The newly launched company offers Men of the Tribe a few extra inches.
Are shoe lifts the new toupees?
Shawn Michael, 33, founder of the company Shoes by Jews, thinks so. It all began when the he and a couple of friends walked into a bar several years ago.
“There we were, a group of young Jewish men, just talking and having a good time when we realized that we were all shorter than everyone else there!” said Michael, from Los Angeles during a recent phone interview. “We realized Jewish men were at a serious disadvantage, and started brainstorming ideas for a solution. One guy jokingly mentioned better shoes — shoes for Jews.”
Thus, the idea for the company was launched. The online company began selling its carefully crafted product last week: shoes for men, each with a cushioned pad that makes the wearer appear 2.3 to 3 inches taller. Manufactured in China, shoes have already been shipped to customers in New York, California and the U.K., and there are hopes that New York stores will pick up the product. The company would not release a sales-estimate.
The name of the company was subsequently tweaked to be Shoes By Jews, rather than Shoes for Jews, so as not to be exclusionary.
“Our product produces the perfect combination of ‘holy crap, is this for real?’ and ‘I need those!’” said Michael, who had an online marketing company before launching Shoes By Jews. “This technology is going to change lives.”
Change lives it will. According to statistics gathered by the University of Florida, for every inch of height over the average, an employee can expect to earn an extra $789 per year. The popular dating website OkCupid attests that men are universally prone to adding 2 inches to their online dating profiles, and 71 percent of women say the “perfect” height for a man is over 6 feet.
For Jewish men, those measurements are scaled down. According to statistics gathered by the “Jewish Encyclopedia” (now online), Jewish men are on average 1 to 3 centimeters shorter than non-Jews.
To be sure, products in the past that have attempted to give short men an extra boost. Tallmenshoes.com sells dozens of different styles that promise to give men an extra 3 to 5 inches. Still, Michael maintains that these previous products have too much clunk, and are frankly too obvious.
“If you’re wearing the extra inches, you don’t want people to know,” said Michael, who is himself a dedicated patron of the product. At 5-foot-8, the special cushion inserts give him just enough height so that his girlfriend can wear heels without shame.
“You can either throw out all your wife’s heels or buy these shoes,” he said. “Which do you think will go more smoothly?”
The shoes come in four styles: the “lady killers,” the “wedding crashers,” the “casual billionaire” and “gentleman’s choice.”
The company’s promotional video, which playfully features men stating they’ve added three inches to their (long pause) height, guarantees customers that these shoes will provide “more support than a Jewish mother.”
“Us Jews have been making quality products for centuries: pyramids, bagels, Natalie Portman, lox and cream cheese, guilt, the original nose of Jennifer Aniston, and Hollywood,” the video continues.
Still, what happens when the shoes come off?
“First impressions are most important,” said Rachael King, head of communications for the company and Michael’s girlfriend. “When meeting a potential partner, that’s when height matters most. Once you’ve spent time with them and like them as a person, the woman won’t mind if he’s a couple inches shorter.”
Plus, once the man is taking off his shoes, it’s a good sign anyways. “If he’s taking off his shoes, then she’s taking off her heels and you’re doing pretty well,” said King, laughing.
When it comes to Jewish matchmaking, height plays a weighty role. Laurel Shoshani, professional matchmaker for the online Jewish dating site Saw You At Sinai, said that height is among the top five factors that determine compatibility (other factors include religious orientation, ethnicity and occupation). A significant difference in height (mainly, if the man is shorter) can deter individuals from accepting the match.
“There does seem to be in inordinate focus on height,” said Shoshani. “I tell women it’s a mistake to take height too much into consideration — I try and stress to the members that height is only one factor, and you should view another person as a whole package.”
Still, she agreed that these shoes might be helpful for a first date. “Some men need some more confidence,” she said. “But at some point early on, he better tell her. We can’t have someone get married and then realize their partner is 3 inches shorter!”
Jewish singles are not the only ones sensitive to height difference. Despite the company name, King was careful to clarify that the product is not only for Jews.
“We’re not Shoes for Jews,” she said. “We’re Shoes by Jews. All men in need of a boost are free to partake.”
Will there be a product for women in need of a boost? King said it was a definite possibility.
“Women would love these — you can add inches but still look casual. And you don’t have to deal with the pain of heels,” she said.
For both genders, interviews are an ideal time to don the magic shoes, Michael suggested.
“If I go to an interview, I might be asked are you wearing those shoes? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not,” he said. “Men need their beauty secrets, too.”
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