Four years ago, kids’ shoe startup Plae entered the market in a big way. The shoes–designed by founder Ryan Ringholz, former lead designer at Puma–were quickly embraced by kids in the celebrity set. (The Afflecks and Kutchers are fans.)
When Ringholz had kids, he wanted to use his experience to design shoes that actually met the anatomical needs of children, whose bones have not yet set and whose foot structures are still developing. Having spent his entire career designing shoes, he felt that kids were a very specialized consumer that had been underserved by the market. “It’s a dark truth of the shoe industry that we don’t focus on kids enough,” Ringholz says. “But if kids don’t have the right support, it can lead to all kinds of orthopedic issues later on. So designing for their feet is a fascinating challenge.”
Since Plae launched, the company has heard from parents whose children have sized out of junior sizes, so today, it is launching adult shoes. The new sneakers are sleek, with interesting geometric design features, plus some tech components, like an alternative lacing system and sole that you can adapt to your personal preferences. Plae has also launched an open-source insole design system that will allow users to 3D print soles that are adapted to the curvature of their particular foot. “No two feet are the same,” Ringholz. “That’s why athletes all have custom shoes made for them.”
Plae has been growing fast. In March, the brand expects to sell its one millionth shoe. To celebrate this achievement, they will be awarding the customer who makes this purchase with a year’s worth of shoes.