Looking for shoes can be a lot like a quest for romance: The right one can be hard to find.
From too-skinny heels to ill-fitting straps and insoles with poor padding, we’ve all been there — and some of us have taken up residence buying one unfaithful pair after another.
And even as footwear technologies evolve, it often seems we’re still years away finding the best solutions for the many comfort and fit challenges that finding the best footwear can bring.
So what’s a suffering fool to do?
Luckily, new companies are emerging with innovative solutions to some of your most frightening footwear nightmares.
Here, we highlight three of them.
San Diego, Calif.
Principals: Lucy Beard, founder and CEO; Nigel Beard, chief technology officer
Professional Backgrounds: Lucy is a former mathematician and actuary who grew to love customers more than numbers during her years working as an executive in Silicon Valley. She experienced an entrepreneurial epiphany one day while she was shoe shopping and realized she could customize her coffee order, but when it came to buying shoes, she was stuck with the same 10 size options.
Nigel has a Ph.D. in microfluidics and over 30 patents. His varied accomplishments include working to land robots on Mars and genotyping King Tut.
The Mission: Affordable, sustainably crafted custom-fit shoes that do not compromise on style.
Their Solution: Feetz uses SizeMe technology and patented FlexKnit materials to design shoes it says are both comfortable and long-lasting. The company — which has partnered with DSW for a shop-in-shop concept — spent several years honing its 3-D printing technology that creates precise measurements of customers’ feet using three photos of each foot taken with a mobile phone. Users snap their pictures, choose a style and color, and custom-made shoes are delivered in two weeks. The company maps over 5,000 data points to create the shoes.
Feetz are made in the USA with recycled and recyclable materials and are manufactured free of harmful chemicals or processes. When customers are done with the shoes — after roughly 500 miles of wear — they can return them, and Feetz handles the recycling.
Principals: Albert Pizzinini, co-founder; Hans Paul Pizzinini, co-founder; Stefano Zelcher, co-founder
Professional Backgrounds: International management; economics and management of innovation technology.
The Problem: Comfort: No standard size shoe fits your foot exactly. Size: Shoes bought online don’t always fit properly. Price value: Luxury shoes are expensive.
Their Solution: Iovado’s founders have employed biometric 3-D scanning technology and are using a cost transparency business model to create a customized luxury moccasin for men and women. With Iovado’s mobile application, users take 10 pictures of their feet, and a 3-D model is created in 10 minutes. From that model — based on millions of points of a person’s foot — the technology’s algorithm creates the specific shape of the user’s Iovado shoes, which are then handcrafted in Italy.
Redwood City, Calif.
Founded: 2012; Soft Launch: June 2017
Principals: Vinny and Moraima DiMare, co-founders
Professional Backgrounds: Vinny worked as advertising executive for 20 years in New York. Moraima was raised in Silicon Valley and has worked in real estate, technology and private equity.
The Problem: Lack of sufficient padding, especially around the ball of the foot, can lead to extreme pain for many high-heel-loving women. High heels often have up to 2 millimeters of foam, which flattens out after a few wears. Women then have to buy additional gel inserts, bandages and other insole solutions that don’t always work. Other issues include: price, quality and usability (women often will buy a pair of high heels for a major event and are unable to wear them again because they’re simply too uncomfortable).
Their Solution: Customizable high-heeled sandals with interchangeable straps and heel widths. For pain, they have combined two highly advanced materials. The comfort insole is made of Poron, which retains 98 percent of its original thickness. Underneath that, embedded at the balls of the foot area, is Sorbothane, which retains 94.7 percent of impact. As for price, Attrenti offers a shoe base with three different removable heel widths for $299.95 in black, nude or pewter. Straps are sold separately. The American-made shoes are intended to go from casual to professional and fashionable.