By Sandy Cosser
Shoes are basic functional items. They protect and cushion your feet, serve as shock absorbers when running and leaping, and they are decorative. Despite this basic functionality, designers have focussed on innovative ways to make them more interesting, and with more practical applications than ever before. They have even turned to science fiction literature and films for inspiration.
In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly wore a pair of Nikes that laced themselves and had built-in lights. Since then, millions of fans have petitioned Nike to create a working model of what has been called, The McFly Shoe. Up until now limited technology made it impossible for Nike to respond to the demand. Current developments, however, have enabled them to create the first McFly prototypes. Nike is keeping silent on the matter, so the success of and possible release dates for the anticipated sneakers are still mere speculation.
Not to be left behind, Reebok have also come up with a novelty shoe that is guaranteed to appeal to the sensory sensitive among us. By teaming up with Kool-Aid, they have created sneakers that give off the fruity aromas of grape, cherry or strawberry. The colour of the shoes reflects the flavour, which means that you can step out in aromatic style in vivid purple, bright pink, or classic red.
For those who want the option of self-expression in their footwear, a transparent Bubble Shoe has just hit the market. The Bubble is made up of 2 layers of vapour, permeable but waterproof silicon plastic. The core feature of the shoes is that the wearer has complete style control by choosing the type of hosiery worn with them. These are not for those who like their socks plain and white, or business black. They are suited to people who like to express themselves in their manner of dress and who will take maximum advantage of the transparency by investing in unique, somewhat loud socks and stockings.
The health conscious have not been forgotten in the quest for creative footwear. In an attempt to combat increasing levels of childhood obesity and the growing coach potato culture, a shoe has been designed that records the activity of children. It then allocates a certain amount of TV time based on activity levels and switches the television off once that time has expired. The goal of 12,000 steps a day for girls and 15,000 for boys, may seem unreasonably high, but is in fact the minimum that's deemed necessary for an average active child. The concept is a godsend for all parents concerned about increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Science fiction inspired designs, novelty flavoured shoes, and shoes designed for healthy lifestyles all contribute to footwear entering a new niche market: that of innovation merging with fashion. With new technological advancements being made virtually everyday, it must only be a matter of time before we see the gravity-defying boots from Star Trek V: The Search for the Final Frontier.