“How are other brands using SmartLast for footwear development?” is one of the most commonly asked questions from brands when they see SmartLast for the first time. This post shares the details on how you can use the fast and accurate shoe fit feedback from SmartLast to improve your own product development.
During product development every brand gets fit feedback, because we all know how important this is to the consumer. Most brands still rely on subjective feedback which takes a long time to collect, is inconsistent, and does not produce data that can be utilized in future product comparison. If you want to answer a simple question, like, “Which Last is More Comfortable?” or “Which Upper Pattern Do Our Customer’s Prefer?”, it’s difficult to trust subjective feedback or get an answer quickly.
SmartLast solves this problem by getting accurate, consistent, and fast fit data that will answer your product development questions. Here’s a few examples of how brands have used SmartLast:
Comparing the fit of a New Last to a Current Last:
This testing is a great way to start off using SmartLast. While it is easy to measure and compare lasts, it is challenging to compare how these measurements change what your customer feels when they buy your shoes. SmartLast testing two similar upper patterns made on different lasts is a quick, easy, and effective way to determine (a) if the fit pressures changed and (b) if the change is large enough for your customer to perceive. And the data is EASY to understand. If you look at the color-coded fit pressure scores in the example below, Last B has a looser fit in the medial and lateral heel, which you can see due to the blue color bars. So these lasts fit identically in the forefoot, but there is a perceivable difference in the fit of the heel.
Assessing how different Upper Materials and Patterns change fit:
We know that the “Last Comes First”, but that adage was made up many decades ago. With modern constructions favoring flexible, stretchable materials like knits and wovens, customers are telling us that shoes built on the same last but with different upper materials or patterns don’t fit the same. Analyzing these changes with traditional fit and wear testing is difficult. SmartLast enables you to quickly assess the difference that upper materials or upper patterns make. In the example below, we compare two hiking boots that were built on the same last. One has a waterproof barrier added to the construction and the other does not. The non-waterproof shoe fits looser around the medial forefoot (1st MTP joint) and big toe and has much longer length in front of the toes.
Determining the fit measurements that best represent what their Customers want:
A major project that brands using SmartLast are tackling is developing a consistent fit standard for their customers. If your customer buys a women’s US8.5 in one of your styles, they should find that US8.5 fits them best for all of your styles! This is easier said than done when you’re relying on subjective feedback. Below is an example from a brand that has worked with SmartLast for their upcoming seasons.
In this first set of samples, there is horrible fit consistency between the styles in the forefoot, toes, and length.
In the subsequent round of samples, the fit consistency is much better between all styles!
Analyzing the fit of Factory Transfers:
I’ll be honest–there was not a single request for a SmartLast test on shoes from factory transfers in the first half of 2021. That changed in September 2022 when it became one of the top requests for testing. This is a big problem for brands as we emerge from the covid-19 pandemic and footwear brands are forced to change their factories to meet production numbers. While we have seen examples where a factory transfer did not produce any changes in the fit of a shoe, these are rare and in these cases the brand wanted confirmation that the shoes fit the same. SmartLast makes assessment of factory transfers easy. In the example below 2 factories produced this top-selling shoe very differently. While both versions receive the same “color” ranking, the forefoot and toe box fit pressure differences are large enough that a customer could feel the difference in the two shoes. Luckily we figured this difference out in less than 1 minute and were able to make changes before the new factory shipped product.
In summary, SmartLast is available to make footwear product development easier. If you’re interested in learning more about SmartLast and setting up a complementary demonstration, please contact [email protected].