People Footwear has just introduced a line of sneakers made with a 3D printed mesh which seem, and this is more the exception than the rule when it comes to 3D printed shoes, like something you could actually wear.
Consider that the global athletic footwear market alone was worth $74.7 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $84 billion in 2018, and you can begin to understand the potential market for a new brand that finds success. Analysts say the factors driving the global athletic footwear market include a growing awareness of “healthy and active lifestyles,” a rising demand for comfortable footwear, and equally high demand for innovative footwear designs featuring new technology as younger generations with growing disposable income levels begin to express their preferences.
Footwear designer Damian Van Zyll De Jong is the man behind the company. With their Stanley sneakers and Phillips shoe lines, the company has created a product that appears very nearly akin to other shoe brand offerings.
While the shoes aren’t built upper-to-sole with a 3D printer, they are made with the company’s proprietary materials and techniques, which creates what they say is a durable, 3D printed mesh construction designed to promote airflow.
Van Zyll De Jong says using 3D printers has streamlined their manufacturing process and helps them reduce waste. The upshot is a pair of 3D printed shoes priced at a relatively modest 60 bucks a pair.
Van Zyll De Jong, along with Matt Penner, started the People Footwear brand when the Vancouver, B.C.-based pair of childhood friends and skateboarders with backgrounds in design got their first cash investment. The pair also spent about four years of building another shoe brand, Native, before they went looking to answer the “What next?” question.
After leaving Native Shoes, the pair came up with a brand strategy aimed at creating products with the slogan, “Feet First Into The Future.” The company’s SS15 collection just launched in select stores and is available on the company’s website.
The Stanley, one of the company’s offerings, features a breathable upper with 3D printed paneling creating unique textures.
The pair say that after some experiments with injection molding, they sought an emerging manufacturing technique, and they settled on 3D printing.
“We’ve only just gotten started and are super excited to see how the market reacts to the brand,” says Van Zyll De Jong of the launch. “We all have our heads down working hard and constantly looking at shoes. There are some really exciting new styles coming out for future seasons that I can’t wait to release. It’s all about product and making sure our retailers are happy.”
People Footwear’s products are made using what they call SkyLite, an EVA-based molded foam, with their Ezy-Brzy no-sew construction method which utilizes 3D printing.
Do you think you’d buy — and wear — a pair of 3D printed kicks from People Footwear? Let us know in the People Footware forum thread on 3DPB.com.