Friday, January 30, 2015

Back to school shoes

On average a child’s foot grows approx 2-3 sizes per year. Growth spurts are normally faster in younger children (1-3 up to three sizes per year); up to 10 years - a couple of sizes per annum ; and thereafter slows down to one size per year up to the age of 17. Conditions do apply the timetable varies with individuals but foot bones do not complete ossification until the early 20s. Not all children hit growth spurts at the same time. The frustration is you buy a pair of shoes and a week or two later the kids have outgrown them. So “Sunday Best” practice is not a good idea with growing children.

Shoes and feet are not as compatible as you might imagine and getting the perfect fit is an almost impossible task for some. The reasons are compounded because humans are not symmetrical (same size on each side) but shoes are. Matching feet to shoes can present problems especially when issues such as narrow feet or different size feet arise. It makes sense therefore to have children’s feet measured and fitted for school shoes by qualified shoe fitters. However fitted footwear is more expensive and so most people on a limited budget will avoid it. There is some debate about having feet measured weight bearing whilst most retailers have the child sit, however manufacturers do add extra length to their shoes. More and more shoes are bought on line and the potential risk of poorly fitted shoes for children has become more common. Best advice is when buying off the net is to follow the sizing instructions carefully. A good idea when shoe shopping (with our without junior) is to take a cut out footprint of their feet to slip into the shoe to measure compatibility. All available research indicates the only way to assess best shoe fit is on a comfort scale, so always best to have junior there. Experts now believe the heel of the shoe helps stabilize the kinetic foot and should give a firm grip and added support to the rear foot - so if you want to prevent instability at the forefoot a snug fitting heel cup is preferred. Once fitted it is important to have your child walk and run comfortably in the shoes without tripping or stumbling.

Shoes size is classified by heel to ball measurement (length); and breadth (width across the ball of the foot). Sadly there is no standard size system (due to fierce commercial rivalry) and this makes buying shoes unnecessarily complex. There are plenty resources on the internet to help compare the size systems of different countries but these are not always available to the consumer at the point of purchase in a shoe shop. Most mass produced shoes have less breadth options and half sizes are not always available. Parents want shoes that will last the whole school term and shoe sellers recommend an adult thumb's width of space between the end of the toes and the front seams of the shoes while the child is standing ( approx. 1.5 – 2.00cm). Time was, not so long ago kids went to their local shoe shop and could see an x ray of their feet. The fluoroscope is no longer available because of the danger of radiation. Some high street venues offer technical biomechanical analysis usually with claims they can fit any foot. As with all programmable software however this generally means all feet measured can be matched to the current range of footwear available for retail at that venue. So consumer beware conditions do apply.

Provided the shoe is comfortable to wear and fit for purpose (walking running and sports etc.) then that is as good as it gets. Sweaty feet can benefit from the addition of added eyelets. Children and their parents are as prey to marketing as any consumer (some may say more so) and there is often social pressure to comply with fashion fads which invariably are expensive. Designer trainers represent the high end of the market but hold no magic when it comes to growing feet. Personally I am not a great fan of school uniforms but I do have sympathy when dress codes prevent bullying and playground marginalization caused by trendy footwear. Crossover from classic school shoe to trainer is now possible because of the new polymers which make lightweight hard wearing and durable footwear possible with the added advantage of complying with school requirements as well as give the feel of comfortable kicks.

Parents need to prepare junior(s) before going shopping for shoes. Makes sense to trim the toe nails before hand and have the socks and orthoses etc. with you for fit checkout. Most shoes have sufficient dead space to include cushioned insoles, foot orthoses without need to for extra big shoes. Always avoid busy shopping days (Monday morning is the time most buyers return their shoes); and shop in the afternoon when foot volume is maximum. Have the child try the shoes on and check for length, breadth and comfort. Get the child to stand on their tiptoes and check for heel grip. If the heel pops out at this point the shoe is most likely too long. There should be no need to “break shoes in,” and they should be comfortable from the beginning. It does make sense however to let the child wear their new shoes for a day or two before sending them off to school.


Simple anthropometry: Foot sizes and height are co-ordinated and so if your children are interested you can keep a record of growing. This is simple to collect and provides interesting feedback from a familial perspective as well as the collected data can be used in school projects for simple statistical analysis. From time to time some shoe retailers do use promotions such as a foot passport to encourage parents and children to have their feet measured.

The UK Shoe Size System for children is divided into 13 parts. Sizes start at five inches long (width across the knuckles or 13 barleycorns) and every fourth part of an inch thereafter until, size 12. Size 13 or short 13 and consists of length of 8 inches and a quarter (span of the hand) . This measured the average length of a child's foot at puberty. This also starts the Adult size 1.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sensoria: The smart sock

Heapsylon produce Sensoria, a $149 anklet device. The Sensoria is a horseshoe anklet and attaches to a special sock via five brass knuckle-like magnets stitched near the lower shin area. Special sensors in the bottom of the sock measure where the foot makes contact with the ground and for how long. The lightweight anklet contains a CPU which analyzes data from the sensors. Softwear displays a detailed heat map of where pressure is being placed on your foot, along with detailed statistics on foot contact time, cadence, steps taken, stride length, and speed .The discreet unit goes un-noticed but for a small hump in the sock. According to the manufacturers it coaches users with real-time analysis of their foot-striking position and stride. It will be available to its crowd-funders later this year and available to the public in 2015.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Exhibition :Shoes: Pleasure and Pain (V&A)

The Victoria & Albert Museum will showcase more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary shoes in a new exhibition, "Shoes: Pleasure and Pain." On ahow are some of the most extreme, amazing, absurd, luxurious and famous historic and contemporary footwear ever made. Exhibits explore the "agonizing aspect of wearing shoes as well as the euphoria and obsession they can inspire." The work of over 70 designers including: Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Zaha Hadid and Sophia Webster will be featured in the exhibit. The exhibits are organized across two floors and around three themes:

“Transformation” highlights shoes that are now legend, like the many interpretations of Cinderella’s slipper that through folklore and cultural influences have become “contemporary marketing tools for the concept of the modern-day, fairy-tale shoemakers, whose designs will magically transform the life of the wearer.

“Status” focuses on the correlation between impractical shoes, often designed in shapes and materials that make them unsuitable for walking and the people of privileged status who usually wore them. Then there are the outlandish and absurd modern creations there are Indian men’s shoes with extremely long toes, noisy slap-sole shoes worn in 17th century Europe and ‘Pompadour’ shoes worn by trend-setting women in the 18th-century French court.

“Seduction” include shoes that are “an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure. Like feet, shoes can be objects of fetishism. High Japanese geta, extreme heels and tight-laced leather boots will be on display as well as examples of erotic styles channeled by mainstream fashion in recent years. The show is sponsored by Clarks and supported by Agent Provocateur and the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. Shoes: Pleasure and Pain runs from June 13, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016, will .

Follow the blog, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain (V&A).

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Avi Reichental: What’s next in 3D printing

Avi Reichental can use 3D printers to make almost anything, out of almost any material.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

merry quip

Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel: Shoe Exhibition

Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel, Switzerland. The exhibition runs until Apr. 6 and has been organized with the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery in England. The oldest shoe in the exhibition comes from Egypt, and dates from around 1,000 B.C. Since the Stone Age, women have been the collectors and men more likely the hunters, the event’s organizers state. Throughout history, the shoe has come to symbolize social status and membership of particular social groups. The shoe has always had an important fashion function, reflecting the social status or group affiliation of the wearer, the release states. In ancient Egypt, only pharaohs were allowed to wear sandals with gold or silver plating, and only high officials and priests could wear sandals at all. The general population went barefoot. Among the ancient Greeks in around 700 B.C., an ordinance was issued regulating the use of jewels on sandals. In the Roman Empire, there were clear rules as to who could wear which shoes and how they could be decorated. During the Middle Ages, the tip length of the then-fashionable pointed shoes revealed one’s social standing. At the time of the Sun King Louis XIV (1643–1715, King of France and Navarre), only the king and high nobility were permitted to wear red heels. Just as one’s footwear was important as a sign of rank and wealth, voluntarily forsaking one’s shoes held special significance, signalling humility and penitence, the events organizers note. For many cultures, it was customary to go shoeless when approaching the divine. Religious missions and pilgrimages were sometimes undertaken barefoot; the custom lives on in the Mediterranean region today. More recently, the shoe has become a canvas for art, and more than 30 artists from across the globe have made their artistic shoe creations available for the show. At the show, Thomas Murphy, an English shoemaker of bespoke shoes for the young and old, will demonstrate his craft on some weekends. Visitors will have the chance to see how shoes made by hand are crafted today, and they will also have the opportunity to try their hand at a bit of shoe-making themselves.

Private shoemaking tuition: Thomas Murphy

Thomas Murphy offers private shoemaking tuition for anyone who dreams of making their own pair of shoes. Lessons can be tailored to suit your requirements in terms of what you'd like to learn or the shoe you'd like to make. No previous shoemaking experience required. Shoemaking is taught at the studio in Vauxhall, London and can either be individual tuition or you can come with a friend.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey: Smuggled toxic shoes from China cause health hazard

Shoes smuggled from China to Turkey seem to be the cause of health concerns after complaints were received someone suffered a rash and skin empurpling on her feet after wearing a pair of shoes. The lady noticed whenever it rained; the polish of her shoes ran and left her feet red. The resultant painful rash left her in hospital. The shoes are now being examined in laboratories and public authorities believe these are part of a batch smuggled into the country and later found to contain toxic chemicals. An estimated 25,510 pairs of shoes containing harmful chemicals were smuggled through Turley and according to customs officials carcinogenic chemicals were detected inside the polish of the 33,000 pairs of shoes. The confiscated shoes it would appear went missing while being taken to a disposal facility in the province of Kocaeli. The incident has angered consumer unions over negligence in the customs process. Authorities have warned against the purchase of cheap priced shoes in markets.