The Foot Comes First
When it comes to designing shoes, tradition states that the last comes first. This is because the last is most responsible for the overall fit and style of the shoe.
A shoe last is a plastic (or wooden) mold upon which a shoe is built. Each last is designed for a particular heel height, toe shape, and type of footwear.
In most cases, the shape of the last does not take into consideration the foot's actual shape or function. High heels, narrow, pointy toe boxes and stiff materials all contribute to a detrimental design.
In fact, this is the reason that I started ICANCHU. After hurting my back playing football, I could not find a pair of dress shoes that were comfortable. The heels and narrow toe boxes left my ankles, knees an back thoroughly unimpressed.
For ICANCHU, our minimalist approach to shoe design has meant developing a last that does not have a heel, has a wider toe box and has a reduced toe spring. In other words, the last couple of years have been spent we have incorporating what Mike Friton is talking about.
But athletic shoes are a different animal from dress and casual designs. Because leather is not as forgiving as mesh or other knitwear fabrics, there is a balance that you have to find. We strive to design lasts that are functional and foot-friendly without awkwardly standing out as goofy looking. Believe it or not, this is easier said than done.
Regardless, as we continue to work on new minimalist designs, you can be confident that foot will come first.