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World's largest women's shoe department opens in London

By Denisa Morariu for CNN
Around 5,000 shoes are on display in Selfridges' new Shoe Galleries, spread over 35,000 square meters.
Around 5,000 shoes are on display in Selfridges' new Shoe Galleries, spread over 35,000 square meters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Shoe Galleries at Selfridges is the biggest in the world both in size and number of shoes
  • More than 5,000 pairs are displayed over 35,000 square meters
  • UK footwear market reached a record high of just over £7 billion ($11 billion) in 2008

London, England (CNN) -- "I want to set up a bed and just move in all day," says Katy, one of the first visitors to what has been billed as the largest women's shoe department in the world.

The Shoe Galleries opened at London department store Selfridges Thursday, setting a new record for the biggest surface dedicated to footwear, and for the largest number of shoes found in one place, according to the store.

More than 5,000 different pairs of shoes are displayed across 35,000 square meters, while more than 100,000 others are kept in stock.

"We are more than doubling the size of the women's shoes space, so we expect sales that would be in line with that fact," Selfridges' PR manager Bruno Barba told CNN.

According to a 2009 report from market research company Key Note, the value of the footwear market in Britain reached a record high of just over £7 billion ($11 billion) in 2008.

Whatever woman we are that day, we have a pair of shoes that goes with it.
--Alannah Weston, Selfridges
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Sales were expected to trip up in 2009 as consumers cut back on luxury items due to the global financial crisis, before recovering again in 2010. So far the prediction seems to be in step with current trends.

In August, the Confederation of British Industry listed the footwear industry as one of the sectors showing the strongest growth.

With so many styles on offer, Selfridges is covering most corners of the market for women's footwear. Although the emphasis for the upmarket department store is on high-end fashion for women with a passion for shoes.

"Shoes are very emotional. Because they alter the way that we stand, the way we walk, they change our body language. Whatever woman we are that day, we have a pair of shoes that goes with it," says Alannah Weston, creative director of the Shoe Galleries.

While women are the core market for Selfridges' lavish shoe display, Weston says men are taking more of an interest in what is on the their feet.

Men "are now starting to take fashion shoes more seriously," Weston told CNN. "So they still love the classic or a wonderful sneaker, but they are starting to look at more designer styles too."

 
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