The recent enthusiasm of the Maker Movement – tinkerers, craftspeople and cottage industrialists – has made DIY a prevalent, profitable enterprise. Further, advances in technology (e.g. 3-D printers by MakerBot) have eliminated barriers to the business boom in the basement. Even shoe-making is ripe for reinvention.
Sarah Eldershaw, a Toronto shoe-maker, developed a mail-order kit for DIY footwear. Her “Shoe String Assemblies” are available online. Each pack contains a needle and thread, a rubber sole, a pair of laces, instructions and a handful of leather bits. The hide (all vegetable tanned to avoid toxins) is pre-punched to make stitching easier. Unlike most shoemaking, there’s no glue involved (not even in the shipping packs, which are held together with the laces), and the design doesn’t require a last, the form required to mold most footwear.
Eldershaw’s invention, which she calls “Moxfords”, was a graduation project from OCADU (Ontario College of Art and Design University). It was also a winner at the competition sponsored by Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario. Judges were impressed that Eldershaw wore her prototypes throughout the 12-hour event.
1. A Brief History of Sneaker Brands
Check out the link for a gallery of thirteen great pictures. Here’s a cheat sheet:
- 1916 – U.S. Rubber, Keds, original sneaker
- 1917 – Converse Rubber Shoe Company, All Star, high-top basketball shoes
- 1920 – ‘Adi’ Dassler, shoemaker for Jesse Owens (1936); founds Adidas (1948)
- 1937 – PF Flyers (for Posture Foundation), distributes weight evenly
- 1958 – Reebok is founded
- 1960 – New Balance, the Trackster, in multiple widths
- 1970 (circa) – Nike co-founder creates treads with kitchen waffle iron
- 1991 – Reebok, the Pump, custom cushioning
- 2004 – Nike, the Free, original minimal shoe
- 2005 – Vibram, the FiveFingers, sections for each toe
- 2006 – Nike, the Air Max 360, foamless midsole
- 2006 – Nike, the Air Zoom, ‘talks’ to Apple’s iPod nano
- 2011 – Brooks, the PureProject, for a natural stride.
Article by Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2012.
2. He Says “Sneakers” and… She Says “Tennis Shoes”
Josh Katz, graphics editor at the New York Times and PhD student – http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jakatz2/ did an online questionnaire on specific word choices across the USA. This map shows the concentration of the use of “sneakers” as a vocabulary item.
Source for map:
and more about this study:
This week’s blog will explore how sneakers have a wedge position in the sub-cultures of fashion and athletics. Are we quietly trading our rubber soles, by another name?