Part 5: List of 3 Technologies for Customizing Shoes
'Mass personalization' is fast becoming popular, and is essential for brands to stay current in an era where customers are demanding more custom products. Through new technologies like custom cycling shoes and custom ski boots and compression clothing the luxury athletic and sports markets are facing this challenge by providing better offerings for customers whilst increasing their bottom line and improving customer loyalty.
A further outline of these technologies is available below.
CUSTOM CYCLING FOOTWEAR
While the luxury goods market is experiencing a decline in growth, cycling is one specific area which has experienced significant growth in recent years. Cycling has also been ahead of the curve somewhat in the high end customized shoe market, with manufacturer Bont producing heat moldable carbon fiber shoes since 1974. Currently, the company uses advanced techniques like laser scanning to get an image of a customers feet to create the perfect fitting shoe. Customers can then perform their own heat molding in their oven at home to further fine tune the fit as their foot shape changes over time. Other cycling brands are following the trend of custom shoe design, with Lake, Luck, Sidi and Specialized all offering some form of customization. It was not possible to find revenue data for Bont (as it is a private company), but with a production of over 200 pairs per week of their most high end shoes it is clear there is demand for the product. Cycling has certainly increased in popularity with investors, as premium fashion-conscious label Rapha was recently sold for 200 million GBP to private equity firm RZC Investments.
CUSTOM FIT SKI BOOTS
Like cycling, skiing is part of the luxury sports market, with high end ski boots costing up to $825 USD. Furthermore, the market for luxury ski holidays and apparel is increasing markedly. While some companies make completely custom boots built to fit the customer's foot from the start, others have an automated process whereby the boot is manufactured in a way that allows customization through a vacuum or heat molding processes during the fitting stage at the point of purchase. Ski boot sales in the US have increased significantly, with a rise from 213 million USD in 2013 to 248 million USD in 2016. Globally, Amer Sports (who own several luxury ski brands including Salomon) reported footwear and apparel sales of around 1 billion EUR in 2016. With most brands offering some form of customization, it is expected that the market share of customized ski boots will continue to grow.
Compression technology "applies increased pressure on certain areas of the body to support blood flow." It is build into sporting apparel including shirts and shorts, in order to support athletic performance. Compression clothing is said to increase joint awareness, improve perfusion, increase muscle oxygenation, increase skin temperatures, decrease concentrations of cratine kinase, decrease perception of fatigue, decrease in-post-exercise edema, increase removal of waste products, increase local blood flow, decrease perception of delayed onset of muscle soreness and decrease muscle oscillations.
Norma Tech uses this technology in boots and other athletic wear to improve athletic performance. NormTec Technology uses three key components to maximize recovery in athletes: pulsing, gradients and distal release. "The NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern starts in the foot, hand, or lower hip and moves upwards zone-by-zone massaging the limb and mobilizing fluid out of the extremities."
In conclusion, three major technologies used by the athletic and luxury sports industries to provide personalization of shoes and other athletic wear are custom carbon fiber cycling shoes, custom vacuum fit/heat moldable ski boots and compression clothing.