Are DSW shoes defective? If you’re wondering about the quality of shoes sold at DSW, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick answer to address your concern:

  • Not all DSW shoes are defective.
  • DSW offers a mix of overstock, past-season items, and sometimes specific lower-priced lines.
  • Quality can vary, but major brand contracts often ensure good quality.

DSW, or Designer Shoe Warehouse, is known for offering a wide array of mainstream brand shoes at significantly cheaper prices than many competitors. The name ‘warehouse’ is key here: the store operates much like any other warehouse model. They purchase bulk excess products at lower prices. This bulk buying from major brands such as Nike and Reebok helps keep prices down, making designer shoes accessible to a larger audience.

However, the lower prices and bulk purchasing model do raise questions about the quality of the footwear. Sometimes, shoes are made specifically for DSW, which can result in different standards of quality compared to the exact same brands sold elsewhere. These aspects have led consumers to discuss potential quality concerns on platforms like Reddit and Quora, although these discussions should not be solely relied upon for definitive judgments.

I’m Eric Neuner, founder of NuShoe Inc., and I’ve been in the shoe quality inspection and refurbishment business since 1994. I’ve managed thousands of footwear projects and can assure you that the quality of DSW shoes varies but is generally reliable, thanks to their agreements with major brands.

Quick insights on DSW shoe quality - are dsw shoes defective infographic pillar-3-steps

Why Are DSW Shoes So Cheap?

DSW is known for offering a wide variety of shoes at prices that seem too good to be true. But how do they manage to keep their prices so low? Let’s break it down.

Bulk Purchases

DSW operates on a warehouse model. This means they purchase shoes in large quantities directly from manufacturers. By buying in bulk, they get significant discounts, which they pass on to customers. This is similar to how stores like Costco and Sam’s Club operate. The more they buy, the cheaper each unit becomes.

Lower Prices

The company also aims to sell items at prices lower than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). On their receipts, you’ll often see the price you paid, the MSRP (or Comp. Value), and the difference, showing how much you’ve saved. This pricing strategy makes it clear that DSW is committed to offering deals that are hard to resist.

Seasonal Inventory

DSW is a seasonal store, meaning they rotate their inventory to match the current season. When a season ends, the remaining stock often goes on clearance. This helps keep their inventory fresh and prices low. For example, winter boots might be heavily discounted in the spring to make room for new summer styles.

Direct Brand Contracts

One of the key reasons DSW can offer such low prices is their direct contracts with major brands like Nike and Reebok. Instead of buying from a middleman, DSW purchases directly from these brands, cutting out extra costs. This direct relationship allows them to negotiate better prices and offer those savings to customers.

shoe warehouse - are dsw shoes defective

Made-for-Discount Lines

Some shoes sold at DSW are specifically made for discount stores. These shoes might be designed with more cost-effective materials or simpler manufacturing processes to keep prices low. According to a Reddit user, “They’ll say ‘We are selling this for $20, but Nike is selling it for $40.’ Well, Nike is not selling that particular product at all. What that really means is that Nike told DSW that if they were to sell that particular product, they would sell it for $40.”

Customer Insights

Customers have shared their thoughts on forums like Quora and Reddit. One Quora user noted that DSW is a seasonal store, which helps keep prices low through clearance sales. Another Reddit user mentioned that some shoes are made specifically for DSW, which allows for even lower pricing.

In the last year alone, this pricing strategy has saved customers $800 million, making DSW a popular choice for budget-conscious shoppers.

Next, we’ll dive into whether these low prices come at a cost to quality. Are DSW shoes defective? Let’s find out.

Are DSW Shoes Defective?

Common Defects Reported

When people ask, “are DSW shoes defective?”, it’s important to understand that defects can vary. According to customer reviews and forums like Quora and Reddit, common defects include:

  • Shoe Hardware Defects: Broken buckles or faulty fastenings.
  • Mold Issues: Shoes showing signs of mold, which require specialized cleaning.
  • Material Issues: Cracks, holes, or separation where the sole meets the upper part of the shoe.
  • Over-Glowing and Loose Stitching: Excess glue visible on the shoe’s surface or loose threads that compromise the shoe’s integrity.

These defects can occur in any shoe, but some customers have reported them more frequently with DSW purchases.

How to Identify Defective Shoes

If you’re shopping at DSW, here’s how to spot potential defects:

  1. Inspect the Material: Look for cracks, holes, or any unevenness in color. Feel the surface for bumps or irregularities.
  2. Check the Stitching: Loose or frayed stitching can be a sign of poor quality.
  3. Examine the Hardware: Test buckles, laces, and other fastenings to ensure they work properly.
  4. Look for Glue: Excess glue can be a red flag. Check the areas where the sole meets the upper part of the shoe.
  5. Smell for Mold: A musty smell can indicate mold, especially in shoes that have been stored for a long time.

Quality Concerns

One major concern is whether DSW shoes are of the same quality as those sold in department stores. According to some Reddit discussions, certain shoes are made specifically for DSW to be sold at a lower price. This might mean different materials or manufacturing processes are used, which can affect quality.

Made-for-Discount Lines

Some customers have pointed out that DSW carries made-for-discount lines. These are shoe models created specifically to be sold at a lower price point, which might mean they don’t meet the same quality standards as their higher-priced counterparts sold elsewhere.

Nike Exit

A significant development is Nike’s exit from DSW. This decision may impact the variety and possibly the quality of athletic shoes available at DSW. The company believes it can fill the gap with other athletic brands, but only time will tell if these replacements will meet customer expectations.

Inspection Tips and Quality Control

To ensure you’re getting a good pair, always inspect the shoes before purchase. Look for the common defects listed above and test the shoes for comfort and fit.

By following these tips, you can better navigate the potential quality concerns when shopping at DSW. Up next, we’ll discuss DSW’s return policies to see how they handle defective merchandise.

DSW Return Policies

Returning Defective Shoes

If you’ve bought a pair of shoes from DSW and found them to be defective, don’t worry—DSW has a return policy that can help.

90-Day Return Window: DSW offers a 90-day return window for unworn and defective merchandise. This means you have three months from the date of purchase to return your shoes.

Original Store of Purchase: It’s best to return the shoes to the store where you bought them. This ensures a smoother process.

Refund Process: For a refund, bring your defective shoes back to the store. You’ll need your receipt or proof of purchase. Once the defect is confirmed, DSW will issue a refund to your original payment method.

Exchange Process: If you prefer an exchange, DSW allows you to swap your defective pair for a new one. Again, bring your receipt and the defective shoes to the store. You can choose a different pair of the same value or pay the difference if the new shoes are more expensive.

Customer Experiences with Returns

Customer satisfaction with DSW’s return process varies. Some customers find it straightforward, while others face challenges.

Review Ratings: On platforms like Quora and Reddit, reviews are mixed. Some praise DSW for its easy return process, while others complain about poor communication and delays.

Common Issues: Common complaints include difficulty reaching customer service and delays in processing refunds. Some customers also report issues with getting a defect confirmed.

By understanding the return policies and knowing what to expect, you can better navigate any issues with defective shoes from DSW. Up next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about DSW shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions about DSW Shoes

Can you return damaged shoes to DSW?

Yes, you can return damaged shoes to DSW. Their return policy allows for refunds or exchanges on defective merchandise. However, the shoes must be unworn and undamaged, apart from the defect in question.

Refund Process:
1. Bring the shoes and your receipt to the original store of purchase.
2. Explain the defect to the store associate.
3. If the defect is confirmed, you can choose a refund or an exchange.

Exchange Process:
1. Follow the same steps as the refund process.
2. Instead of a refund, select a new pair of shoes of equal value.

90-Day Window: Ensure you make your return within 90 days of the purchase date.

For more details, check out DSW’s return policy page.

How are DSW shoes so cheap?

DSW shoes are affordable due to several factors:

Bulk Purchases: DSW buys shoes in large quantities, which reduces the cost per item.

Lower Prices: They sell these shoes below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

Seasonal Inventory: DSW frequently places out-of-season shoes on clearance, keeping prices low and inventory moving.

Direct Contracts: They have direct agreements with major brands, bypassing middlemen and saving costs.

These strategies allow DSW to offer competitive prices. For more insights, check out this Quora discussion.

Is DSW reliable?

DSW is generally considered a reliable place to shop, but experiences can vary.

Customer Reviews: Reviews on platforms like Quora and Reddit are mixed. Some customers praise the affordability and variety, while others mention issues with customer service and return processes.

Average Rating: DSW holds an average rating that reflects both positive and negative experiences.

Popular for Shopping: Despite some complaints, DSW remains a popular destination for shoe shopping due to its wide selection and low prices.

Understanding these aspects can help you decide if DSW meets your shopping needs.


At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we understand the importance of quality control when it comes to your footwear. Whether you’re dealing with common defects or simply want to ensure your shoes are in top condition, we’re here to help.

Quality Control

Our team is dedicated to ensuring that every pair of shoes meets the highest standards. We meticulously inspect and correct any defects, so you can trust that your footwear will be restored to its best condition.

Fast Turnaround

We know that you need your shoes back as quickly as possible. That’s why we offer a fast turnaround time without compromising on quality. Our efficient processes ensure that your shoes are returned to you in top condition, minimizing any disruption to your daily life.

Affordable Prices

High-quality service doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. We offer our expert shoe repairs at competitive rates, ensuring that you get the best value for your money.

Located in San Diego

If you’re in San Diego, NuShoe Inspect & Correct is your go-to destination for reliable shoe repairs. Our local presence allows us to offer personalized service and quick turnaround times.

For more information on how we can help with your shoe defects, visit our reliable shoe quality control inspection services page.

Trust NuShoe Inspect & Correct to keep your steps comfortable and your shoes in prime condition.