Observations by Frank Giannino

The Shoe Industry Today

The Footwear Industry has never been more exciting than it is today, whether you are designing footwear, working in a shoe factory or in retail. Fashion is the number one reason consumers purchase footwear. It has always been this way. Today's buyers, however, more than ever before, wants comfort too, so they can live more comfortably and perform better. What matters the most to me as a shoe-fitter is that the shoe offers three main features: a comfortable quality upper and quality outsole that features the right amount of "Drop", and removable shoe insert. The quality upper should have a fastener that insures the heel is seated well in the shoe. Preferably the fastener is a quality pair of shoe laces.

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The History of Shoes

Mankind throughout history has worn shoes to protect the feet. This basic need is still the main reason we wear shoes. Protective footwear dates back to the earliest known sandals in 8,000 BC. Along the way, fashion has been the biggest influence on how shoes are made and how they look. From one culture to another, through all of history, fashion has had, and still has, a great deal to do with how the shoes are made.

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The Evolution of Shoes

My first pair of running shoes in spring 1967 had a gum rubber outsole and a black canvas upper. I was a high school freshman. The shoes were a joke! Prior to that pair, I was running in Converse Chuck Taylor high tops. Rubber soled shoes first appeared in 1876 in the UK. By the time I began running competitively in high school in 1967, running shoes had not improved much. They caused my legs to ache, especially my shins.

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The Running Specialty Store Concept

In my view, the Running Specialty store concept began in the 1970’s.  Specialty running stores carry medium to high end merchandise and provide a high level of service and expertise.   Some stores use cad cam technology and treadmill and video tape analysis to assist their customers with a shoe purchase.  Other stores use a more personal hands-on approach to fitting.  Many of these approaches to fitting shoes are proprietary.  Some running stores are single stores and others are part of a chain. 

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