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Adding a splash of colour

An increasing number of footwear manufacturers are offering a bespoke service.

by Stuart Morgan

Image © 578foot |

Customers have been able to have their shoes tailor-made in personalised styles for hundreds of years. This, however, has been the preserve of the wealthy, as such bespoke footwear can carry a sizeable price tag.

By contrast, the option for shoppers to customise the appearance of their footwear (perhaps not with a tailor-made fit) at a more generally acceptable cost has started to be made available from a limited number of manufacturers in recent years. With advancements in technology, more companies are taking steps to offer this bespoke service – both online and in-store – a few examples of which we will briefly examine here.

Image © adidas

adidas shoes can be made in the buyer’s choice of colours

Since 1999, Nike's ‘NIKEiD’ website has enabled shoppers to create Nike sports shoes that match their own taste by selecting different colours, materials, shoe technologies, playing surface applications and width fittings. This service has since been expanded and is now available in a large number of stores around the world.

Other footwear producers – including Converse, Reebok and Vans – also offer a bespoke design service. An adidas application called ‘mi adidas’ allows consumers to customise the colour schemes of midsoles, outsoles, torsion bars, heel cages, laces, tongue labels and heel straps, as well as choosing from 19 colours for the company’s famous three stripes.

Not for just the big players

Image © SportLocker

Using the NIKEiD studio application

Japan-based Kibera, which has nine shops in Tokyo and Yokohama specialising in women’s shoes, has also entered the field of customised footwear, costing about 10,000 Yen ($84) per pair. This company’s process begins in-store, when a member of staff uses a 3-D scanning system to measure the length, width and shape of a customer’s feet. After this initial assessment, she can choose from 24 combinations of colours and materials on 20 different designs. Once an order has been placed, the shoes are made and then delivered free of charge to the customer within three weeks. Interestingly, the company also offers shoes for people with different sized feet.

In Sydney, Australia, Shoes of Prey offers tailored design over the internet. After choosing from 12 different styles, including high heels, flats, sandals and boots, a customer can model shoes on a 3-D image by choosing the colour and pattern, in addition to the height and width. Some 170 colours and materials are available for selection, including soft leather, snakeskin, suede and silk. Purchasers can also add ribbons, straps or other decoration. The finished footwear is usually delivered in about five weeks.

Obviously, offering customers the opportunity to design bespoke footwear – and send in an order for just one pair – will not be a service every shoemaker can provide at a price that will still attract the target market. Nevertheless, technology and adaptable manufacturing techniques are making the customisation of shoes and boots a real possibility for a growing number of producers.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 6 of the April 2015 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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