Nowadays almost all shoes are made in China. That includes well-known brands that have moved their factories to China, as well as new Chinese companies that ship to you directly from China. Sometimes when you receive a shoe you have ordered from Amazon and you open the package, you are overcome by noxious gases that burn your eyes and cause dizziness and nausea; search Google “chinese product smell” for more information on this topic. Here's a more specific search relating to shoes on Amazon. And here is another article worth reading.

I am very upset that this is happening because I love beautiful shoes and I enjoy modeling and promoting them, but I do not want to promote any product that can make people sick. Several times since 2010 I have ordered high heels to model for the website and had to throw them away. There is no way to know in advance if a product falls into this category unless there are reviews that say so. The well-known traditional companies that outsource their manufacturing to China usually exercise sufficient quality control that the products won't poison you. Lesser-known companies might exercise little or no control.

The US government apparently does not inspect imported products for toxicity. Nobody is going to protect us from the ever-increasing deterioriation in quality and safety unless we do it ourselves. If you order a shoe or any other product from Amazon and it produces fumes that make you sick, PLEASE POST A REVIEW giving it ONE STAR (there is no way to give it zero stars) and explain your reasons. Only in this way will these companies start improving their manufacturing practices. Manufacturers HATE bad reviews on Amazon.


In general, shoes that are shipped by Amazon.com itself are safe. Shoes that are sold and shipped by third parties through Amazon are usually safe. The ones to watch out for are shoes that ship directly from China. On the shoe's product page, click on "View shipping rates and policies". This might tell where it is shipping from. If not, check the delivery time; if it says "17-28 business days" then the product is almost certainly shipping from China. On the other hand if you come to a page that says "What can we help you with?", Amazon has no shipping information available. In that case, you have to actually order the shoe to find out how long shipping will take. If you do this and Amazon tells you that delivery will take 3 to 6 weeks, it's almost certainly coming from China, and you have the ability to cancel the order at that point.

In my experience, Chinese shoes have three levels of toxicity:

  1. Near-lethal. This happened to a friend once with a very good-looking shoe from Harshiono (in case the link fails, click here to see a screen shot). In this case the smell of formaldehyde, toluene, hexane, benzene, and/or other neurotoxins was so strong that it permeated the whole house: walls, floor, furniture, rugs, everything. It makes you nauseous and dizzy, burns your eyes, gives you a sore throat and a headache and possibly muscle spasms, and you become uncoordinated and disoriented. If you experience something like this upon receiving a shoe or other product from China, get it out of your house immediately: discard it and all packaging material, preferably sealed inside lots of plastic bags. The longer you leave it in your house, the more likely it will cause permanent nerve damage. Don't bother trying to send it back for a refund, it's not worth the additional exposure. Then go back Amazon, find the product page for the shoe, and write a review. Meanwhile, open all your windows and air out your house for as long as it takes, which might be days or weeks or even months.
    A friend who had a similar experience with shopping cart made in China, where the wheels spewed out toxic fumes so bad that the closet where the cart was stored was itself spewing the same fumes, even long after the cart was discarded. No amount of airing out diminished the fumes, nor could massive amounts of activated charcoal absorb them. Finally he was able to suppress them by painting the closet interior with AFM Safecoat Hard Seal, a product specifically designed to seal in toxic fumes from today's toxic imported products. In this case it took 7 coats before the fumes were fully contained. (Evidently nowadays all shopping carts have the same problem.)

  2. Moderate-to-strong unpleasant chemical odor, like mothballs or insecticide or chemical solvent or creosote or diesel fuel, etc. First get the packing material out of your house. Then put the shoes someplace away from people for a few days to air out and see if the odor goes away. If not, return them or throw them out; this was the case with a shoe from Loslandifen. The fumes were not as severe as the Harshiono fumes, but they were very unpleasant and no amount of airing out would make them stop, so I had to throw them out. On the other hand, if the toxic odor goes away after airing out, it probably came from the packing material and the shoes themselves are safe to use. Most of the shoes I've ordered that were shipped from China fall into this category; brands such as Fashionkey and Moolecole. Similarly for Chinese shoes such as Ollio that are imported by Amazon or other American companies and shipped from USA addresses.

  3. Little or no odor after unpacking (even if the packing material had a toxic smell). The only brand I have encountered so far in this category is ZriEy, but I can't be sure if all their shoes are as nontoxic as the ones I ordered. Nevertheless, I ordered six pairs from ZriEy and all of them were OK after a little airing out. See photos in gallery.

Nowadays, I'm sad to say, most of the high-heeled fashion shoes that Amazon sells are UGLY. And increasingly, the few good-looking shoes that you find there and that are reasonably priced are likely to be shipping from China. Increasingly so, in fact: every month when I look for new shoes I see more and more and more Chinese companies. So if you see a shoe that appeals to you, before you order it:

  1. Check to see if it ships from China, as I explain above. If so...

  2. Read the reviews. In the reviews section, there is a search box; use it to search for words like "smell", "odor", and "toxic". If a shoe doesn't have any reviews, you're taking a chance if you order it. Another idea is to enter a question in the Customer Questions & Answers section of the shoe's product page, like "Does this shoe ship from China?"... "How does it smell?"

  3. If, despite these precautions, you receive a toxic shoe, be sure to write a review on Amazon. On the other hand, if you receive a Chinese shoe that does not have a toxic odor, write a review that says so, so that others will know it is safe to order.

If everybody who orders shoes from Amazon writes a review stating where they were shipped from, how they smelled, and their overall quality, people will stop ordering toxic shoes and maybe the Chinese factories will stop making them. Meanwhile, I am certain that anybody who receives a product like this will never order anything else from the same company again.

Most recent update: 6 December 2016