The Art of Designing Comfortable Shoes
When I was at university studying Footwear Design, I would often be labelled as being ‘commercial’, which, when you’re nineteen and trying to carve a niche in a competitive world, isn’t always a good thing. It is somewhat ironic then, that it is precisely this commerciality and, dare I say it, comfort for which I have become known. Sure, I can do high fashion and spent several years doing just that when I was a freelance designer, but it’s just not me.
One of the things we hear time and again when people try on our shoes is how comfortable they are. It’s kind of sad that we’ve come to associate heels with discomfort, because a well-made pair of shoes can be beautiful and comfy- trust me. I wanted to tell you a bit about what we look at when designing both our wedding shoes and our occasion shoes, to ensure a super comfortable experience.
This is where it all starts- for a well fitting pair of shoes you need a good last. This is the mould over which the shoe is formed (the old wooden ones can often be seen in vintage shops nowadays, or reclaimed into stylish objets d’arts), and dictates the shape of the shoe, the heel height and width. We develop all our own lasts to ensure every style has a good width fitting. We also make sure that our heels are a wearable height, and that there’s a good selection of different heel heights across the collection.
We usually make two or even three prototype samples before a shoe goes into production. Each sample is tried on for fit testing, and adjustments are made until we get the perfect fit. This might be as minor as taking a couple of millimetres off the top line of the shoe to avoid rubbing, or as much as changing the fabric or colour completely. This is when we try different options, and also good if you happen to be sample size, (I suspect our senior designer Katie (shoe size 37) puts colours into work purely so she gets to keep them)
A perfectly fitting shoe needs the most beautiful materials to complete the comfort. We don’t use synthetic linings, which can be very unforgiving (not to mention sweaty!). Most of our shoes are made from soft leather and suede, with some in newer fabrics such as glitter and velvet, and all are lined with leather. This leather lining allows your foot to breath, and also shapes to your individual foot shape the more you wear them- we guarantee you’ll feel the difference to a cheaper synthetic after a few hours.
And that’s it- three simple but super important factors to consider when designing comfortable shoes!
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