A new orbiting digital camera that measures feet in 3-D could mean the days of buying shoes off the rack are numbered. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
The goofy-looking socks seen above may be the beginning of the end of buying shoes off the rack.
The socks, coupled with the orbiting digital camera also seen above, are part of a process being used by luxury men's shoes retailer The Left Shoe Company to digitally scan, in 3-D, your feet in order to custom build for you shoes that fit perfectly.
"We're able to ascertain several things: what shape foot you have or what shape style shoes that you should aspire towards. Then, we're able to index your foot correctly," says Gordon Clune of the Left Shoe Company. "And let's say this is the ball of your foot. We're able to put that properly in the shoe we'll build for you so the shoe will do what it needs to do when you're walking in it. And finally, we're able to ascertain the mass of both feet, the mass, not just the length and the width, but the volume that the foot needs."
Now, you're probably thinking, 'Custom made shoes, just for me, they have to cost a lot more than similar shoes I would just buy off the rack.' Well, The Left Shoe Company says actually, because of the technology, no, that's not the case.
"We're tooled up to make a size shoe, a men's size 5, very narrow, and a men's size 17 very wide without having one stitch of inventory. Do you know how much that would cost if I had to inventory all those ranges?" Clune says. "So we can do that, and we don't have that inventory, we don't have all that capital tied up, and we don't have to pass that on into the price of our shoe."
Again, though, The Left Shoe Company sells luxury shoes, made of Italian leather, handcrafted in Portugal, so the company says the $400 to $700 average price tag reflects those factors rather than the fact that they're custom-made.
Right now, there's just one permanent store in L.A., with another coming to NYC and plans for other big cities down the line. In the meantime, it's bringing a pop-up store around the country, hoping to get customers to scan their feet once. That way, they can confidently buy online afterwards. The average wait from purchase until delivery is about six weeks.