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The future of shoes – will it include foot scans, a gaming engine, and ‘Tesla-like’ factories?

Lecturers are big business.

Helped by collab with celebritiessocial networks and One-of-a-kind special edition With fans lining up outside stores on launch day, they’ve probably never been as much a sought-after fashion item as they are today.

I treat myself to a novelty pair, usually purchased online at a glance at the size. I just assumed they would fit and if they didn’t, I could smack them in – cue limped with painful blisters for several weeks.

But it can all soon turn into a distant, painful memory. Asher Clark, descendant of the Clarks shoe dynasty, has a grand plan for the “future of footwear” and to investigate it, I had to go get my feet measured.

Forget the tape measure and those weird shoe store gadgets, instead, Clark lets me step on what looks like a futuristic scale in the back of his Vivobarefoot store in central London, fitted out a real-time display of the soles of my feet.

From where I put all my weight (too much in the heel, not enough in the toes), to the measurements for everything from “instep circumference” to “arch height,” it’s far from with “looks like a seven and -half to me”.

Scan Tom's Legs
I put too much weight on my heels, it seems

Before long, this scale-like machine turned a scan of my foot into a 3D model and sent it to my phone, ready to form the basis for a custom shoe.

This is how we’ll all want our new coaches one day, says Clark.

“Ten thousand years ago, people made shoes from local materials,” he said.

“Now, we have no choice but to do the same thing.”

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Asher and his brother Galahad are the seventh generation of the Clark family and, 187 years since the dawn of the footwear dynasty, they launched Vivobarefoot in 2012 with the goal of creating shoes that make you feel close. as barefoot as possible.

They are almost like plimsoll when it comes to weight and thinness. It takes time to get used to them if you are used to pounding the pavement on normal exercise bikes. But the Clarks don’t regret believing they’re better for our feet, keeping them closer to the ground in a wider, more natural position.

The next step is to make them better for the planet – and that’s where my video game legs come in.

Tom's feet in 3D
Look mom, my feet are in the metaverse!

Made to order

“We are effectively using modern technology to produce shoes that we have been making millennia ago,” says Clark.

“All feet are different, so we can only do well in the aspect of putting the perfect shoe on your feet.

“The shoe industry has a long and labor-intensive development chain. It takes a long time, it’s inefficient, and it’s slow because you’re placing orders for stock. You’re making a huge bet as a shoemaker. business – ‘is ​​this the right shoe’, will people want it’ – before you put them in the store.

“We’re working towards an efficient digital model, created by one person locally.”

Vivobiome shoes have the same weight and feel as the company's standard sneakers
Vivobiome shoes have the same weight and feel as the company’s standard sneakers

The first step for “Vivobiome” customers is to scan their feet at home using a smartphone app. It will use the Unreal gaming engine to create their new shoes in 3D, allowing them to customize them and even try them on online.

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If they choose to order, the shoes will be manufactured using 3D printing with locally sustainable materials. Clark says it takes less than a month to scan your feet until you’re wearing the perfect size shoe.

It was an ambitious idea, presented to attendees for the first time at Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow, and one of the efforts to find a way to disrupt an industry shows no signs of slowing down.

The company first introduced the concept at COP26 in 2021
The company first introduced the concept at COP26 in 2021

Win the ‘sneakerheads’

Comprising major brands such as Nike, Adidas, Converse and Vans, the global coach market was worth more than $70 billion (£54 billion) last year and is expected to exceed $100 billion (£78 billion) by 2026.

With a seemingly unstoppable demand, whether it’s to replace your old All Stars or grab a pair of “limited edition” Stranger Things Vans, it’s no surprise that an incredible 20 billion pairs of shoes are sold. produced each year – many of which are sneakers.

And perhaps even more amazingly, 90% of them end up in landfills.

Clark doesn’t regret judging that the planet simply can’t take it any more – and his company’s ambitious Vibiome initiative should be fully up and running by the middle of next year.

Powering it will be “Tesla-like speed factories”, where – like Elon MuskAmerican electric car company – the entire shoemaking process takes place under one roof. The first will take place in Ireland in 2024, followed by Germany and the US.

FILE PHOTO: Panoramic view of giant Tesla factory in Austin, Texas, U.S., February 28, 2023. REUTERS/Go Nakamura/File Photo
Tesla factories have been cited as the inspiration for Vivobarefoot’s proposed shoe factories

price catch

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Vivobarefoot’s goal of helping the planet will only go so far if the shoes are affordable – and you can certainly pick up a few sneakers for the price the company thinks it will charge for them.

“It’s expensive to do things differently,” admits Clark, who is aiming for a starting price of £260.

In the meantime, the company has launched a “pioneering program” to put the initiative to work. Successful registrants will receive three pairs and will be asked to give feedback.

Foot scans will begin next month, with pairs rolling out from August to February.

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Word of mouth will likely be crucial to whether Vivobiome gets a quick start at launch, as there’s no sign that Michael Jordan is waiting in the wings to bring the brand to glory on his own.

“A company like Nike has built an emotional legacy with great athletes and great products,” says Clark.

“But I challenge that is the past. This is towards the next stage.”

You can’t doubt the ambition – but for now, Vivobiome’s success lies ahead.



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