Over the past few years, I’ve been tracking the quest to invent a more comfortable high heel, including efforts from startups like Sarah Flint, Marion Parke, and Antonia Saint to redesign the stiletto. A more established player, heritage brand Cole Haan, has taken another step forward to make a better heel. Today, the brand launches a new shoe collection aptly called Grand Ambition that is the result of a collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Biomechanics Lab. The key to the shoe’s comfort comes down to an anatomical molded footbed that is designed to redistribute weight as a woman walks and reduce pressure on the ball of the foot.
Scott Patt, Cole Haan’s chief creative officer, says the brand was focused on incorporating this comfort into shoes women actually wanted to wear, and this involved some anthropological research. “We started by looking at a woman’s closet,” he says. “What she wears, how she wears it, and when she wears it.”
The brand then set out to create shoes that looked identical to the shoes women were already wearing but with reengineered interiors. The new collection has several 75-mm heels, including one with a snakeskin print and another with a silver colorblock, as well as heeled booties. These heels have two layers of cushioning on the insole, from the heel to toe, as well as cushioning on the outsole. There are also flats and Oxfords in the new line that are also engineered for comfort.