Made in China. If you are a consumer anywhere in the world, you have seen this label on thousands of different products. For many consumers, this label can mean that the product they buy is going to have a lower price than a regional item of the same kind.
For others, the name implies sweat shops, cheap labor, shoddy workmanship and greedy retailers. Most of us have something in our homes or in our wardrobes made in China.
The country of China produces just about any type of merchandise you can think of; including dance shoes for all genres of the performing arts. One of those performing arts is ballet.
The most important accessory for a professional ballet dancer is her pointe shoes. Because pointe shoes wear out quickly, cheaper models are incredibly tempting to try.
Pointe Shoes Are Expensive For A Reason
The skills of a professional pointe shoe cobbler cost money. It is typically a generational skill that takes decades of experience to perfect. The best pointe shoes come from manufacturers that use cobblers who take pride in their work.
Lasts or forms are expensive as well as labor costs. Pointe shoes made the traditional way using hand pasting and turning require critical attention to detail. Successful manufacturers understand what a dancer needs and wants from her shoes in the way of support, ease of break in, beautiful lines and comfort.
How Cheap Is Too Cheap When It Comes To Pointe Shoe Construction?
Few manufacturers are going to share where they source their materials. Many use satin from one country, thread from another, leather from another and so on. If a pair of dance shoes only cost ten dollars when comparable products cost ten times as much, you need to worry about the quality of materials used.
The Pros And Cons Of Low-Cost Pointe Shoes From China
- Good for decorating and arts/ crafts projects.
- An option for collectors or curiosity seekers.
- One generic shape isn’t practical for all the foot types that dancers have.
- Cheap prices are passed on to the consumer due to cheap materials used and low-cost labor.
- A dancer will never really save money; the shoes will wear out quickly.
- The shoes will not have the right support.
- Aesthetics can be a nightmare with off-brand pointe shoes.
Professional Shoe Choices Encompass A Small Range Of Brands
Professional theatres spend thousands and thousands of dollars each year supplying shoes for their corp members. However, you never see a top-notch academy skimping on expensive brands or buying cheaper no-name versions from China.
It is usually the opposite. They make sure their principal dancers, soloists and corp members have the very best quality shoes to dance in. This includes custom-made shoes for a perfect fit. Shoes are chosen from a few elite brands that are known the world over for quality, support, aesthetics and custom design features.
A professional ballerina can become very selective about her cobbler. Impeccable fit is number one for an art as physical as pointe work. Having shoes designed specifically for her unique foot shape by the same manufacturer guarantees consistency of fit and function.
The Odds Of A Low-Cost Mass-Produced Shoe Gaining Popularity With Dancers
This article is certainly not intended to bash authentic Chinese pointe shoe brands that are produced by reputable companies well-known for quality dance apparel.
The inexpensive models that are found online through global marketplaces and sold without a brand name are buyer beware products. They are not affiliated with professional schools, ballet training academies or dance theaters.
Cheap, discounted pointe shoes of questionable origins are never recommended by the ballet elite. They may be tried by students on a budget, but never a choice for a professional.
With the advent of the Internet and global competition for business, China has tried to fill the dance wear market with low-cost ballet shoe alternatives. However, professional ballet training demands high standards of construction when it comes to pointe shoe design. Quality goods costs money.
If top-quality pointe shoes only last a dancer one performance, a cheaply made alternative will never take its place.
L. Perry is a published author and confessed balletomane that enjoys exploring the world of dance, costumes and ballet shoes through the art of writing.