MILAN — Wearing high heels can now only be associated with pleasure, care of Gait-Tech.
The Italian company is introducing a device integrated into the insole of high-heeled shoes during the manufacturing stage, without compromising the footwear design and style, explained general director Alice Carli in an exclusive interview.
The patented biomechanical device is so innovative that Gait-Tech is one of the 300 finalists out of the more than 4,000 projects presented by 173 countries at the Unveiled event to be held during CES Las Vegas on Tuesday. The international tech event runs from Thursday to Jan. 8.
“After 30 years of research, this is the first biomech disruption in fashion for human health. Until now, many brands have developed after-market solutions that can be applied directly on the shoe or the foot, without going to the root of the problems,” explained Carli, who leverages almost two decades of experience in the fashion industry. She was previously chief executive officer of L’Autre Chose, head of global marketing and business development for the U.S. and Asia at Peuterey, and, before that, global strategic marketing executive at Furla.
“The device consists of specific and differentiated support surfaces for each single metatarsal head. High heels place all of the wearer’s weight on the front of the foot, placing extreme pressure on the ends of the metatarsal bones and the joints between the toes and feet, increasing the risk of stress fractures and neuromas, among other possible injuries,” Carli continued.
Gait-Tech’s biomechanical device redistributes pressure on the ground, cushioning the impact, providing a healthier and more stable gait, she claimed. It replaces the current insoles, which are already present in the manufacturing process of any shoe and will be made available to fashion brands.
To further emphasize the fashion element of the project, footwear designer Diego Dolcini has been appointed creative director. Dolcini has built a reputation over the years, helming the footwear department at Gucci under former creative director Tom Ford and working at Emilio Pucci, Narciso Rodriguez, Vionnet and Balmain, among others, and creating designs for the likes of Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Madonna and Beyoncé.
Dolcini will be in charge of a capsule collection that will include the Gait-Tech device, which will bow for spring 2023. “I admitted at first I was a bit skeptical, but then I realized this device, which is made of recycled polymer, didn’t touch the aesthetics and it’s really revolutionary,” Dolcini enthused. “Often technology is seen as ugly applied to fashion but this does not change the style of a shoe. The device offers comfort and balance, better cushioning and less pain and you don’t see it.”
“It’s at the service of the well-being of people,” Carli chimed in. “The project has allowed defining, with extreme precision, different parameters and algorithms that, according to the heel height, size or shape of the feet, create the best support to place the foot most fittingly and naturally. The device also brings advantages on the vascular and muscular systems even after a day in heels. It’s technically flexible for all heels and feet shapes and can thus be used on men’s shoes, too.”
Carli noted that the women’s footwear market amounts to 61.8 million pairs for a value of more than 3.8 billion euros, of which about half of them are high-heeled shoes.
Both Carli and Dolcini praised the doctors and researchers behind Gait-Tech, which was cofounded by Andrea Goldoni, who is also the chief executive officer; Marcello Benetti, head of legal; Stefano Caiumi, global R&D, and orthopedic and prosthesis expert Simone Marchesini.
The Made in Italy device received an official certificate from Roberto Bevoni MD from the Orthopedic Institute Rizzoli Bologna, and has earned an international patent from the official Italian Office of Patents and Trademarks — Ministry for Economic Development.
In 2021 and 2022, Gait-Tech earned an award as best disruptive start-up from the European Fund for Regional Development of both the European Union and Italy.