Shape matters

The shape of the shoes I make reflects the shape and movement of my feet. Most store-bought shoes do not. Almost all modern mass-produced shoes are deforming people’s feet, and most of us don’t realize until it’s too late.

Free toes

My shoes and boots all have a roomy toe area. This turns out to be crucial in completely eliminating the debilitating foot pain I had been experiencing. My toe and forefoot joints can move as nature intended them to: my toes can stay aligned with the relevant bones in the mid part of my foot, whether I am standing or moving. The incipient bunion I was developing has started to shrink and no longer hurts at all.

Black leather calf-high boots with red stitching.
A pair of welted boots photographed just before I finished them in December 2015. Note the large, asymmetrical toe boxes that allow my feet to move naturally, without pushing my toe joints out of alignment

Completely flat, flexible sole

I want my feet to be functional and pain-free my whole life, so I have completely done away with heels. Elevating the heel puts extra stress on the front of the foot, especially on the joints at the base of each toe. Forefoot joints carry more weight in heeled shoes than they do when barefoot, whether standing, walking or running. This extra weight eventually exerts a toll on the joints. Eliminate the heel, reduce the load on the joints.

Blue, green and red leather shoe photographed from the side
Leather casual shoe I made under the supervision of a professional shoemaker in June 2015. Note the complete absence of any heel. However, thanks to the use of lasts and construction methods that involved adhesives, this shoe has a stiff sole and slight toe spring, neither of which is good for natural foot movement. My later lasted shoes (made without synthetic glues) have more flexible soles and little if any toe spring. All my unlasted shoes have completely flat soles.


My shoes are asymmetrical and flat. The longest part of the shoe is to the inside of the center-line of the shoe, reflecting the shape of the foot. Hence, the pattern for making the shoe is different on the inside than the outside of the foot. Designing and assembling highly asymmetrical patterns can take longer and be more expensive than making shoes that are more-or-less symmetrical down the center line… Are we surprised that most commercial footwear goes for the cheaper option?

More on methods of making foot-shaped shoes

A brown leather shoe with a black lace and grey sock
A foot-shaped unlasted shoe I made with no heel and no toe spring

Don’t always believe conventional wisdom

When I consulted a podiatrist about my excruciating toe joint pain, she told me I had arthritis in the joint. She said I would likely need to take painkillers daily for extended periods, and that eventually I would need surgery on the joint. I was shocked at the idea of having to live with chronic pain, and needing serious medical intervention to fix it. So I decided to research the issue and see if I could come up with another solution. To cut a long story short, my feet are pain-free now that I am only wearing shoes which have roomy toe shapes and flat, flexible soles. No drugs. No surgery. Just letting the foot move as naturally as possible.

A pair of beige ankle boots.
A pair of ankle boots made by someone else. Note the toe shape: pretty much symmetrical down the center-line of the shoe. This forces the big toe out of its natural alignment, towards the center-line of the foot. I won’t be wearing footwear with this toe shape!