What I’d like to see in footwear design…

We’ve been fitting footwear at Mountainfeet with a podiatric eye for several years and have dealt with literally thousands of customers presenting hundreds of varied bio mechanical issues. As we’ve grown in experience, both through practice and study, we’ve come to the conclusion that the outdoor footwear manufacturing industry is still missing a trick or two.

We have many skills and tools available to us to improve the fit of footwear and to retrospectively add support or extra comfort where needed but I still feel that the bulk of manufacturers aren’t looking at boot design with enough of an anatomical eye and in my humble opinion that’s a huge mistake. There are decades of acquired skill relating to the design and manufacture of premium quality footwear from brands such as Scarpa, Meindl and Zamberlan but something tells me that the shaping (lasting) of their product still owes much to a certain ‘suck it and see’ development method rather than a study of what the dynamically performing foot needs to promote best health.

So, it was highly interesting to present a ‘wish’ list of the features we feel are needed in a modern day walking boot to a British designer and listen to his positive feedback.

I still find it hard to believe that most footwear isn’t shaped to fit the foot properly and allow it to function properly. If you look at a foot that has been allowed to develop correctly, you’ll notice that the widest point isn’t where the toes start at the metatarsophalangeal joints (the flex point of the boot) but is actually where the toes end. So why does footwear nearly always taper in after the flex point?

If you have a look at the humble Croc footwear, you’ll see the kind of shaping that should be applied to the forefoot area of walking footwear – asymmetric and wide to allow the big toes to extend forward on pronation without being deflected towards the second toe by unyielding leather. We currently have sourced a few models of footwear, mainly from Meindl that are close to ideal but there is scope for much more offering yet.

I gave a list of requirements to our designer friend along with four boot model names that all have interesting attributes. Will he rise to the challenge and eventually provide the product that we and untold other specialist footwear retailers need?

I’ll certainly be back to let you know sometime soon…