Company Update #1 – June 2021

Milad MafiBy Milad MafiJune 7, 2021

Hello everyone,

Maybe some of you can remember my survey about the idea of mass-producing bespoke shoes, which I posted more than a year ago on this subreddit. 

Back then, I had just finished some first prototypes and wanted to find out if more people are interested in Goodyear welted shoes made on fully custom-designed last. Although some companies offered MTO shoes with different shoe sizes for left and right, I wasn’t satisfied with the achievable degree of fit customization. More than 700 members of this subreddit participated in the survey and provided very valuable feedback and insights. I also received a ton of very supportive and motivating messages from survey participants. Some weeks after I posted the survey, I and my co-founder quit our jobs and started to work on this full time. Your feedback was not only a great motivation but also helped us to successfully apply for a scientific entrepreneurship grant. All in all, this community was the spark that helped us to start the ball rolling. Thank you so much! 

Since then I’m in direct touch with a bunch of participants from the survey. However, I thought it might be a good idea to post an update regarding our progress and plans.

Building the technology

Until the beginning of this year, we spent most of the time refining the first prototypes of the core technology. This included the smartphone footscan app, the 3d configurator, and most important the software to automatically design the bespoke shoes and generate all production data.

 

The animation above shows how the smartphone foot scans (left) are automatically translated into a bespoke shoe last and pattern. Each last is designed from scratch using more than 20 measurements of each foot. The algorithm is based on the knowledge and experience of the bespoke german shoemakers Vickermann & Stoya, who were part of our journey from the very beginning.

This is one of the first shoes which was completely designed by our software, based on a smartphone foot scan. The first prototypes were made by hand using the 3d printed shoes last and machine cut pattern pieces. This gave us more flexibility for the early evaluation of fit and pattern accuracy.  Below you can see a screenshot from the 3D shoe configurator.

Setting up mass production

In parallel, we also started to search for the right production partner. I actually spent weeks traveling through Europe and visiting different shoe factories. I also worked for two weeks at one of the factories, which helped to gain a deeper understanding of the production process. Although I have to admit that I, unfortunately, wasn’t skilled enough to be a real help 🙂

It took some time and a lot of meetings, but finally, we were able to find the right partner. From the perspective of production, the biggest challenge was to integrate everything into the existing logistical processes of the factory. They are used to working in batches of at least 10 shoes per model and size. Although a few of them offer MTO programs, they have at least the same lasts and patterns. In our case, each pair is made using a unique last and pattern for the left and right shoe. 

Furthermore, a bespoke last doesn’t necessarily follow all design conventions used for RTW shoes. A good example is the position of the topline: While RTW shoes use a fixed distance (usually 15 mm) between heel and instep, the topline position of a bespoke shoe depends on the feet of the customer. 

This shoe was made for a customer with low instep and high ankles. Therefore the topline curve is slightly tilted forward. 

Also a pair of bespoke last is not symmetrical. For ensuring a smooth production process without additional overhead it’s therefore not enough to provide a perfectly matching pattern. We also have to provide bills of materials, machine settings, and manufacturing instructions for each shoe. 

Everything starts with the cutting of the pattern pieces. We, therefore, provide the factory with digital pattern files, which include also all markings and material information. 

Shoe after lasting and stitching the upper to the canvas rib on the insole. When matching the correct position of the upper on the last, the leather is constantly overlapping around the whole last. Below you can see the pair after finishing.

We started to produce the first pre-orders and are preparing the launch of the brand for this summer. There are still some details we want to improve until then. So I might get back to you guys during the next few weeks and ask for your feedback. If you have any questions let me know! 

Cheers,

Milad