Friday, 3 February 2017

THE DANGEROUS BUSINESS OF LEATHER

It isn’t difficult to sell a cow hide here,” a Dalit man tells me, bent over the carcass. The small field in which he stands is just off the main road, hidden by a thicket of wiry trees. The smell is overwhelming. Dogs prowl around, waiting for the skinless carcass to be abandoned. The man stands up, his white shirt unblemished from the messy work. My fixer taps my shoulder: “We need to go, it isn’t safe to be here for very long.”

The cow died the night before, hit by a car on the unlit roads of the outskirts of Kanpur. In the morning, someone from the Hindu neighborhood where the cow’s body was found called a government agency who sent the Dalit man to remove the body. Dalits are traditionally the caste responsible for the handling of dead animals. In Kanpur, a city in the north of India, the government employs them in waste management and roadkill clean-up. They skin the animals in private fields and sell the hides to local tanneries.
But Hindu nationalism is on the rise in India, making it increasingly difficult for them to do their job. This summer, in the nearby city of Lucknow, two Dalits were attacked by cow vigilantes for doing exactly that. “Do I worry?” says the man skinning the carcass, unwilling to give me his name because of safety concerns. “Yes, I worry. This is why I do things quietly, in quiet places. This is my job, it is not illegal. But still, I worry.”

Since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014, the protection of the Indian cow has taken on a new level of intensity. While never explicitly advocating for a ban on tanneries, many feel that Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party are discouraging processing cattle.
In Kanpur, a city of 2.7 million people, it is illegal to slaughter a cow. Carcasses of animals that have died naturally, however, can be brought to the numerous tanneries, which are mostly owned by Muslims. Mohammed Shahav, a Muslim leather exporter from Kanpur, says that he is worried about a growing sentiment in India: that cows should be protected above people. “People are very afraid,” he says. “And our business is suffering.”

The city of Kanpur, which is 20 percent Muslim, feels like a pressure cooker. “It hasn’t happened here yet, but we watch it happen around the country. The government has supported those who murdered that man in Dadri,” says Shahav, referring to the farm worker who was killed by a mob in 2015 over rumors that his family had been storing and consuming beef at home.Kanpur’s leather sector brings in about a billion dollars a year in export earnings. When interviewed, most tannery owners explain they only work with water buffalo hide. A few, who prefer to remain nameless, say they use hides from cows that have died naturally or that have been shipped from overseas—cows without Indian blood are not considered sacred.

Qazi Naiyer Jamal, general secretary of the Small Tanners Association of Kanpur, can talk for hours about the intricacies of this issue. A Muslim himself, he says he feels no animosity from the Hindu population of Kanpur, but adds that he has firsthand experience with cow vigilantes. “People love leather belts,” he says, “but hate the people who make them.”
http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2017/the-dangerous-business-of-leather/

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Women’s footwear without back strap is sandal, not chappal: High Court

A woman’s footwear without a back strap is a sandal, the Delhi High Court has ruled opposing the government’s contention that it was a ‘chappal’. The issue assumed significance as the export of sandals attract a 10 per cent customs duty drawback, while that of ‘chappals’ attracted only five per cent duty. The government had withdrawn a 10 per cent duty drawback given to a footwear manufacturer saying the footwear exported by it were ‘chappals’ as these did not have back strap. The Delhi High Court, while ruling that these were sandals, quashed the government’s decision. Disagreeing with the government’s view, a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Najmi Waziri ruled, “The respondents (Centre and the Revenue Department), in our opinion, acted upon prejudice and a preconceived notion that ladies sandals cannot be without a back strap”.
It said in view of the totality of circumstances, “this court is of the opinion that the impugned orders, upholding duty drawback withdrawal and imposing penalty cannot be sustained. They are hereby quashed”.
The court said that an expert body, Council of Leather Exports which routinely dealt with such issues in context of export, had, based on evidence and instructions of government, furnished an opinion that goods were sandals and not chappals.
It also said there was no evidence to hold that the Council’s opinion was insufficient.
“Apart from these, the court wonders whether any of the experts in this case was a woman, the ultimate customer. In such cases, the commercial parlance test would predominate,” the bench observed.
The court’s order came on a plea by Chennai-based footwear manufacturer, Wishall International, challenging the government’s position that a woman’s footwear without a back strap was a chappal and not a sandal.
The firm in May 2003 had filed a shipping bill to export the consignment declared as “ladies leather sandals” claiming 10 per cent customs duty drawback. The Customs Department here, however, had said the export consignment were chappals.
The company, however, had sought opinion from the Council of Leather Exports which had cleared the export consignment as sandals.
But the Customs department approached the Council that sought the opinion of Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), which ruled that the products were chappals.
Following this, the Customs served a show-cause notice on the company, demanding recovery of the drawback already paid at 10 per cent as well as a penalty.
http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/womans-footwear-without-back-strap-is-sandal-not-chappal-high-court/

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Shoes.com shuts down immediately

Vancouver-based online shoe retailer Shoes.com announced January 27, without notice, that it would halt operations immediately.

The company has taken all three of its e-commerce properties – Shoes.com, OnlineShoes.com and ShoeME.ca ­– offline. It also closed the doors on its two Shoes.com brick-and-mortar stores, which are in Vancouver and Toronto.
It made its approximately 200 employees aware of the decision early on January 27, and the company said in a release that it will compensate the employees through to the end of the month.

Shoes.com is working with its secured lenders to determine the process to liquidate assets and currently intends to assign some or all of the group companies into bankruptcy.

A limited group of employees will stay on through the next few weeks as the company winds down all operations.

Shoes.com has its roots in CEO Roger Hardy's acquisition of  Vancouver’s Shoeme.ca and Seattle’s OnlineShoes.com in mid-2014. Bought simultaneously, the companies were run under one umbrella. Hardy financed those acquisitions from money generated by selling Coastal Contacts to French eyewear giant Essilor for $430 million.  He founded Coastal Contacts in 2000 and later took the venture public on Nasdaq.In December 2014, Hardy bought Shoes.com, which was then the online division of St. Louis-based Brown Shoe Co. (NYSE:BWS).

Hardy then merged all the brands in 2015.

His penchant for acquisitions was also on display when Shoes.com bought socks manufacturer Richer Poorer in late 2015.

Hardy did not immediately return a phone call from Business in Vancouver.

BIV reported on layoffs, lawsuits and delayed bricks-and-mortar store openings at Shoes.com in November.
BIV then reported, on January 15, that recent moves by Walmart to compete with Amazon.com for online shoppers could make life more challenging for mid-sized e-commerce players, such as Shoes.com.

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) announced January 5 that it had shelled out US$70 million to buy Shoebuy.com – a move that many interpreted as a shot across the bow of Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN), which operates the shoe e-commerce division Zappos.com.

Zappos stopped shipping to Canada in 2011 but has a foothold on a sizable chunk of the U.S. online shoe market.

Walmart would not reveal how much Shoebuy generates in annual revenue, but, in 2013, Internet Retailer magazine estimated its sales to be around US$315 million.

That is likely a similar size to Shoes.com, given that Hardy, told BIV in mid-2015 that his company had an annual revenue run rate of $320 million and that he aimed for that rate to rise to $1 billion by 2020.

“Given the delayed nature of e-commerce, the costs of fulfillment – for the retailer, as well as for the consumer ­– and the prevalence of physical stores, Shoes.com and Shoeme.ca were playing in an already crowded space,” retail analyst and Retail Insider Media owner Craig Patterson told BIV when he was informed of the news.

“Without knowing their financials, I’m curious if there was an increase in costs associated with corporate expansion.”
https://www.biv.com/article/2017/1/shoescom-shutting-down-today/

Friday, 27 January 2017

Footwear Market: North America Industry Analysis | Trends and Forecast 2021

A new Transparency Market Research report states that the North America footwear market stood at approximately US$80.6 bn in 2014 and is predicted to touch US$89.7 bn by 2021, by rising at a 1.50% CAGR between 2015 and 2021. The title of the report is “Footwear Market - North America Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2021.”

The footwear market in North America is being influenced by the introduction of new innovations and styles within the different categories of footwear. The rising count of athletes and the increasing shift towards staying fit and active are the major factors propelling the growth of the North America footwear market. The increasing sense of fashion in this region is also impacting the market positively. In addition, the increasing count of product promotions by the manufacturers of footwear in North America has also augmented the development of the market here. Furthermore, the increasing number of online platforms for purchasing different kinds of footwear and the soaring count of working women in this region have also driven the development of the market.Get PDF Sample for Professional and Technical Insights at
www.transpareOn the basis of gender, the North America footwear market is segmented into kid’s footwear, women footwear, and men footwear. By type, the report segments the market into non-athletic footwear and athletic footwear. Amongst these, the non-athletic footwear market is sub-segmented into dress/formal, casual footwear, and fashion footwear.

Athletic footwear is further categorized into sports (cross training), insert shoe, backpacking boots, and hiking shoes. Of these, the demand for non-athletic footwear is comparatively more than the demand for athletic footwear. This is owing to the changing trends of fashion and the growing number of working women in the region of North America. The demand for athletic footwear will also stay strong owing to the proliferation of new styles of footwear matching the increasing concerns about health. The segment of non-athletic footwear is predicted to lead the North America footwear market all through the forecast horizon.

By country, the report segments the market into Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and others. Amongst these, in 2014, the U.S footwear market constituted the largest share on the basis of revenue. It is poised to maintain its superiority all through the forecast horizon. On the other hand, Canada trails the U.S on the basis of revenue and this trend is predicted to remain consistent all through the forecast period.

According to the report, the key players dominant in the footwear market in North America are Nike Inc, Adidas AG, The Aldo Group Inc., and Skechers U.S.A., Inc., among others.

About Us

Transparency Market Research (TMR) is a market intelligence company, providing global business information reports and services. Our exclusive blend of quantitative forecasting and trends analysis provides forward-looking insight for thousands of decision makers. TMR’s experienced team of analysts, researchers, and consultants, use proprietary data sources and various tools and techniques to gather, and analyze information. Our business offerings represent the latest and the most reliable information indispensable for businesses to sustain a competitive edge.
http://www.openpr.com/news/422762/Footwear-Market-North-America-Industry-Analysis-Trends-and-Forecast-2021.html

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Three-day int’l leather show begins from Friday

LAHORE - A three-day Pakistan Mega Leather Show is being held at the Expo Centre from January 27-29.

Pakistani and foreign manufacturers from India, China, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil and European and Asian countries will participate in the third edition of the exhibition. Addressing a press conference at a local hotel, show’s convener Muhammad Musaddiq said that Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers & Exporter Association (PLGMEA) and the Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PGMEA) also joined the Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association and the Pakistan Tanners Association for the exhibition. Pakistan Tanners Association Chairman Anjum Zafar, Regional Chairman Azam Malik and former chairman Agha Saiddain were also present on the occasion.

The PTA chairman said that the leather sector is the second largest export-oriented and value-added industry after textile. Besides five percent contribution in exports, this sector also contributes 2.67 percent of GDP with over one million workers throughout Pakistan, he said.

Sharing details of the show, the PTA regional chairman said that the upcoming exhibition will portray and improve positive image of Pakistan at world level and to motivate leather business entrepreneurs for growth. He said that the exhibition would also enhance confidence of investors in Pakistan’s markets. He added that people from across the world will also attract towards the leather industry of Pakistan.

He said that the manufacturers would have a chance to discuss local leather industry and future challenges with visiting counterparts. He said that the exhibition – that would be dedicated to all sectors of the leather industry – would be a stepping stone, as this event would provide a perfect occasion for companies to show case their best products in front of local and international buyers.
http://nation.com.pk/business/26-Jan-2017/three-day-int-l-leather-show-begins-from-friday

Monday, 23 January 2017

Reebok Sublite Cushion Tactical Footwear

Reebok Sublite Cushion Tactical from Warson Brands, official licensee of Reebok for duty and uniform footwear, is a line of tactical footwear. It is designed for law enforcement and first responder professionals.Reebok Sublite Cushion Tactical incorporates Sublite foam midsole technology to maximize cushioning while minimizing weight. The Sublite dual density foam midsole provides lightweight cushioning for comfort and responsiveness. Deep flex grooves in the midsole allow for natural movement, letting feet bend and balance naturally. At the heel and toe are rubber pads for stopping power and takeoff propulsion.

“The Reebok Sublite Cushion Tactical is our lightest series of tactical footwear,” says John Duvic, VP of Product Development at Warson Brands. “Law enforcement professionals have to carry a lot of heavy equipment for their job, so we wanted to create one piece of equipment that wouldn’t weigh them down. The Sublite Cushion Tactical is it.”

In November, the Sublite Cushion Tactical was worn by the Missouri TAC Team while competing at the SWAT International Roundup in Orlando.

“The Sublite Cushion Tactical boots are very comfortable and lightweight, which is great for foot pursuits,” says Jim Zwilling of the Missouri TAC Team. “After wearing them on the streets, chasing suspects, jumping fences, climbing walls, and executing search warrants, these boots have held up very well,” says Matt Tesreau of Missouri TAC Team. “They are very comfortable.”

The Sublite Cushion Tactical features a MemoryTech Massage footbed that adapts to the unique contours of the foot and a slip resistant outsole that grips in slippery conditions. Each also includes a YKK size zipper.The 8″ RB8805 Boot, the 6″ RB8605 Boot, and the RB8405 Mid are available in medium width sizes seven through 16 and wide widths sizes seven through 15. The 8″ RB8806 Boot comes in medium width sizes four through 16 and wide width sizes four through 15 with waterproof protection; the RB8105 Oxford comes in the same sizes. The women’s 8″ RB806 Boot is also waterproof and comes in medium and wide width sizes six through 12; the women’s RB805 Mid and RB815 Oxford are offered in the same sizes.
http://facilityexecutive.com/2017/01/reebok-sublite-cushion-tactical-footwear/

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Man recognized for leather art

A Highland, Kansas, man has made it his mission to keep a dying art form alive.

Bill Gomer, a master leather artisan, recently was recognized with an Academy of Western Artists Award.

“When they told me I was on the list, I thought they were joking,” Gomer says. “It’s such a high honor.”

He says it’s such a prestigious award he remembers being in tears when he was notified he was being considered.

Gomer says he remembers working in his dad’s shop at the age of 5. His father, a skilled saddlemaker, started him out punching holes in belts.

Gomer’s skills are recognized by many in the community, and he has become a mentor to some.

“Bill is considered a grandmaster, a title bestowed upon you by your peers,” says Josh Stevens, a local fellow leather craftsman. “There are only a handful of grandmasters in the world.”

Stevens says he became interested in leather crafting in 2012, while looking for someone to help customize his Harley motorcycle. He wanted a customized seat that resembled a western saddle.

Unsure of who to go to, he started researching online and was unsuccessful at locating someone who provided what he was looking for. So he figured he would just make what he wanted himself.

“I signed up for an entry-level class and it wasn’t long before I was hooked,” Stevens says. “It quickly became a hobby, a passion, a side job even. I really enjoyed creating things. I’d never been artistic before.”

The more he enjoyed it, he wanted to reach out to others practicing this craft. Stevens says he located a handful of people and was introduced to Gomer.

“To find somebody that’s in your backyard that essentially is one of the best in the world, it was amazing,” Stevens says.

He says he went to Gomer’s shop and started going through his artwork, looking at his tools and taking an even deeper interest in the art of leather carving. He’s been working with Gomer for a little over a year now.

“We started a leather guild with members from all over,” Stevens says. “Bill is instrumental in helping us with the group. We try to study with him as much as possible.”

Under the tutelage of Gomer, Stevens has made guitar straps, belts and knife sheaths. Leather carving frame artwork is another genre Gomer works in.

“It puts the focus on the actual carving and artwork side of things,” Stevens says. “Along the lines of something you could hang on the wall. That’s what I’m studying with Bill.”

Gomer is known by many as a renowned saddlemaker. He specializes in equine products, another popular genre of leather work. Since leather crafting isn’t practiced by many, Gomer does his part to help keep it alive.

“Bill is one of those guys that if you’re interested, he wants you to learn. He’s definitely willing to teach, no matter what stage you’re in.”
http://www.newspressnow.com/life/man-recognized-for-leather-art/article_989d6f24-ba25-5d51-8e61-4011336a88b9.html

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Sustainability, traceability and animal welfare are key trends in 2017

The January-February 2017 market leading edition of ILM has now been published and concentrates on some of the major concerns that the global leather supply chain will need to tackle in 2017.
With editorial input from three major global brands, Kering Group, Audi and Puma, outline how they see sustainability in the leather supply chain going forward and how they hope to work their leather supplier partners in the future. Leather remains a key component material to such brands so long as tanners can support their core values around these critical areas.
As well as the brands perspective on sustainability ILM also looks at the growing trends for greater transparency, traceability and animal welfare in the value chain. The ILM Jan-Feb 2017 magazine provides a review of the recent Dutch based “ReVeal” initiative, and the latest concept to bring DNA traceability into leather and leather products. Following on welfare and husbandry theme, Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB (Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board) UK, also discusses the best practice and the global challenges facing the meat and leather industries relating to animal welfare.
ILM also covers the introduction of a new food grade hide chilling facility at hide and skin suppliers, Crawford Hide based in Northern Ireland. More tanners are looking to reduce or eliminate salt preservation from their processes and chilling is one alternative.
Market report Vietnam
Away from the key trends around sustainability and animal welfare ILM has published an in-depth overview of the fast-growing tanning industry in Vietnam featuring many of the key international players such as Tong Hong, Saigon TanTec, Tehchang, Yi Sheng and PrimeAsia that supply many global brands located in one of South-East Asia’s fastest growing economies.
All this and a whole lot more can be found the latest edition of ILM which is the home of original leather industry content.
http://internationalleathermaker.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/3606/Sustainability,_traceability_and_animal_welfare_are_key_trends_in_2017.html

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Inside Bangladesh’s Polluted, Billion-Dollar Leather Industry

THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF Hazaribagh runs along the bank of the Buriganga River as it flows through Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Its name means “a thousand gardens” in Urdu, but you won’t see much green. Instead, the streets are lined with mounds and mounds of leather.

Hazaribagh is home to the country’s $1 billion tanning industry, a place where thousands work in the factories and chemicals makes the river slick and shiny. Everything revolves around the tanneries. “The village itself is kind of a giant factory,” says photographer Adib Chowdhury, who spent two weeks there last year. His cinematic photos in A Thousand Polluted Gardens brim with rich, colorful tones that belie the grim scenes.More than 150 tanneries have covered 50 acres in the past 60 years. They use chromium salts, acids and other toxins to treat hides that go on to China, India and beyond, sending some 762,796 cubic feet of wastewater flowing into the Buriganga. “It’s a famous local fact that if you go down to the river during sunrise and sunset, you can see the color shifts in the water,” Chowdhury says.

Thousands work in the tanneries, where school children pick up scraps before moving onto more dangerous tasks like dipping hides in acid. Many do so without gloves or even shoes, making skin and respiratory ailments common. It is unforgiving work; by one estimate, 90 percent of tannery workers die before age 50.

Chowdhury grew up in England, but his parents are Bangladeshi. He remembers relatives talking about the smell of Hazaribagh—a mix of sulphur and rotting carcasses. He read a Human Rights Watch report about the community in 2015, and felt he must photograph it. He flew to Dhaka in January, 2016, and smelled Hazaribagh even before he arrived. “It was honestly so bad, it makes your eyes sting and burns the back of your throat when you breathe,” he says.

He arrived early each morning when the light was best and people were washing up for work—sometimes using water drawn from the same places they washed skins. He started by photographing people working outdoors, then moved into the factories at midday. Chowdhury found their size staggering. At one point, children in the factory encouraged him to jump up and down. He did, and the ground squeaked beneath his shoes. “It was all leather,” he says.

In the months since Chowdhury’s visit, the government finally started improving the situation in Hazaribagh after 15 years of talking about it. It is establishing a site for tanneries, with a wastewater treatment plant, 12 miles away, and one-third of the tanneries have moved already. It remains to be seen, however, when the rest will follow, or what will happen to the city of a thousand gardens once they’ve gone.
https://www.wired.com/2017/01/adib-chowdhury-a-thousand-polluted-gardens-inside-bangladeshs-polluted-billion-dollar-leather-industry/

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

An Indian company is taking to the skies with its wanderlust-inspiring luxury leather goods

Over the years, in-flight amenity kits have been given a stylish makeover. Airlines around the world have roped in high-end brands, such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari, to transform what was once a fairly standard, uninspiring freebie into a collector’s item.
But 2017 will see an Indian luxury brand joining the fray: New Delhi-based Nappa Dori, founded by National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduate Gautam Sinha and named after the materials it uses—leather (nappa) and thread (dori in Hindi).Sinha and his team have applied the brand’s minimalist, wanderlust-inspiring design ethos to a collection of pouches for Qatar Airways that features vintage city scenes from London, Paris, and Doha. The kits will be given to business and first class passengers flying on short and medium-haul Qatar Airways flights around the world.
And that’s a big global milestone for the nearly seven-year-old brand. Though it now attracts celebrity clients in India and abroad, including Naomi Watts and Eva Longoria, Nappa Dori started out small in a studio in Delhi’s Hauz Khas village.
Early days

After studying fashion design at NIFT, Sinha, now 37, spent several years making products for European brands at a Dutch company in Delhi.
His love for leather came about by chance, thanks to a Scandinavian client who asked for a line of belts, prompting Sinha to give the material a shot for the first time. At 24, Sinha launched his first business, Definite Design, producing small leather goods for other brands. But it wasn’t until 2010 that he decided craft to designs under his own brand, Nappa Dori.
Sinha invested all his savings in the new business and began producing trunks and bags to sell out of his Hauz Khas studio. He figured he’d give himself a year to see how things would pan out.
“I really didn’t have a market and I didn’t know who’s going to buy (the products). But I did make (them), thinking that if I like it, someone else would like it,” Sinha said.
His instincts turned out to be right. Nappa Dori began drawing attention from the expat community and tourists in Delhi who snapped up the brand’s colourful trunks and its luxurious leather satchel and messenger bags, all of which seemed fit for nostalgic, Wes Anderson-esque journeys.Today, Nappa Dori runs six stores in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru and has plans to open even more, first in India and then abroad. Around 90% of its business now comes from these retail stores and Sinha says overall sales have been doubling year-on-year, every year.
And that has a lot to do with the evolving Indian customer.
https://qz.com/885890/nappa-dori-an-indian-company-is-taking-off-with-luxury-leather-goods-that-would-make-wes-anderson-proud/

Saturday, 14 January 2017

DIPP to fund, promote homegrown leather brands

NEW DELHI: Indian government is all set to give home grown leather brands like Woodland, Red Tape, Hidesign a marketing and promotional fillip to compete with Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo of the world through a new scheme.

“We will provide funds and facilitate through other possible means to take these brands across the globe. There is no reason why India cannot produce the next big luxury leather brand and grow from simply being a contract manufacturer,”  a senior government official said.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is interacting with the private players in the sector to finalise the scheme. Brands would be able to access overseas markets through global exhibitions, trade fairs without having to set up their own individual offices abroad.

“India should become an exporter of brands and not just of material in the leather sector… countries like China are pushing their brand. It is collective effort of the government and private labels,” said Harkirat Singh, managing director, Woodland India.
DIPP is also in talks with the global luxury brands to encourage them to set up manufacturing units in India. With one of the world’s largest stock of cattle, India gets access to abundant raw material for the industry. Leather is one of the focus sectors under the Make in India initiative with exports in the sector projected to grow at 25% per annum over the next five years.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/dipp-to-fund-promote-homegrown-leather-brands/articleshow/56528780.cms

Friday, 13 January 2017

Are ‘smart’ high heels brilliant or terrible

A French company named Zhor-Tech was showing off two pairs of “smart” high heels at CES last week, adding to the list of tech companies that are trying to appeal to women with a variety of Bluetooth-connected, traditionally femme products.

The Zhor-Tech Digitsole heels come in two models: a pair with heated insoles and another pair with an adjustable, mechanical high heel. The heated insoles build on previous technology that Zhor-Tech has made under its Digitsole brand, whereas the adjustable heels are new. Both pairs also track your activity (of course!) and pair wirelessly with an app, where you can control the temperature or the height of your heels.
The adjustable high heels, which range from 1.7 inches high to 3.1 inches, are in theory a modern woman’s dream. Rather than schlepping around an extra pair of shoes — so when the high-heeled ones you feel obligated to wear start to hurt, you can slip into flats — you can just tap a virtual button and feel your heels sink closer to the earth. Sweet relief: there’s an app for that.

But the heated heals are probably much more useful. And if we’re talking aesthetics — and who isn’t when it comes to $300 high heels? — the Zhor-Tech adjustable heels aren’t exactly elegant. They look like an exaggerated tap shoe, with a chunky metal stump protruding from the heel, and feel heavier than most normal pairs of heels.

Granted, anytime you add tech to clothing, whether a smart shirt or self-lacing sneaker or self-raising high heel, all of those sensors and motors and wireless chips will have to go somewhere, adding some bulk to the product. But still, clomping around in thick high heels to relieve yourself of the burdens of high heels seems counterintuitive.
Not to mention that your high-tech high heels will need to be charged. For some reason, finding a microUSB port on the underside of the adjustable high heels gave me a strange delight, which was also possibly just CES delirium. The warming high heels charge wirelessly through a pad on the sole of the shoe, a much better solution. Zhor-Tech says the pairs should last four days on a charge.

Zhor-Tech is just one of the companies that showed off a connected product at CES last week aimed predominantly at female consumers. Nokia-owned Withings and L’Oreal introduced a Bluetooth hairbrush, Willow showed off a wireless breast pump, and there was even a mirror that scanned your face for flaws. The not-so-subtle underlying message of these products is often one of “You’re doing it wrong,” whether it’s letting you know your hair is tangled, your eyes have crow’s feet, or... let’s not even get into the unending pressure on women to breastfeed.

At least the smart heels claim to offer something more akin to comfort, rather than shaming. Zhor-Tech says the high heels will be shipping this year for $299 a pair, though the company didn’t say exactly when in 2017.
Not to mention that your high-tech high heels will need to be charged. For some reason, finding a microUSB port on the underside of the adjustable high heels gave me a strange delight, which was also possibly just CES delirium. The warming high heels charge wirelessly through a pad on the sole of the shoe, a much better solution. Zhor-Tech says the pairs should last four days on a charge.At least the smart heels claim to offer something more akin to comfort, rather than shaming. Zhor-Tech says the high heels will be shipping this year for $299 a pair, though the company didn’t say exactly when in 2017.
http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/9/14215686/digitsole-smart-high-heels-customizable-shoe-ces-2017

 
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