Sneaker fit is a growing problem today. According to a study done by The Journal of Foot & Ankle Research, 63 – 72% of the participants were wearing sneakers that did not fit properly. We conducted our own survey in January, here’s what we learned:
79% of people who purchased footwear online looked to size & fit comments made by other customers to determine which size will work for them
48% of people own performance sneakers of different sizes
65% of people end up returning their footwear because they did not fit properly.
Our feet deserve better. Your foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles, pretty crazy, right? Our feet are a very intricate part of our body and the starting point for nurturing them is wearing sneakers that actually fit so you can perform at your best mentally and physically. Not to mention preventing injuries like Achilles Tendinitis, Stress Fractures, Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Neuromas.
SO WHAT'S HAPPENING, WHY IS FIT BECOMING A GROWING PROBLEM?
After 20 years in the footwear industry working on performance footwear, I think there are two reasons why fit has become such a big problem today.
First, traditional footwear fitting methods are outdated. You know that weird contraption at shoe stores that measures the length and width of your foot? It’s called a Brannock Device -- sounds like a torture device, right? Well, it kind of is, because it does not measure foot shape, only length and width, and shape matters most when it comes to sneaker fit. Charles F. Brannock invented this device in 1925 while working at his fathers shoe store to measure feet and determine shoe size. Before that, foot measurement was done with a stick! But 95 years later, we’re still using the Brannock device, which does not factor in foot shape. This outdated fitting method is part of the reason over 60% of people are wearing the wrong size sneakers.
Second, more people are purchasing footwear on-line without trying them on first. We’re learning that many customers will compromise fit because they’re used to wearing the wrong size sneaker. A lot of people don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning or exchanging a purchase.
WHAT'S ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT AT YORK?
We’ve been obsessed with fit from day 1 because we know that fit is the baseline for performance. Our customers deserve better fit and as an independent footwear brand, we’re well poised to address it head on.
Our proprietary Last. We engineered a proprietary last shape (those 3D molded looking shoe form things) with over 52 points of measurement that optimize for fit and comfort. There’s a saying in the footwear industry that ‘the last is first’ because every great pair of footwear starts with the last shape. While larger brands create thousands of different last shapes for thousands of different footwear styles, YORK Athletics focuses on refining 1 last shape and 1 style to optimize for fit. We created the following three fit points to create the best fitting sneaker:
COMFORT. Relaxed fit in the midfoot area results in a sneaker that fits more people. It accommodates a taller foot, as well as allowing volume in the instep area. A clever fit ratio that is the ultimate in comfort, promotes easy on / easy off and creates that ‘slipper like fit’ YORK Athletics is known for.
SUPPORT. Snug fit in the heel area promotes ‘heel lock down,’ which is critical in a performance sneaker to perform at your best. Our molded foam collar and sock-liner heel sidewall will keep your heel in place while you’re in motion, which also helps prevent injury.
Upper Design Optimized for Fit. The upper construction on The Henry and The Frank styles were purposefully designed to optimize for fit on our last shape. This is why our footwear’s aesthetic is so minimal -- there’s absolutely nothing on the sneaker that distracts from fit…no straps, air bubbles, unnecessary patterns or big logos that can alter how the sneaker fits, naturally ‘wraps’ the foot, and doesn’t irritate.
We’re very happy to announce a new fit technology launching this Spring. We’ve developed a web app that will allow our customers to measure their foot shape, length and width with a simple photograph in the comfort of their own home. With this foot scan data, we will be able to generate your recommended fit so customers can feel confident without having to try on the sneaker before purchase. We’ll also be rolling out a ‘Fit Guarantee,’ allowing customers to try our sneakers for 30 days. If a customer is not completely satisfied with the fit and comfort of our sneakers, they can return or exchange them free of charge.
“A proper fitting sneaker is important, no matter what I’m doing,” said World Champion Gymnast & YORK Athletics Ambassador Aly Raisman. “From working out to traveling, to everyday activities, the support and comfort of my YORK Athletics sneakers are what make them so versatile."
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Mark’s writing explores mental & physical conditioning and mindfulness meditation. He is the CEO and Co-founder of YORK Athletics Mfg., a training footwear brand that outfits & inspires Everyday Fighters on their personal growth journey. His work can be found on their on-line journal, Everyday Fighters, where you’ll discover healthy living tips and inspiring stories from his circle of athletes, professional fighters, meditation teachers and entrepreneurs. Mark is married, a father of two boys, a surfer and co-owner of YORK Athletics MFG and MCGARRY&sons. He trains with the Rajasi Muay Thai MMA team and is a student of mindfulness meditation at the Benson Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital. He lives in South Boston, MA.