The future of footwear – will it include foot scans, a gaming engine and ‘Tesla-like’ factories? | Science and technology news
Coaches are big business.
Helped by Celebrity Collaborationssocial media and unique special editions Getting fans to queue outside the stores on launch day has perhaps never been a more covetable fashion item than it is today.
I treat myself to the odd new pair that I usually buy online with a cursory glance at sizing. I just assume they fit and if not I can break them in – a sign of limping around with painful blisters for several weeks.
But all of that could soon be a distant, painful memory. Asher Clark, scion of the Clarks footwear dynasty, has a grand plan for the “future of footwear” and in order to investigate it I had to have my feet physically measured.
Forget the tape measure and those weird devices in the shoe store. Clark instead had me step onto a futuristic scale at the back of his Vivobarefoot store in central London, which featured a monitor showing the bottoms of my feet in real time.
From the way I shifted all of my weight (too much on my heels, not enough on my toes) to the measurements for everything from “instep circumference” to “arch height,” it was a far cry from “looks like.” a seven-and”. -one and a half for me”.
Not long after, this scale-like machine had converted a scan of my feet into a 3D model and sent it to my phone, ready to form the basis of a custom-made pair of shoes.
So, says Clark, we all want to get our new sneakers someday.
“Ten thousand years ago, people made shoes from local materials,” he says.
“Now we have no choice but to do the same.”
Asher and his brother Galahad are the seventh generation of the Clark family and founded Vivobarefoot in 2012, 187 years after starting a shoe dynasty with the aim of creating shoes that make you feel as close to being barefoot as possible.
In terms of weight and thinness, they are almost similar to plimsolls. It takes time to get used to when you’re used to walking the asphalt in regular sneakers. But the Clarks firmly believe they’re better for our feet by keeping them in a wider, more natural position closer to the ground.
The next step is to make them better for the planet — and that’s where my feet, which look like a video game, come in.
Clark says, “We use modern technology effectively to make the shoes we made millennia ago.”
“Every foot is different, so we can only achieve limited success when it comes to providing you with the perfect shoe.”
“The shoe industry has a long, labour-intensive development chain. It takes a long time, is inefficient and slow because you order on stock. You make a big bet as a company, “Is this the right shoe?” “Will people want it?”—long before you have them in stores.
“We’re trying to get to an efficient, person-to-person digital model on the ground.”
The first step for a Vivobiome customer would be to scan their feet at home using a smartphone app. It would use the Unreal gaming engine to create their new shoes in 3D, customize them and even try them on virtually.
If they choose to order, the shoes would be 3D printed using local, sustainable materials. Clark says it would take less than a month from scanning your feet to wearing the perfect size shoes.
It is an ambitious idea that was initially presented to the participants Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow, and one aimed at disrupting an industry that shows no signs of slowing down.
Win over the sneakerheads
The global trainers market, which includes mega brands such as Nike, Adidas, Converse and Vans, was worth more than US$70 billion (£54 billion) last year and is expected to hit the US$100 billion mark by 2026 (July 78). billion pounds).
Given the seemingly unstoppable demand, whether it’s to replace your old All Stars or snag those “limited edition” Stranger Things Vans, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a staggering 20 billion pairs of shoes are made every year – many of which are sneakers.
And perhaps even more amazing is that 90% of it is destined to end up in landfill.
Clark makes no apologies in his assessment that the planet just can’t take any more of it — and his company’s ambitious Vivobiome initiative should be fully operational by the middle of next year.
It’s powered by “Tesla-like speed factories” where – about Elon Muskis the company for electric cars – the entire shoe manufacturing process takes place under one roof. The first will take place in Ireland in 2024, with others to follow in Germany and the USA.
The Prize Catcher
Vivobarefoot’s goal of helping the planet will only succeed if the shoes are affordable – and you could certainly buy a pair of sneakers for the price the company thinks they’re charging their shoes.
“It’s expensive to do things differently,” admits Clark, who is targeting an introductory price of £260.
The company has now launched a “pioneering program” to put the initiative through its paces. Those who apply successfully will receive three pairs and will be asked to give feedback.
Foot scans will begin next month, with pairs being introduced between August and February.
Word of mouth will likely be critical to Vivobiome getting off to a flying start at launch, as there’s no sign of a Michael Jordan waiting in the wings to propel the brand to stardom on its own.
“A company like Nike has built an emotional legacy with great athletes and cool products,” says Clark.
“But I doubt that’s the past. That is the view of the next phase.”
There’s no doubting the ambition – but Vivobiome’s success is uncertain for now.