Self-confessed shoe addict has collection of 500 pairs worth over £30,000

A teacher obsessed with quirky shoes has amassed a huge collection worth tens of thousands of pounds, made up of pairs she refers to as ‘art pieces’.

Kari Walbert, 44, has dedicated an entire room to store her collection after first falling in love with elaborate shoes nearly ten years ago.

The pairs are all unconventional and intricately designed, with many decorated with sequins, furs, glitter and feathers.

Some of her shoes depict famous pop-culture characters such as Beauty and the Beast, Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Hello Kitty.

Kari says: ‘My motto is “life is too short to wear boring shoes.”

‘I feel like most of these shoes are art and express who I am. I view my shoes as a sort of collection of art pieces.

‘I like the challenge of putting together an outfit around the shoes I’ve picked out for the day. The quirkier, the better.’

Kari says, while she’s always had a soft spot for fun footwear, her love for shoes really took hold in 2012 when she bought a unique pair with gold unicorn heels.

She said: ‘I’ve always been a fan of shoes. When I was in high school it was Dr Marten’s, Converse and Vans.

‘As I’ve got older, it has turned to heels and boots. Over the years I just developed a tendency to gravitate toward the quirkier pairs.

‘I have over 500 pairs of shoes in the range of $40-$600 [£30-£440] a pair, so have maybe spent over $40,000 [£30,000] on the collection.’

Among Kari’s shoes are a range of brands from Dr. Martens, Converse, and Jeffrey Campbell to Betsey Johnson and Fluevog to Manolo Blahnik, Dior, and Louboutin.

She said: ‘I have everything from sneakers, flip-flops, sandals, boots, platforms, stilettos, wedges and more. The majority of my quirkier shoes are from Irregular Choice, a UK brand.

‘I like to keep all my shoes in their boxes – most of the boxes are really beautiful, and they are much easier to stack and store that way.’

Kari often gets stopped in the street by strangers asking about her footwear, and she’s earned the name ‘the teacher with the shoes’.

She said: ‘I like shoes that people are going to notice and comment on. I’m a teacher, and I’m known by most students as “the teacher with the shoes”.

‘They even make a point to stop by my classroom to see what shoes I’m wearing for the day.’

These days, Kari says she’s trying to control her shoe habit more, confessing she hasn’t much of a hold over her obsession.

‘I usually buy when there are new releases, so two to three pairs per month,’ she said. ‘If I see a pair I fancy, I usually just buy them on the spot. I have zero self-control when it comes to shoes.

She added: ‘I’ve been trying to make an effort to slow down as I am running out of room to store them, as you would imagine.’

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