Laces and Footwear Design

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. In 1789, when President Washington named Thursday, November 26th a "Day of Publick Thanksgivin," contemporaries wore shoe buckles. Then, in 1790, Harvey Kennedy patented the modern shoelace; buckles moved to the back burner, and a fifty-billion dollar shoelace industry was born.

Like any sticky fashion trend, form and function are a powerful duo. No footwear tying invention has surpassed laces in the past 2.5 centuries. This is cool, but it's not surprising. Fitting footwear to your feet is a simple problem, and laces meet this with a simple solution. It's also not surprising that shoelace design (colorings, graphics, patterns) are an important canvass for modern sneakers.

What is surprising is that the way we tie our shoelaces has not become a branding platform for modern shoe companies. One would think that the design of our footwear would continue all the way through the lacing process and that this would be an intentional concept within the design of a new shoe.

Why don't design companies treat the lacing process the same way they treat the silhouette or the material selection?

Brandon Cohn