Last night over dinner I was talking with my brother-in-law about the ghost economy in apparel, where billions of dollars worth of clothes are returned each year, largely from merchandise returned due to poor fit. He was taken aback at the depth of that pit — in 2015, $62.4 billion in 2015 worth of footwear and apparel was returned. In 2017, we are witnessing a steady sea change toward customization in what we wear; apparel made just for you offers the perfect fit and the all but guarantee that it’s exactly what you want, saving both you and the manufacturer time and money wasted on the returns process. As with many changes, this one is largely starting from the ground up. Literally. Customized footwear is changing the way we walk, potentially turning every stroll into a stride of pride as each footfall is marked with customized support for our previously-aching arches.
Among the biggest names helping our arches is Wiivv, founded in 2014 by CEO Shamil Hargovan and Louis-Victor Jadavji and making waves ever since. The company has been collecting investors with several successful funding rounds, won the Inside 3D Printing Startup Competition at Santa Clara 2014, and not only brought its custom 3D printed insoles to market through a campaign that met success on Kickstarter, but broke crowdfunding records while doing so. Continuing on into 2017, Wiivv hasn’t slowed down at all, just last month announcing an additional $4 million funding round and acquisition. Today, the company has launched its second Kickstarter campaign, introducing the Wiivv Custom Fit Sandal.
Wiivv’s co-founder and CEO filled 3DPrint.com in on his thoughts running up to today’s launch, explaining:
“We began with a Custom Fit 3D Printed Insole to help what keeps us supported all day: our feet. Our next product idea, a custom fit sandal, came because our customers were asking for it. Sandals are a summer staple. But traditional flip flops are really bad for our biomechanics. They often hurt our feet and you can’t wear them all day,” Hargovan tells us.
“Wiivv’s sandals are the first footwear in the world to be custom fit to your unique feet. They are digitally mapped using our award-winning app from your smartphone, and 3D printed at our facility in San Diego. Our sandals aren’t just comfortable and personalized. They’re biomechanically designed to eliminate over-pronation, toe scrunch and foot fatigue without compromising style. We’re passionate believers in being the first to bring the highest-quality, truly functional and uncompromisingly stylish 3D printed custom products to people at an affordable price.”
Wiivv recognizes that every foot is different, and uses a biomechanical design methodology to create unique footwear — after digitally mapping more than 200 points on each foot to ensure that perfect fit. I recently tried out the Wiivv app — available on Android and iOS — and it truly is as easy as they say to create this map of your own foot. In less than five minutes, and with some excellent hallway acrobatics, if I do say so myself, I had taken photos of my feet on a standard piece of computer paper from above and from the side to capture the arch, with the app talking me through each step (and scolding me when my phone wasn’t upright enough propped against the wall). The process was reminiscent of what I went through last year when scanning my feet for a custom-fit pair of shoes from Feetz, but then there really are only so many was to use a smartphone to scan a foot. I’ll be reporting back soon once my custom insoles arrive in the near future. I again do not have a sample-sized foot (if I wore a size 7 shoe at 6’1″ I’d likely fall over), so sample-sized writer Clare also used the app to scan her feet and will soon be taking a sample pair of custom Wiivv sandals for a test walk.
The Wiivv Custom Fit Sandal is intended to replace those one-size-fits-all flip flops so ubiquitous today, as the team straightforwardly notes:
“Traditional flat flip flops are really bad for us. That’s no secret. So we said, f*ck that. Let’s design a sandal that not only looks good, it actually supports your body’s biomechanics throughout the day.”
The intention here is to use science to support the foot in a very personalized way. Live only since this morning, the Kickstarter is already showing great gusto from those eager supporters Jadavji had noted; as of the time of writing, more than 230 backers have already pledged about $20,000 (and quickly rising), getting the campaign well on its way to the $250K goal before its conclusion on April 22nd.
“After the success of our insoles, Kickstarter backers started requesting a sandal. Flip flops are part of our summer uniform, yet traditional models are detrimental to foot biomechanics. The general market wasn’t addressing this issue, so we decided to tackle it head on,” said Jadavji.
Touted among the benefits of the custom design are:
- Custom arch support
- Provides optimal comfort for feet by distributing weight
- Custom strap placement
- Size and arch measurements keep feet in place and provide support while walking
- Deep heel cup
- Stabilizes the heel and absorbs shock with each step
- Custom toe-thong placement
- Reduces annoying rubbing, pinching and chafing
- Toe grip
- Specially engineered to provide extra metatarsal support
- 100% recyclable, flexible, high density foam that forms to each foot
- Interchangeable & adjustable straps
- Provide style and comfort versatility for any occasion
- Personalized looks
- 8 strap designs, and five arch colors to match any taste
Super early bird rewards ($65 for a pair of custom sandals) are going quickly to the first 500 backers; following that, 1500 backers will be able to get early bird pricing at $70 for one pair; then Kickstarter pricing will be $79 for a pair. Retail pricing will be $95 after the campaign. If the numbers of super early bird and early bird packages available sound somewhat high, keep in mind that Wiivv’s first Kickstarter saw pledges from 2,765 backers. At $250,000, the goal for this campaign is higher than both the $50,000 goal and ultimately $235,000 brought in from their first campaign.
Wiivv has really been feeling the love from backers who believe in what they’re bringing to feet everywhere.
“Big footwear brands still don’t grasp the fact that 14 billion unique feet need 14 billion unique solutions. In an industry dominated by mass produced products, and offshore supply chains, we’re proud to offer one-off custom products at scale,” said Hargovan.
Kickstarter can be a daunting launch pad for products these days, with even successfully funded campaigns running into trouble after the funding closes, but it remains a popular launchpad for products in the 3D printing space. For companies like Wiivv, though, that have demonstrated prowess with the crowdfunding platform and have cultivated a winning and growing business strategy, it’s easy to predict success to come. When — not if — this campaign hits its funding goal, we’re sure to hear more about custom fitted shoes coming from Wiivv, and 3DPrint.com will be keeping you up to date with feedback right from the ground as we test these out ourselves. Discuss in the Wiivv forum at 3DPB.com.
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