Sizing Up the Footwear Industry

Who knew that shoes were supposed to fit?

As someone who grew up in the 90’s and had my last shoe fitting at age seven, it’s become clear to me that size does, in fact, matter. Shoes aren’t supposed to hurt.

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Who knew that shoes were supposed to fit?

As someone who grew up in the 90’s and had my last shoe fitting at age seven, it’s become clear to me that size does, in fact, matter. Shoes aren’t supposed to hurt.

But in the era of overseas mass production, finding the perfect fit often takes James Bond-level detective skills, since few stores carry any widths beyond medium. “We built the store on triple, quad and quint combination lasts,” says Vince Cardamon, manager of retail behemoth Reyers, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year (look for our feature in honor of the shop’s birthday in June’s Footwear Plus). The 36,000-square-foot store still carries everything from super-slim (AAAA) to super-wide (EEEE), but it’s getting harder every year as fewer and fewer brands focus on width.

But now, thanks to a new startup called Shoefitr, finding a more perfect size may simply be a matter of using a nifty shoe-scanning device, fit for 007 himself. Aiming to cut down on online shoe returns (which cost retailers more than $600 million in 2008 alone), the application, called Shoefitr, uses a proprietary 3-D imaging technology to match the last of your best-fitting shoe with the closest-fitting size in the shoe you are interested in purchasing (for example, a size 9 in New Balance 883 is a size 10 in Brooks Ravenna). You can find your ideal size and see a 3D model of where the shoe will be tighter or looser. The application is already being used at Running Warehouse, but speculation is high that Amazon (owner of Zappos) might come on board. 

Maybe Shoefitr will spark a sizing revolution and inspire customers to stand up and demand more widths. A girl (with aching feet) can hope.

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