When buying a pair of shoes, the ‘look’ is always a key factor. Comfort however, determined by the quality of the footwear, is just as important.
Long before the shoe became a fashion accessory in its own right, it was first and foremost a useful item used to protect the foot, but ended up needing to appeal to the eye before anything else. The advent of ‘wellbeing’ – a major social phenomenon for several seasons now – has brought the focus back to comfort, a real asset for our feet.
A subjective type of comfort
“Nowadays, we don’t talk about sensitive feet and comfort in the same way as we did a few years ago” say staff at Samson, who prefer the term “comfortable shoes”. True, the notion is far more complex and personal than simply the absence of discomfort when the shoe is worn. In other words, the shoe should be so unobtrusive that the wearer forgets it completely. This is what specialists call “comfort of wear” as opposed to “comfort of use”, taking into account both the activity and the lasting absence of fatigue. For them, comfort is a completely logical priority.
This is what “clothes” the foot comfortably, ensuring complete freedom of movement and practical use. To achieve this aim, different parameters should be followed throughout the manufacturing process, beginning with the anatomy and morphology of the foot, which differ according to age and gender. The shoe is then put together on a last to produce the desired fit. The materials used, ideally supple and breathable, are key factors in the achieving a “good shoe”.
Respect the foot, protect the back
The revival and rejuvenation of brands such as Scholl and Geox, clearly show the potential of the “comfort sector”. The target market, well-versed in comfortable fashion, is therefore a lot broader. “Women expect their needs to be met to the letter,” says Emmanuelle Le Borgne, whose young brand Belloe offers “personalised shoes”, and uses a transportable measuring scanner, a first for the footwear industry. She reminds us that this is also true for very active women in their 40s, as “back problems are very often linked to poorly made shoes, for example those that are too arched or too high.”