An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

If I were a shoe designer... Part 4 (and final)

I've been trying to come up with something profoundly different, but I'm just not getting there, so I present what I have up to now.The main functions of the shoe upper are to (1) keep debris out, and (2) keep the footbed/midsole/sole on your foot. Along with that, how that upper fits is key, which is tied in with the last on which the shoe is made (which is part of the shape I referred to in an earlier post).

Important to me is a lacing system that allows tension to be adjustable by areas. Maybe this is tied in (haha) with the wide forefoot, but I've been lately tying the laces of my shoes so that there's zero tension in the laces in the lowest two eyelets, and all the tension goes through the instep area. It allows my foot to splay more in the metatarsals and toes. And it may also be tied in with the toe box curving inward -- not enough room at the little toe because the shape of the last is curved. Leaving no tension there lets the upper material move with my foot, instead of mushing my little toe inward. I also do like traditional laces over things like velcro straps, wires, buckles, etc.
The last pair of Nike shoes that "worked" for me had a very flexible upper, mesh only. There was a slight toe "bumper" area of fake leather, which didn't extend over the toes, and the rest was mesh. The upper of the Kinvara is comfortable (at least in it's flexibility), but it's wearing through already. That won't do at all. So the material needs to be soft and very pliable, but durable.

A heel counter is optional. Maybe something semi-soft, but not as soft as the Nike Free. I'll have to wait and see what the Merrel Barefoot is like (rumor is that the Born to Run store in Bellevue should have them this week).

And as with any good shoe, seams should be minimal so that wearing them sockless isn't an exercise in callus development.

That pretty well covers it.

It's been suggested that I should become a shoe designer. I don't know that I'd want to give up my day job to switch over to full-time kicks designer, but I'd be open to becoming a consultant...

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