The Left Shoe Company brings a new innovation in men’s shoe buying to Los Angeles, with 3D foot scanning, which measures your feet for the perfect individual fit. I sat down with the brands president, Patrick Mayworm and chairman, Gordon Clune, to find out how this exciting new technology works.
Tod Hallman: So tell me what is the Left Shoe Company?
Gordon Clune: The Left Shoe Company was started by a gentleman, who had a shoe factory in Helsinki Finland. His idea was to have a factory that could make the perfect pair of shoes for your feet with amazing quality in one shot opposed to making hundreds of pairs of shoes in mass quantity.
Patrick Mayworm: Yes, and actually it was the largest shoe manufacture company in Finland.
Hallman: So as part of the process, you do what is called a 3D scan of the feet?
Mayworm: Yes, the machine scans 1000’s of dimensional images of the foot. We use what’s called motion capture technology, using a camera as in film making, that takes 150 photo shots of each foot, which allows us to capture 1000’s of data points of each foot, so that we can create a 3D model of the foot. From that 3D model we are able to capture 15 different key dimensions of each foot that then goes into the manufacturing process to make the best fitting shoe for each foot.
Hallman: So once the scan is done what’s the next step? Does the customer then select from different style shoes and fabric?
Clune: So once your scan is done you actually become part of the design process in the making of your shoe. We work with some of the best Italian designers out of Florence, that use only the finest Italian suede’s and box calf leathers. You can actually customize your shoe to fit your persona or to work with a particular suit or outfit that your having a hard time finding a pair of shoes for, that has the perfect fit.
Hallman: So for those that have never had a shoe custom made or designed for them what’s the turnaround time?
Mayworm: The standard turnaround is six weeks but we’re hoping to reduce the process down to four weeks I’d say within a year. But delivery under a four-week timetable would be difficult because each pair of shoes is handcrafted in Italy, and then shipped directly to the customer’s home here in the US.
Hallman: So once your scan is completed, is the customer able to call and order additional pairs of shoes over the phone without having to visit a boutique?
Mayworm: Yes, once your scan is complete then the next step is to enter your details into our system where an account is generated with a user name and password, making you a member of The Left Shoe Company, which will allow you to then be able to go online and place an order directly. You won’t have to visit a boutique unless you care to be re-scanned or wish to see a particular style or leather in person.
Clune: Or if someone wants to give you a gift, and you tell them that you’re registered with The Left Shoe Company and give them your account details they’ll be able to order you a pair of shoes as well that has the perfect fit.
Hallman: So how many US locations do you currently have?
Mayworm: Actually our LA location is the first US flagship boutique. However we have boutiques in London, Helsinki, Naples, Dubai, Germany and Japan.
Hallman: What would you say has been the response from your customers when they get their first scan done and receive their first pair of shoes?
Mayworm: Well, I think they like the combination of the coolness and technology. I think a lot of guys enjoy that the technology is integrated into the handcraftsmanship of shoes. They like the fact that we’re combining style with convenience as well as fit by bringing all these key components together in one brand.
Clune: Also for me the big wow was when I saw the first scan of my feet on the monitor. I absolutely recognized that those were my feet. Everyone’s feet are unique, from the left to the right. Then the most important thing was that I learned what was a good fit for me. Men have rarely had the opportunity to know what a great fitting shoe feels like. When you buy off the shelf, your lucky if you find different widths, so for me it was a game changer.
Hallman: So what can a guy expect to pay for a pair of custom made shoes from The Left Shoe Company?
Mayworm: Our prices start at $395 and range in price depending on style up to $675.
Hallman: So if a customer came in and wanted to forgo the custom process would you be able to accommodate them with a pair of shoes off the shelf?
Clune: No, we have one shoe on display, the left shoe only, hence the name of our 23 styles that are available in 10 varying color-ways and materials with 6 different sole options for custom design ordering only.
Hallman: So what if over time you find that your shoes need to be resoled or reconditioned?
Mayworm: Well, all of our shoes are Goodyear welted, with a double stitch which means they can be resoled. So if needed we will have local suppliers able to take care of these needs.
Hallman: Do you have plans to open additional US boutiques?
Mayworm: Yes, we have ambitions to go to other cities like New York, but for now we’re focusing on attention on the LA market. www.leftshoecompany.com