Profound changes in the way footwear
is marketed and manufactured were anticipated at the EuroFootwear
Conference held in Bordeaux, France, last October. What's new?
Electronic Commerce and data on a global scale.
Customized Shoemaking Is Coming
An example of producing custom
fit footwear using computers as a tool was provided by Alan Zerobnick,
Chairman of Digitoe Computerized Footwear Systems, of the USA.
Following a career in shoemaking
going back to 1970, Mr. Zerobnick recalled that in 1994 he developed
and built a Digital Imaging Workstation for scanning the feet
and converting the pictures to a format that could be read by
a computer. His vision was to place these foot scanning devices
in remote locations in the "Global Village" making
it convenient for people to have their feet measured. Once their
last details were on file, they could communicate with Digitoe
directly by Internet or telephone without having to return to
a retail fitting center.
In 1997 Digitoe opened its first
retail test site in Seattle, USA and began to accept clients
for customized shoe lasts and footwear. A range of extremely
different sizes and foot shapes was involved and it was found
that 75% of shoe last fitted perfectly on the first try while
the remainder needed just minor adjustments to accommodate "fit
Mr. Zerobnick said that we were
no longer limited by geographic location and the vision of a
Digitoe Global Village Network continued to grow. The technology
for making customized shoe lasts and footwear now existed and
a multi-media studio had been set up to produce the education
and training material that would be required to communicate with
the consumer and train staff who would be required to manage
the customized shoe industry of the future.
Mr. Zerobnick thought that the
biggest challenge lay in the education and training "we
must focus our efforts," he said, "on educating the
consumer to the availability and possibilities of the "customization"
that can be achieved by combining Old World Craftsmanship with
Modern Technology to produce shoes.