Anyone who’s ever taken so much as a step in high heels knows the familiar feeling: the pressure on the ball of your foot, the pain in your toe bones, and the vibration up your foot with every step you take.
Even people that say they love wearing heels can’t claim they’re actually comfortable.
That’s what inspired Dolly Singh, a former Oculus and SpaceX executive, to reinvent the high heel.
“To me, when you’re surrounded by some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the biggest and most badass machines on this world, the idea that my shoes are such crap became really obnoxiously unbearable,” Singh told Business Insider in 2015.
Singh founded Thesis Couture in 2013 and started working with astronauts, orthopaedic surgeons, MIT alumni, and Italian shoemakers to design a more comfortable stiletto.
The first result of those efforts is the Olympus One, a $US900 gladiator-style sandal that’s, hands-down, the most comfortable high heel I’ve ever worn.
Goodbye, metal. Hello, plastic.
I should say off the bat that I don’t often wear any sort of high heels.
Sure, I wear them to fancy events or nice dinners, but those occasions are few and far between. Even though I’m relatively short, I can rarely convince myself that it’s worth it to suffer through a night of wearing heels — especially in a city full of subway grates, cracked footpaths, and lots and lots of walking.
But all of those complaints made me even more excited to test out the Olympus One shoes. They’re billed as having an entirely new internal technology that helps balance your weight across the entire foot, not just on your toes, and they’re intended to minimise the impact shock that occurs every time your foot strikes the ground.
To do this, Thesis had to start with the internal technology of the shoe. The company says it uses ballistic-grade polymers on the inside — so, plastic. For reference, the inside of typical high heels has a long metal rod called a shank. Thesis replaced that with a plastic version that interlocks with the high heel and the place where your toes sit, called the toe box.
The company says that in most heels, 80% of your weight sits on your toe bones — the design of the Thesis shoes is meant to help redistribute the weight more evenly.
Comfortable heels — for a price
I noticed the design change as soon as I put them on my feet. The Olympus One shoes have much more arch support than typical high heels, and I immediately felt like my weight was being supported by my heel and midfoot rather than the ball of my foot.
Walking in them felt much like typical high heels, although they stayed on my foot much better. That could be attributed more to the design of the exterior than anything else, though — the shoes lace up your foot much like a sneaker and then tie around your ankle.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to wear them dancing or even for several hours at a time. Most of my tests consisted of walking short distances and I never wore them for an entire day. But in my short time with them, I was very impressed. Usually when I put on heels, they hurt the ball of my left foot instantaneously, thanks to some scar tissue there from when I was younger. The Olympus One shoes put so little pressure on that part of my foot, I felt comfortable in heels for maybe the first time ever.
Plus, the shoes are stylish. I tried the black and gunmetal pair, but they also come in nude and copper, and both pairs are made out of Italian leather. When I showed them to a colleague, her immediate response was, “They are REALLY cute.”
But they will cost you: $US900, to be exact.
Thesis Couture is launching the Olympus One shoes to the public on April 4. You can learn more about them and sign up to pre-order them on the company’s website.