It’s the ultimate indulgence — a pair of shoes custom made to fit your feet.
Since no two feet are created equal, not even your own, consider treating yourself to shoes made specifically for your foot type to achieve an extreme comfort experience.
According to SATRA, an independent research and testing organization based in the U.K., and leading technical authority for footwear and leather, only around 1% of the global population have identical foot length on both the right and left feet, and the probability of identical measurements drops drastically when accounting for further measurements including girth or circumference, the widest part of the foot, typically across the ball of the foot.
Now, don’t confuse custom with customized when it comes footwear. While many companies can be found online touting custom shoes, that simply means detailing an existing style in the color, material and design preferences of your choice. However, they are not built to fit your individual foot specifications.
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Taking a step beyond putting your design spin on a style, is having a shoe designed around your specific foot characteristics. This starts by modifying an existing last, a wooden or plastic form representing the foot over which the footwear is shaped, to match the nuances of your foot. For those with bigger purse strings, a one-of-a-kind last can be created from your foot measurements. These personalized looks are the work of shoe craftsman and a require a one-on-one meeting.
According to Perry Ercolino, who operates a custom shoe business in Doylestown, Pa., the opening price point for a pair of custom shoes is $5,000. This includes a consultation, last creation, fit trial, finished shoe and custom shoe trees. In addition to creating a perfectly fitting pair of shoes, Ercolino discusses the wearing options of a shoe to make sure customers satisfy their fit as well as fashion needs.
For those who can’t make a personal visit to a craftsman like Ercolino, there are online options. Girotti offers handmade styles for men and women to meet your design specifications by selecting the style, size, material and outsole. To find the best fit, there’s a size guide with tips on how to measure your foot, and even add your initials at the back of the shoe or a personal inscription on the heel or insole.
For men, there’s also UnDandy, a collection made in Portugal that allows for a choice of style, material, color, laces, stitching and sole type. The website takes you through the entire shoemaking process for an inside look. To help guide you through the process, an online live chat is also available.
While a pair of custom shoes may seem like an indulgence, there are times when they become necessary due to medical issues such as diabetes, club feet or amputations. Here, a visit to a podiatrist is required to evaluate the patient’s footwear needs. In some cases, podiatrists can create a cast of the patient’s foot, which is sent to an orthotics and prosthetics facility such as Hersco Ortho Labs that manufacture footwear and orthotic devices following detailed prescriptions provided by doctors.
Most doctors, however, will opt to refer a patient to custom shoe specialists such as New York-based Eneslow Shoes & Orthotics, a comfort shoe store equipped with an on-site shoe workshop staffed by a team of skilled craftsman.
There are also facilities that focus strictly on hand-made custom and orthopedic footwear around the country that include Davis Foot Comfort Center in San Francisco, that can fabricate a wide range of custom footwear from dress shoes to hiking boots.
Both are staffed by teams that include pedorthists, individuals trained in the management and treatment of conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities that can modify or create footwear.
Before deciding to indulge in a pair of custom shoes, even for a health-related issue, consider the cost. While shoes that address many medical conditions may be covered by health insurance plans, including Medicare, it is best to check pricing.
For those with unique footwear needs, it’s important to note that not style requirements can be met due. However, a skilled shoe craftsman can work with you to design a fashionable as well as functional style.