I’ve always thought that the Dunlop Volley worked as well on the dance floor as they did in the bedroom. It didn’t matter if you were seeing out a couple of sets of grass court tennis, busting a funk at an Italian disco party or laying roofing iron over open beams 30 foot in the air the Volley was the true all round shoe.
It’s not just me who has held this view. The experts have tended to agree. Roof contractors across the country wear the Volley. These are people who understand the importance of safety and comfort in a shoe. Evonne Goolagong wore a pair of Volleys to her famous victory at Wimbledon in 1971. ‘Edo’ Edmondson did the same at the 1976 Australian Open.
With a record like that the Volley commands respect so the recent drop in the quality of this iconic product saddens me.
Initially, I was quite happy with the new pair of Volleys I bought from Target. A new pair of shoes marks the beginning of a new adventure. But it didn’t take long to realise that something wasn’t right. The soles were wearing much quicker than usual. It was noticeable within a week or so. They continued to deteriorate and in less than six weeks the soles had worn through on both feet.
Volleys have been good to me. From Luang Prabang to Antigua and old London town, I have walked many a street in them. I was quick to forgive and make excuses. Convinced that I’d just bought a pair from a faulty batch I went to a different store and got myself another pair. But within six weeks the same thing had happened. Once again I had worn holes in both soles. I know the advertising tagline of the Volley is ‘Well worn since 1939” but a six-week life span is taking that meaning to the extreme.
Some may point to my ungainly gait as the problem. I do wear my shoes hard but the Volley has been my shoe of choice for a long time and I have never experienced this problem in the past. Up until the two purchases outlined above I got about six months wear from a pair. Even then it was the fabric of top of the shoe that would go. My big toe would wear its way through but with the sole still intact they still functioned.
It seems that Dunlop has modified the compound they use in the Volley soles. I understand that rubber is in short supply but the quality of the sole (and its rubber) has been a hallmark of the Volley brand. Without its sole the Volley has no soul.
Having taken their name from the inventor of the pneumatic tyre I would have thought Dunlop would know their rubber. Who knows, maybe they do and they just think they can get away with passing off a lower quality product. The Volley is still quite cheap, retailing in fine establishments such as K-mart and Target for around $30. But the drop the quality makes the Volley far less appealing.
I noted with interested that they were the official casual shoe of the 2012 Australian Olympic Team. I am proud of the performance of all of our athletes in London but with the publicity around the Australian teams failure to meet its medal targets I can’t help but ask: would our medal tally have been higher had our athletes been provided with more robust footwear?
I know there are other shoes out there. The KT-26, the runner of choice of the middle-aged, is a fine shoe. It just doesn’t have the elegance or utility of the Volley. However, given the drastic drop in quality I cannot, in good conscious, continue to champion the Volley cause.
Dunlop can’t expect the Volley to be the everyman shoe unless ordinary punters want to wear them. As far as I can tell people value quality and I know I won’t buy a shoe that only lasts six weeks.