This is the Back To The Future of footwear. Shoes that are precision printed to mould to your feet.
WIIV are the only 3D printed footwear brand around – but they are the only 3D footwear brand who sent me shoes to review.
Actually it came at a very opportune moment. I have foot problems, you see. I hit 30 and they literally started falling apart. Wide feet with deep toes and collapsing arches, Morton’s Neuroma, hallux limitus. You name it, my feet have it. Except bunions, it seems (I was very surprised to find out that what I thought was a common garden bunion was in fact hallux limitus, really just another form of deformity).
It’s really difficult to find the proper answer to foot problems, but proper footwear. It’s really galling to realise that at least half of your problems are caused by inappropriate footwear in the first place.
So I hit 34 and was prescribed orthotics. Thankfully I’m not a shoe person really, because that’s surely every shoe-lover’s worst nightmare. These orthotics (which I have since abandoned but they did their job at the time) are fine for boots and sneakers, but what about sandals??
I basically live in sandals until frost is forming on the ground.
As if right on cue, I received an e-mail from WIIV offering me a pair of sandals to try. And not just any old sandals, but 3D printed sandals with custom arch support. Hallelujah.
I promptly installed the app and got going. The app is very well designed (obviously a considerable amount of money has been put into it) and all you really need to do is create your account and then take, as prompted, several photos of your feet from different angles to create a digital scan. I had a few issues getting my scans to upload, but apart from that I was very impressed.
And what of the sandals themselves?
You can choose from several colours of sole and upper. I went for a dark brown sole with tan leather upper – classic colours that I can wear with anything. At first I had one squeaky shoe but this seems to have disappeared, and overall. I’m impressed with the look and feel. These are well-made sandals – as you would expect from the price.
The custom arch support takes some getting used to if you’re not used to wearing orthotics, which I wasn’t. The material is quite hard compared to most foot insole fabric. Although they were comfortable to wear around the house, I wasn’t convinced I’d find my WIIVs comfortable enough for long walks.
However, recently I’ve been using them more and more. In fact, the longer I have them the more I love them.
Still, if I’m planning on walking for more than 15 minutes then I’ll reach for a proper pair of sandals. Because one thing I’ve learned from my many foot problems is that flip flops are not ideal footwear for long term use (it’s due to the scrunching motion that your toes have to do to lift the foot).
So far the only WIIV options available are for flip-flops (thongs) or insoles.
But I really hope that this is just the beginning (custom footwear is what my dreams are made of). Because WIIVs with better strap configurations would be amazeballs.
Final verdict? If you need orthotic support and miss wearing sandals then these are a great option. If you walk lots then it might be worth holding out for different designs.