Alrighty, so I’ve finished my first ever pair of handmade-by-me shoes. There’s about 3 solid days work in these, which probably says more about my speed than any indication of how long it should take. You can definitely see how fast you could make a pair of desert boots if you did it using machines (Clicker, Sewing machine, etc.).
So, from a design perspective, probably the most interesting thing for me was that when you make an ergonomic, minimalist shoe, any discrepancies between your foot sizes or shape is amplified. Although both shoes are identical, the left one feels considerably looser than the right. The right is my big foot so I designed everything around that, but having done these, I’d hazard a guess that my left foot is close to a full size smaller than my right.
The other thing that’s apparent is how strange flat soled shoes feel. These shoes have zero drop and a 7.5mm height, and the only padding is the give of the 2.5mm leather insole and 5mm Vibram EVA sole. This makes them essentially as close to barefoot as you can get whilst still wearing what can be defined as a modern shoe, yet they feel weirder than actually wearing a fully padded shoe. Probably an indication of how wrong things really are in the shoe world.
As a result, I’m going to look for some form of separate insole for them, probably a cork one, to give a little more form to the inside. Overall, I’d say the shoes are a little on the big side, so some insoles would help.
All-in-all though I feel good about these and think that I can go somewhere with the whole project. I’ve learned that the pattern-making side of things is critical and that if you mess up with that side of things, you can’t make up for it down the track. I’ve also learned that ‘maximalism’ hides a world of sins, and that with ergonomic minimalism, there’s definitely no hiding. I think with more practice the skills will naturally come, but it’s the pattern making that is the big deal here. The skills of cutting and sewing are fairly mechanical (if somewhat rhythmic and cathartic), and concentration and attentiveness pay off there, but as you would expect, design is the thing that shines through in the finished product.
So what’s next? Well, there’s a couple of shoes I want to make. One is an ‘inside-out’ shoe, where there is no stitching on the inside of the shoe, and the other project I’m interested in is doing an interpretation of a brilliant Nike shoe which they seem to have made about 5 pairs before pulling them from the market – the Nike Considered Long-Ball Lace.