timberland online store Comfortable high heels
The designers say these high heels represent a step toward fashion’s holy grail: pain free footwear that’s just as chic as those Choos, Manolos and Louboutins.
Invisible to the naked eye, but crucial to the aching foot, are built in orthotics, anatomically correct footbeds, metatarsal arch support, and strategically placed straps and heels.
“You have the worst day when you’re wearing dowdy shoes,” says Dana Davis, referring to styles offered by many “comfort” lines. From Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon and Marin’s Anyi Lu’s offerings to the widely available Rockports, Merrells and Clarks, the territory is well trod, but few have surmounted the 3 inch heel barrier and turned the corner from frumpy to fashionable.
She spent a year consulting foot and ankle surgeons, podiatrists and other experts to develop her approach. Typical stilettos throw off the balance of the foot, pushing the wearer’s weight toward the toe, which is often the only part of the shoe with padding.
Davis’ shoes provide cushioning at three key points, including a “speed bump” that keeps the heel where it should be instead of displacing weight forward. Ankle straps, platform soles and thicker outsoles also help stabilize the foot. The made in Italy shoes also feature built in or removable tri density orthotics.
Like Igdari, twins Jessica and Emily Leung, 30, of Mountain View are shoe lovers who don’t want to sacrifice style for comfort. once nearly passed out on a Vegas dance floor after too many hours in painful Christian Louboutin shoes, but it was actually her brief marriage that inspired Hey Lady shoes. The lack of comfortable, non dyeable wedding footwear options led to a second ever “twin moment”: the epiphany that footwearcould be “actually danceable,” as well as fashionable.
“I quit my job the next week, and we started,” says Leung, who was working in marketing for Chip Pepper and Paige denim. Her sister had studied premed in college and worked in business, commercial real estate and public relations, “learning what not do in a business.”
A year and a half of researching comfort technology, interviewing podiatrists, holding focus groups of salsa dancers and, finally, a trip to China culminated in the now 2 year old line. Key to the comfort, they say, is the shock absorbing Poron memory foam insole, also used in athletic shoes, that works like a Tempur Pedic mattress for the feet.
While most of Hey Lady’s business is online and has come through word of mouth, the shoes are carried in a handful of Bay Area bridal boutiques, including Bella Bridesmaid in Los Gatos. Earlier this year, their
The sisters work out of their Mountain View apartment, where they’re about to open a studio and showroom. Their shoes are produced in China and, starting soon, Italy. So far, they have been funneling the profits back into production and have yet to draw a salary, though their orders increase each time around. “We want to be a household name, especially in the wedding industry,” Jessica Leung says.
Igdari, 30, a senior R scientist at Roche, approached shoes as methodically as her day job. She spent three years at the , studying fashion design at night, interning at Yasmin Deluxe Couture in Palo Alto, then working at Shuz of Danville to see customers’ foot woes firsthand. It was at that point, in 2007, she realized she could meld high fashion with comfort. “Why not make a high end shoe and really make it anatomically correct, so it follows the contour of the human foot?”
She spent 2008 and 2009 looking for a manufacturer for the footbed she had in mind, finally settling on a family owned company in Canada. Igdari filed a patent for her SoleAsana design, which features a deep, cradling heel cup; three kinds of arch support; and an ergonomic toe box. Though stiff at the outset, the thin, sueded leather footbeds are designed to mold to the individual foot. “The construction of the shoe is what really matters,” she says. Eventually, she found a small factory in Italy to produce the shoes.
With their Swarovski crystal details, satin uppers and signature neon yellow bottoms, and retail prices starting at $500, Igdari’s shoes are aimed at a customer who doesn’t want to give up high heels but may be looking for an alternative to those punishing red soled shoes.
While the shoes may look and sound good, foot care professionals aren’t buying it. Most comfort brands don’t go above 2 or 3 inches because a heel that is 3 inches high creates seven times more stress than a 1 inch heel, according to the .
Dr. , a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon who practices at the ‘s department of sports medicine and is the podiatrist for Nike’s running team, explains that after 1.5 inches, the pressure increases on the ball of the foot, so “high heeled shoes and thin soled shoes will promote ball of the foot numbness.”
While arch support helps, particularly in areas where fat padding has diminished, it’s still a “physics experiment that women are trying to do fitting their feet into a smaller area.”
Not surprisingly, he doesn’t endorse 3 inch heels and points out that some of Davis’ fans (Freida Pinto, and ) are wearing them for a limited amount of time on the red carpet, not all day. “They’re trying to make something that’s uncomfortable comfortable, so I do give her credit for that.”
But he did approve of athletic technology making its way into nonathletic shoes, such as Cole Haan incorporating Nike Air technology, and the use of shock absorbing cork soles.
The Brown Shoe Co., which owns Naturalizer, Sam Edelman, Franco Sarto and Dr. Scholl’s, saw the need for more fashionable comfort shoes and, a year ago, started eco chic line Naya. Director of design and product development Kasey Gibbs says she had been waiting for an opportunity to combine shoes with a softer environmental footprint and “make it pretty.” Spring styles include cork heel sandals with cushioned insoles and bright vegetable tanned leather uppers.
The way to ensure a truly comfortable shoe, Saxena says, is to not go above a 1.5 inch heel, choose rubber soles as opposed to hard leather and limit the amount of time spent in higher heels. Ultimately, “the outline of the foot needs to fit the inside of the shoe,” Saxena says.
“Foot doctors aren’t thrilled with 4 or 5 inch heels,” Davis admits, “but they know that some girls are going to wear them.”
Stephanie Solomon, women’s fashion director for Bloomingdale’s, had yet to try Davis’ line but during a recent visit to San Francisco quipped: “Whoever invented them, they should be canonized.”