So this has happened to me twice now.
A couple of weeks ago whilst perusing Portglenone's charity shops I found a pair of unworn Hotter lace-up leather shoes costing a mere £3. And have been wearing them ever since. According to the lady in the shop, they were part of a house clearance which usually means belonging to a dead person. I'm not superstitious about such things - I was delighted with my bargain. Last night I gave them a jolly good polishing so as to be smart for today's trip to Belfast. All went well - the shoes were very comfortable and lasted the entire day during which I walked at least 13000 steps. But when I got home I noticed that the soles on both shoes had partially crumbled away.
The first time I experienced the crumbling sole phenomenon was a few years ago. Once again it was Hotter, a walking boot that Hannah used to wear and that had been lying in the wardrobe unworn for several years. I was planning a day out to Belfast and, the night before gave them a jolly good polishing etc. etc. On that occasion, I didn't even make it off the train before the soles began to disintegrate. I actually had to buy another pair of shoes that day.
So I hit the research button on the internet. Apparently, crumbling soles are actually a thing.
Molded polyurethane foam soles can be amazingly comfortable but, unlike leather soles, they have a limited shelf life. According to footwear industry consultant Phillip Nutt, the shelf life of a direct-injected polyurethane sole should be in the range of four to five years. He says the material tends to "crumble into a sticky mess" when stored for "periods longer than four years or so."
Disuse apparently increases the risk that polyurethane soles will degrade--and that probably increases the indignation of consumers whose barely worn shoes disintegrate. If you wear your shoes every day and walk miles in them, you expect the soles to show wear. You don't expect shoes to be destroyed by months or years of sitting unworn in their box in your closet. (Patricia McLaughlin)
So, I've learned something today and am only mildly disappointed in my three quid shoes. After all, the number of times I've worn them since purchase they've only worked out at a cost per wear of less than 50 pence and this time I even managed to get home from Belfast before they fell to pieces.