sitting next you with their laptop…working.
5. They travel a lot: Shoes are made in places like China, and being a designer means you actually have to travel to these places to make sure everything is getting made properly. In one year, my ex went to China 5 times, often staying there for anywhere between 2-4 weeks. The frequent flyer miles are awesome and it’s likely they’ll bring back some pretty sweet gifts (like that Miu Miu wallet that hasn’t even arrived yet in North America), but having your partner away so much can get lonely and cause a strain on the relationship.
6. Sometimes they’ll take you with them! Even though they’re working the whole time, getting to go on work trips to places like LA and NYC with your significant other is pretty cool.
7. They’ll never say no when it comes to shoes. If you’re trying to reel in your spending when it comes to footwear, dating a designer isn’t going to help. If you find a pair of amazing shoes, they’ll usually tell you “Go for it!” This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Dating a shoe designer is like dating anyone with a demanding job that requires extra hours and travel. If you’re looking for someone who is always going to be home at 5pm and the only trips they’ll take will be vacations with you, dating someone in the fashion industry probably isn’t a good fit. However, for the most part I really enjoyed it. I got to spend my time with someone who was also ultra creative, motivated and shared a lot of common interests with me. Oh and shoes. Did I mention shoes?