Thursday, August 6, 2009

funky footwear roundup

by frédérik sisa

The world of women’s footwear has no limits, it seems. For those achy feet after a night out on the town in heels, two UK companies have come up with rather spiffy and portable relief: inexpensive foldable ballet flats sold in vending machines. The first is Rollasole, rollable flats that come in black, gold or silver and go for £5-6.95. And by rollable, I mean literally rollable. The things are so flexible you can roll them up into a tight cylinder, store it in a matching bag and keep it in your purse. The vending machines are already in a variety of UK clubs; just pop in your money and out comes post-dancing relief. I don’t know about their plans to expand beyond the UK (the US seems like a prime market for this sort of thing) but they’re also available online.

Next up is Afterheels, the better of the two in my estimation. For bonus greenie points, these are fabricated from eco-friendly, recyclable polypropylene. Also interesting is what they refer to as the “science bit:”
Our specialist team have used over 20 years’ experience of pioneering materials from the aerospace and military sectors to create afterheels. We have adapted body armour strategies and technologies to offer your feet fantastic protection. The one-piece body outer offers an initial water barrier to keep feet dry and clean whilst the insole provides a secondary barrier to spread the load of sharp objects like stones. The outer and inner sole work together to shield your feet from small fragments of glass.
Tres cool. And all for £4.99 through vending machines located in various UK clubs. Again, not much good for ladies in the US…but there’s always the online option. Unfortunately, they don’t have a consistent choice of colours - metallic black pearl with fuchsia pink lining is the only online option at the moment - although they are soliciting votes on future colour combos.

Moving into more regular footwear, Phootlery (“jewelry for the foot”) offers a neat concept for the ladies: customizable sandals via interchangeable uppers. You begin by picking your sole (flat or demi-wedge, brown, gold, or silver) then choosing from a wide selection of uppers – these range from ankle-fringed suede to leather cages and assorted be-jeweled designs. Prices vary, but the total will easily push $300. In a way, it strikes me a bit pricey for a modular concept, although given the emphasis on “luxury” it comes at no surprise. Even when sticking to the same sole, each upper costs as much a whole pair of shoes. The idea is attractive, though.

So what about us guys? Anything interesting out there for us? The answer, for today, is an unqualified maybe. I recently came across sandals called “Dopie,” which may either be a misnomer or a case of truth in advertising. Designed by Matt Harrison while studying at the Royal College of Art in London and manufacture/distributed by Terra Plana, these pieces of minimalist footwear are clever feats of engineering and design. They’re conceptually like topless sandals, except that instead of using adhesive to keep the shoe on the foot, the big and second toes clamp around a toe post formed by a fold in the single-shape EVA/rubber footbed. The question is: how do they look? Weigh in below with your thoughts – would you wear these? As far as I’m concerned, I’m not sure. I think I’d need to try a pair and see how they feel/look in the context of what I wear in order to decide. Judging from this pic from the website, I am, at the least, intrigued...

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