“7 billion sizes, 1 for everyone in the world” — Feetz
The Story — “If one could choose just 1 out of the 87,000 combinations to get that comforting sip of coffee blend, surely the same could be applied to shoes?” Sipping on a very specific grande mocha light with two pumps during a frustrating shopping trip is exactly the epiphany that Feetz founder Lucy Bear had.
But while shoe shopping can be exasperating, for others who may have Broc Brown with Sotos Syndrome, also known as cerebral gigantism, shoe shopping becomes more troubling than ever. Shops usually stock upper shoe sizes up to 13 or 14, Brown requires size 28 shoes. This is where Feetz come in.
“I saw 3D printers in a magazine, and I thought ‘mass customization.’” Lucy Beard, chief executive of Feetz
Made to fit — Feetz resolves size and fit problems by employing 3D printing, customising each pair of shoes for the consumer, and the process goes like this: a customer takes three photos of each foot (Feetz captures 22 measurements from these), and submits the data to Feetz. Feetz uses their custom algorithms to generate a specific shoe 3D model in the selected design and at the correct sizing. They then produce the shoes and ship to the customer.
Other than being customisable, Feetz unique patented polymer, Flexknit™ Polymer, is superior in its flexibility: it is able to stretch 700–800% without breaking and return to its original shape. Feetz® has been named Entrepreneur’s Magazine Top 100 Brilliant Companies in 2016 and Fast Company’s Most Creative People 2016.
Doing Good — Surely 3D printing is fascinating for most, but it isn’t the latest technology that piqued our interest at Restorative Innovation. As a business person and a mom, Beard has this to say, “We don’t just need to consume, but in understanding how we make things, we can now question what’s the right way to make something. Do we think of the waste, the chemicals, the impact it has from different manufacturing systems? With that knowledge, we can then choose what we want for our personal future and for future generations.” And there we have it — a mindful entrepreneur.
Feetz has been very earnest in ensuring their shoes are environmentally friendly, and this dedication is certainly made more apparent when we contrast to what exists in the mass market. Feetz emphasise on using less materials. Also, by using 3D printing, Feetz only use the material in the shoe — this reduces the waste generated by 60%. They also source and use sustainable materials and packaging that can be reused, such as shoe bags, right up to the core shoe material — this enables Feetz to melt and remake shoes. They are very much unlike the typical worn-out shoes, which can end up in a landfill for nearly 1,000 years. By using recycled and recyclable materials, the carbon footprint is reduced by 60%. In addition, their products require zero water — that is 2,000 galloons of water saved, per pair!
Price is right — Feetz market their product on the basis that they are able to mass customise shoes for their customers. However, as the technology is still in its early stage in development, the production of Feetz shoes is not yet fully efficient and still requires man power to finish a pair; on this note, it took Feetz 2 years before they came up with a shoe that passed their standards.
Understandably, the shoes are sold a higher price point than the industry average. However, the price has decreased from 199USD per pair, to 185USD for the highest price per pair in April 2018. Additionally, there has been expectations that the price will gradually decrease when other players offering comparable values and product attributes enter the market. There is inherent inefficiency in the supply chain, but with increased productivity in the future, Feetz will eventually close the price gap and reach the stage of acceptable and affordable price range in the restorative innovation cost framework.
Through Feetz, we see how 3D printing technology is employed by an environmentally conscious entrepreneur. And perhaps, through Feetz you also found out just how much resources are being put into your pair of shoes. We hope you are just as inspired to see how one person can influence those around and begin transforming an age-old industry, one step at a time.
Join the inaugural World Restorative Innovation Forum 2018 to learn more about how you can help better this world. With the great lineup of speakers, you can be sure 17th September will be a fulfilling day!
Written by Kathleen Peh & Wasita Thongdee
Picture credits: Feetz & Canva