As of late, the luxury footwear industry has taken an interesting turn; stepping down the path of Custom heels. This first came to my attention a few years back when I was living in London and was speaking with the Giuseppe Zanotti team on Sloane Street. A lovely employee by the name of Alena was kind enough to explain that Giuseppe Zanotti Design will create a “special request” shoe for individual sale/clientele. The process was very luxurious as one would bring personal sketches and ideas and meet with a design consultant to bring a personal shoe design into fruition (marked as a Giuseppe Zanotti design of course, the individual will not receive design credit). Making a bespoke, one of a kind Italian manufactured heel came with a shiny price tag too. The idea and the process had “couture” written all over it.
Fast forward a few years and many more brands have followed suit. Although now, to reach a wider audience, restrictions are in place. Prada, Manolo Blahnik, and Stuart Weitzman, (to name a few) have launched into the Custom footwear category at a record pace. With a click of a button, one can visit Bergdorf Goodman online and design a personal Manolo or Stuart Weitzman by choosing select styles, materials, shoe size, and width. The options are extremely limited (give or take five styles to choose from, usually pertaining to a pump of various heel height) but give the air of a personal mark. Prada (for a limited time only) will even give the customer color options for the shoe box.
We will be able to find out in the near future if custom heels help or hinder the design quality and originality of a brand. One thing is for certain, a new era of shoe design and marketing is well underway.