When choosing shoes what do you look for? Style, size, suitability, durability? There are many factors and considerations to be made, ultimately, you need to find what is best for your feet.
Advancements in technology, both in design and manufacturing mean that today we are living in the golden age of comfort when it comes to shoes. Using various materials, fetes of engineering and technology, your feet are better equipped to deal with thousands of different scenarios.
Providing extra comfort, grip and support. With properties such as breathable, waterproof or extra protection, shoes really have seen major advancements, just in the last thirty years.
The materials our shoes are manufactured from have played the biggest part in the advances seen over the last thirty years.
Almost certainly, the most popular material is leather, in fact some of the first documented shoes were made of just that. Still to this day, leather regularly used by shoemakers.
Alternatives have been developed though, and with a combination of plastics, leathers, rubber and fabric, innovative alternatives are now commonplace in the market. The most significant impact these alternatives have is usually related to waterproofing and breathability.
The balance between breathable and waterproof was always a conundrum for shoemakers. Polished leathers and plastics of course provided a waterproof upper. But without holes for which to allow your feet to breathe, they quickly become clammy and uncomfortable.
With technology such as Gore-Tex and Clarks’ own C-Shell, shoes can be developed to be both waterproof and breathable. Whereas shoes were generally one or the other, these membranes remain water resistant whilst also allowing water vapour and heat to escape.
The result is dry feet, and dry feet are comfy feet. With less sweat built up in the shoe and no water getting in, your shoes can remain at optimum comfort throughout the day. This greatly decreases the chance of rubbing, blisters or fungal infection.
Insole & Midsoles
Supporting your weight and positioned directly below your feet, the insole and midsole provide both comfort and support. Generally moulded from foam, the midsole provides absorption, cushioning and flex support whilst the insole should allow your feet to breath.
Finding a balance between these necessary properties has been the goal of scientists, engineers and of course shoemakers for many years. Keeping appropriate levels of comfort and support were the Ying and Yang to be balanced in this department, and again, technological advances came to the rescue.
High rebound foams come in varied densities and are used most commonly in furniture such as sofas, and of course memory foam mattresses. Denser variants can now also be found in the midsoles of your shoes.
Clarks’ CUSHionPlus focuses on pressure points in the feet, anatomically targeting areas more susceptible to the strain of a day on your feet. In supporting the biomechanics of your feet, the technology reduces strain, and maximises comfort.
CUSHionSoft uses high rebound foam to increase absorption, cushioning the impact of your steps. Taking the shock out of your step helps keep the intricacies of your feet, but also your ankles, knees and hips healthier.
When it comes to the outer sole, it’s all about grip. Increasing friction between your feet and the floor helps keep you firmly grounded. For certain activities, such as hiking or even climbing, a good grip, with specially designed outer soles will be imperative to your safety.
The balance to be found at the base, is between grip and durability. Using hiking boots as an example, the soles of the boots come under much more intense activity than say, loafers for lounging around on a day off.
For this reason, the longevity of the outer sole must be optimised, whilst also keeping its grip as firm as possible. Clarks’ Rock Engineered Rubber uses abrasion resistant rubber to achieve just that.
These high-performance soles provide grip using the high friction properties of rubber, as well as carefully engineered lumps and bumps. As an abrasion resistant rubber, the sole is much less susceptible to the impacts of hard-wearing activities, meaning they last longer and maintain maximum grip.
AquaDX is another technology developed by Clarks to help keep your feet firmly on the ground, particularly when boating or working in water. Traditionally, water escapes a boat shoe through the sole. This poses a danger to those on precarious surfaces, as the water reduces friction between sole and surface.
By allowing the water to drain out of ducts at the side of the soles, AquaDX sees water quickly expel away from the flats of the sole. Keeping grip to a maximum, this technology vastly reduces the risk of slipping or falling.You can click here to see a run down of all the technology Clarks use, in our shoes.