Using Science to Make the Perfect Heel

Atlanta-based engineers Kavita and Umaesh Khaitan have debuted a new line of fashion-comfort heels that incorporate gel into the shoe itself.

Kavita Khaitan told Footwear News she was inspired to create the Ukies footwear brand after suffering for years with the same uncomfortable heels and ill-fitting gel insoles.

The Khaitans began developing their own type of gel to be temperature resistant, wear resistant and versatile enough to be used in various parts of the sole of the shoe. The product was tested at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Khaitans said the end result is a gel that can last upwards of four years with daily wear.

The entrepreneurs also used moisture-wicking microfiber fabric and a rubber-injected gripper on the leather bottom to create a shoe that is durable as well as stylish.

The Ukies line debuts with a holiday ’14 capsule collection of two styles in four colors, retailing for $189 to $199.

Here, the Khaitans talk origins — for themselves and the shoe collection.

What inspired the concept for Ukies’ gel component?
KK:
The modern woman in the workforce, really. More women are rapidly entering the workforce and need a certain look — a salon shoe look. The modern woman deserves to have an intelligent shoe if she is going to have the gadgetry. This has the modern materials: the fabric, the anti-slip grip, the cool gel compress to keep her comfortable, and the high-quality leather.

Where did you find the name Ukies?
KK:
We are from Calcutta, India, where the white tigers are from. And I feel like women should be the big cats, like where we’re from. That’s how we landed on our logo.

UK: We were coming up with names and shoe names were not trademarked, so we were having the hardest time finding the right thing. Finally, we decided to look for names with U.K. in it, because of Kavita and Umaesh — our names. Ukies was the name that worked. We didn’t want to name something specific, like gel or shoe-centric. We wanted to be able to expand into bags and belts in the future.

You’re both established engineers. How was it entering the shoe business?
UK:
We aren’t from the shoe business, so we found good advisers from the industry. We needed people who could tell us what the best lasts were and what materials were going to work best. We don’t just let the factory choose the lasts, but we control every component, from custom molds to everything. Our technology also is patented.

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