Assuming you have the cash on hand, it’s easy to shell out thousands of dollars on sneakers to get exactly the style and design you want. (Just ask Marky Mark.) The footwear startup ShiftWear thinks that there’s room to change the way shoes are designed and sold. Instead of buying what big brands have deemed fashionable, you could design your own patterns and emblazon them on the side of your high tops. The company’s slogan? “A sneaker that gives the user complete creative control.”
ShiftWear sneakers feature side panels made from flexible electronic paper—like what’s in an Amazon Kindle—which connects to a smartphone app. Users can illustrate what they’d like to appear on the shoes, apply the design and switch it up whenever they want. The shoes display color images and animation and only draw power when the graphic changes (there’s a battery embedded within the shoe that recharges when you walk, and e-Paper takes only a minuscule amount of power to retain an image in repose). Waterproof up to five meters, the sneakers have Kevlar-coated soles for durability.
Sure, the ShiftWears are no Margielas or Jordans. Moreover, the startup is seeking finding on Indiegogo—pricing is between $150 and $350 a pair depending on how high the tops are—and is still in the prototype phase, so there’s no guarantee that the shoes will ever hit the market. But taken along with the exuberant 3-D printed kicks that have emerged lately, ShiftWear shows yet another creative example of how technology is making customizable fashion attainable, and how sneakers have become the tip of the spear for wearable experimentation.