Anyone with an outdoor spirit is probably used to hiking, running and climbing. Those with an affinity for these activities also might have an extensive collection of shoes geared for the different uses. Many of these shoe owners will know the frustration seeing a part of your shoe fall apart at the worst moments from heavy usage.
There’s also the cases where your shoes are perfectly fine, but the soles have worn down or are cracking from the wear and tear. At that point, you’d usually have three options. Change to a new pair, try to mend the shoes or just chuck them away.
A Malaysian named Nurali Rahman Mohamed was always bothered by these limited options so he decided to do something about it and came up with a solution that could change his way of wearing shoes forever—modular footwear.
Good Shoes Take You To Good Places
ShoeBloxx, the brainchild of DoYouShoe, brings you footwear that allows you to separate the upper part of the shoe from the bottom part (outer sole).
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The core concept of these shoes is ‘simplicity’ where the idea is to remove one component which is generally used in footwear manufacturing: the bonding or glue agent. In doing so, it give users the ability to detach the upper canvas fabric from the bottom rubber outsole and this makes it easier to fix by parts too. Thus, the issues of torn or ripped uppers can be dramatically minimised.
This also means that the introduction of interchangeable and more customisable parts are now made possible. With the removal of the glue or adhesive component, production cost and production time will also be greatly reduced.
Currently, DoYouShoe offers several custom designs for ShoeBloxx in their crowdfunding campaign and will continue to produce several more designs in the weeks to come.
According to Nurali, “The main concept is to enable the users to create their own designs and submit it to the online platform which will then be printed onto the customised shoe they will purchase. This process will not take more than 5 days to complete.”
The Journey To Customisable Shoes
When Nurali first came up with the idea of creating an innovative footwear, he was still tied down with a 9–5 job. It wasn’t until he decided to bring the thought into reality and pursue it as a serious startup that he resigned from his job and began on a path of uncertainty.
“For the first six months, I found myself spending lunch breaks in my car because I didn’t have enough money to buy lunch and was afraid I would bump into my friends who would want me to have lunch with them.
I spent the time in the car regretting my decision to quit my ‘safe’ job and thought that perhaps pursuing having a company that makes detachable shoes is a big mistake,” said Nurali to Vulcan Post.
But now that ShoeBloxx has gained some traction, he believes it was a decision well worth taking and one he no longer regrets.
Kicking Up Your Designs
Let’s be real though, modular footwear is not something new within the shoe industry, with big names such as Nike and Adidas already offering products that allow mixing and matching design styles, easy storage and adaptability to multiple activities.
To make themselves different, ShoeBloxx focuses more on the user experience rather than the shoe itself. By giving freedom for users to generate their own designs, ShoeBloxx hopes to spur artistic individuality and also help users to generate income by changing consumers into prosumers by leveraging on their online footwear designer platform.
“Moving ahead, we are allowing designers, artisan and brand owners to upload their designs on the platform for our users to purchase which enables these designers to make income from royalties for each shoe sold using their design.
This will increase the design options to our community of ShoeBloxx users and create opportunities for designers to create and promote their own brand,” said Nurali.
There are also plans for ShoeBloxx to eventually incorporate technology into shoes that will allow it to interact with other IoT wearables (e.g. fitness bands and GPS compatible devices). They hope their community will also participate in planning and designing such IoT devices that can pair with the shoes.
In preparation for their Indiegogo campaign, they already gathered close to 1500 signups and more than 300 pre-bookings before launch day so the interest is there.
In Malaysia, it’s still rare to see modular footwear offered by a local team. Plus, being able to craft my own shoes from the look to the feel is pretty nifty.
The price is considered a little high if you’re not one to usually spend more than RM50 for shoes. However, at USD35 (about RM142), they seem quite reasonable for a pair of shoes that you can customise to that extent. It’s an idea that could take off if they get enough people on board with their concept.
Feature Image Credit: DoYouShoe