Shoe Outcome

Heeluxe’s Biggest Failures

September 27, 2022

Not every shoe is going to perform well in the marketplace. At Heeluxe we’ve tested 1000s of prototype shoes. Here’s a list of the biggest failures to come out of our lab and what you can do to avoid a similar fate.

Shoe Failure #1: This is the Most Popular Last
This failure has happened multiple times and in multiple shoe categories (especially running and occupational safety shoes). A brand that has experienced bad fit reviews from their customers will send us a new style built on a new last. And this last is a copy of the “most popular” last on the market. And this new sample fits like crap. Despite this bad fit data, the brand releases the shoe and customers hate it.
How to Avoid This Failure: If you copy a last, copy the other features of the shoe like the upper materials, insole thickness and type, and construction type. And listen to your testing lab and fit/wear test team when they provide fit data that doesn’t match your brand’s fit.

Shoe Failure #2: Sandals Don’t Work like Shoes
In the early days of Heeluxe, we were naïve to think that we could make the best “wellness sandal” by copying the most average custom orthotics. This strategy was a total failure. Orthotics sit on top of a strobel and typically have a plastic shell, whereas sandals are made completely of foam. In the orthotic sandals the heel and ball of the foot would sink into the foam, effectively raising the height of the orthotic an uncomfortable amount. Overall—an uncomfortable product that should have never been released.
How to Avoid This Failure: What works in a shoe may not work in a sandal. Focus on how sandals work and design unique features for them. Heeluxe has new sensors to measure the arch pressure to make sure your arch support is the right shape and hardness.

Shoe Failure #3: A Few Last-Minute Changes
As an unbiased, independent testing lab, Heeluxe needs to provide clear and constructive feedback about the prototypes we are testing for our clients. A novel design was tested back in 2011 and the first-round samples were amazing. However, the features of this sample were not cohesive with the “trends” in this footwear category at the time. The brand made last minute changes without consulting their internal fit team or Heeluxe’s scientists. They integrated the trendy features of the time which did not complement their new technology and the production shoe was garbage. We still wonder what could have happened if the first version of the shoe made it to market…
How to Avoid This Failure: Heeluxe—or any other testing lab—has the responsibility to tell you exactly what about your shoe is working and what modifications should optimize the design. If changes are going to be made after a prototype round, have a meeting with designers, fit/wear, and testing labs to ensure the modifications improve the product and not ruin it.

At Heeluxe we’ve helped a lot of brands “Make Better Shoes”. We’d love to help your brand, too. When you’re ready to have more market success with your products, we’d love to hear from you at