National

Custom shoe shops put customers in charge of footwear design

by Satoshi Toi

Kyodo

Great news for “affishoenados.” Picky shoe shoppers can now design their own dream footwear using services that let them choose colors and materials.

Kibera, which operates outlets mainly in Tokyo, sells women’s shoes for ¥9,900 plus tax which are fully customizable for shape and color.

A customer visits the store, where a clerk uses an advanced 3-D scanning system to measure the length, width and shape of the feet. The customer then chooses from 24 combinations of colors and materials, and 20 different designs.

“In conventional marketing, customers had to fit their feet to ready-made shoes,” Kibera President Tomoyuki Fukutani said. “Our service made it possible to tailor shoes that fit a customer’s feet for a reasonable price, and we hope this will become more common.”

Once an order is placed, the shoes are made at a domestic factory and are delivered at no charge to the customer in three weeks’ time. The customer can even return them within two weeks of receipt.

“It’s great that I was able to get custom-made heels that no longer hurt my feet, at only ¥10,000,” said a 23-year-old public servant from Kumamoto who was shopping at the Kibera Ginza Core store in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Kibera also offers shoes for people whose feet differ in size.

Kibera launched its first shop in Tokyo’s Shinjuku area in August 2012 and currently runs a total of nine shops in Tokyo and Yokohama. It aims to increase the figure to 50 over the next three years.

Meanwhile, Shoes of Prey Pty., a Sydney-based shoe tailor operating in nine countries, lets customers design their own shoes on the Internet.

After choosing from 12 different types of shoes such as high heels, flats, sandals or boots, a customer can model shoes in a 3-D image on a computer screen by choosing the color and pattern as well as the height and width.

More than 170 colors and materials are available including soft leather, snakeskin, suede and silk. A customer can also add decorations such as ribbons or straps.

The overall price differs depending on the design and materials, but the average comes in at around ¥20,000, about half the price of other custom-made shoes, says Shoes of Prey.

The customer will receive the shoes in about a month and they can be returned or fixed within 30 days.

“With our various designs and colors, myriad combinations are available,” said an official at Bracket Inc., a Tokyo-based venture which operates the Japanese-language Shoes of Prey shopping site.

“Since one factory deals with all orders from around the world, we have realized an efficient, low-cost service,” the official said.