We’ve all been there – at a wedding, prom, or other celebratory occasion – when at some point you’ll look around and notice that most of the girls have taken off their shoes and are dancing the night away in their bare feet. By this time, you’ve either tossed your own shoes aside as well or you wish you already had, because your feet are in so much pain from trying to endure the killer heels you’re still wearing. One night at a wedding, a client of mine experienced a similar scenario and while dancing with her husband, a magnate in the mens shoe industry, she noted all the women reduced to their stocking feet and asked him “Isn’t there a way to make high heels more comfortable?” He replied, “If there was a better way, they’d already be doing it.”
To my enterprising client, this presented the challenge she has since dedicated the last 10 years of her life to solving. In 2003, she filed her first US patent for a high heel shoe cushion system where an increased amount of padding is added within an open midsole to the forepart area. This allows for a larger, softer cushioned area under the ball of your foot, which unnaturally becomes subject to the majority if your body weight when your foot is pitched up in high heels. In another patent, filed the next year, she included more detail about how the cushion insert is positioned within the open part of the insole and added a top layer of cushioning that spans the entire surface of the footbed.
The concept is a good one, but as with any labor of love, she has had to overcome many hurdles through the process of bringing her dream to life. Eventually, through the ever-buzzing network of footwear industry professionals, the two of us were introduced with the hope that I could create a new and improved prototype for her to use as a tangible reference of her idea. After studying the patents, photos, and materials sent to me, I created a plan that would incorporate her technology into my own custom shoe components. A large footwear company would use blueprints and 3-D software to create perfect molds and dies for each part to interlock like puzzle pieces, but in my world of making shoes by hand, these pieces had to be created from existing material and manually adapted to fit together. Nevertheless, my PVC platform part worked well for the stabilizing midsole perimeter piece and I switched to lightweight Poron urethane foam for the cushion.
The snakeskin sandal was designed to show off the comfort features of the footbed and in the following photos you can see a rare before-and-after glimpse of all the parts that went into making this deceptively simple finished product. Are these shoes the most comfortable high heels ever? They may come close, but every girl’s body is different and every foot responds to high heels a bit differently. Unfortunately, at this time, it would be prohibitive for me to continuing incorporating this cushioning system into any future custom shoes, but with the experience earned while meeting this unique challenge, you can be sure that comfort will never be far from my mind here at Katie Blauer.
Click here to see more pictures of these comfortable snakeskin sandals in our Gallery!