The aglet, as we all know, is the little plasticky bit designed to crimp the end of a shoelace together. It has two purposes: firstly, to prevent the lace fraying at the end and, secondly, to ease the threading of the lace through the eyelets at the front of a shoe. Imagine trying to fit a compression sock onto a foot with no bones, to thread an unwilling worm back into its burrow, or to poke a cold wet noodle through a single hole in a colander. This my friends is a shoelace without an aglet.

Current technologies favour heat-shrinking a small plastic tube onto the end of a lace to form this essential part. Previously we had a far superior small metal clamp to fulfil the role of the aglet. Sturdier, more durable, and even aesthetically more pleasing, metal aglets have been cast aside for a product that is cheap, nasty, prone to splitting, tearing, or even abandoning its post altogether. For shame, shoelace manufacturers.

That such a disregard for care would be found on a child’s sneaker! Shoelaces are troubling enough for children; the rapid unravelling of a lace due to the absence of an aglet means that any game of chase or hide-and-seek becomes a farce, as classmates step on trailing threads bringing a runner up startlingly short, potentially leading to grievous injury.

Rapidly this lace becomes a festive tassel, festooned with pieces of bark and leaves, skipping across the ground as the child goes about their play. How is such a child to be respected by their peers? Society does not cope kindly with those who are unravelling, and such a blatant display of slovenliness could never be viewed with anything but the most heinous taunts.

Now the child is teased, mocked and physically attacked. She is unable to retie her lace, cutting it would only exacerbate the problem and discarding her shoes would have her ejected from the playground completely. When such a tiny item can have such a profound impact on one’s day, what can we expect of our children when they are faced with bigger challenges? It is these seemingly insignificant issues that are leading us inexorably towards the inevitable demise of our society.

If we cannot keep such a tiny thing in check—if we cannot manufacture a simple static item to perform to expectations for more than two days —then what are we doing? We all need to be paying far more attention to detail and quality.

Dear Reader, I urge you to lift your standards. Do not stand for shoddy products because they are cheap or in this season’s colours. Refuse to purchase cheap goods made by underpaid workers in shocking conditions. Let us not stand for it! Select your purchases carefully, favouring those who proffer high standards over inferior construction.

May your aglets stay firm and your laces unbroken,


City shoes and mountain boots, Alice Manfield, c. 1900-1930. Glass lantern slide. Source: State Library of Victoria (H2000.92/10). Condition of aglets unknown.

City shoes and mountain boots, Alice Manfield, c. 1900-1930. Glass lantern slide. Source: State Library of Victoria (H2000.92/10). Condition of aglets unknown.

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