SHOES ARE HAVING A MOMENT

Whether you are an absolute shoeaholic or simply a retail and innovation lover, this week’s [retail bytes] will amaze you with what tech can create when mixed with footwear and a sprinkle of creativity

 Who needs humans anyway? The future of retail has arrived and it’s white. In fact, it is a white shopping assistant-robot. If you’re after new sneakers, but don’t want to wait for the store assistant to grab you a pair from the dungeon in the basement stockroom, head to Berlin. You don’t need to talk to humans at all, since Solebox.com has created a shop with a robot that can find the right size of shoes for you in the stockroom. Instead of giving sales assistants tablets to send orders through wi-fi, the store is simply replacing humans with robots capable of picking the correct shoe size. The future is here. Or, actually, it’s in Berlin.

Do it yourself: How often do you find yourself hanging around a shoe shop, with a pair of shoes in hand, waiting for the busy sales assistant to find out if they have it in your size? In-store touch screen kiosks help customers in Belgium-based Torfs fashion and footwear store (in Dutch), giving them a chance to instantly check size availability while also providing videos for styling inspiration. If the store can provide your selected type of shoes, the customer can either order them for home delivery or simply wait for the assistant, having been assured that the selected pair is available. Why many shoes shops aren’t providing stock availability on mobile is a mystery to us, but at least Torfs have taken the first step, with their cute touch-screen kiosks enabling stock checking. No robots, but a good first step indeed.

Think out of the box with the store-in-a-box: Don’t have a store but fancy trying out trading from a physical location? WithMe are suppliers of mobile store-in-a-box, where any brand can set up a temporary camp using their smart and comprehensive tech infrastructure. Chicago recently hosted the Tom Store shoes pop-up, where all shoes were equipped with RFID (radio-frequency identification). They invited customers to learn about the shoes they like on the spot and then recommended a suitable pair through mobile notifications. London next?

Fancy streetwear meets tech: Dark glamour fashion meets sneakers in high-tech woven materials in the hotly awaited collection designed by Olivier Rousteing for Nike Lab. Some serious lateral thinking is going on here, producing a fascinating melange of streetwear and tech. Fashion collabs are the way to go, as they provide brands with R&D to push the customers beyond their comfort zone. Love.

Get that heel right: As much as we worship footwear designers, there’s nothing better than having a go at designing your own shoes. If you get a chance, go and visit Nordstrom’s venture with Aussie retailer Shoes of Pray, where customers can create their own design in-store and get it delivered at home. Choosing amongst 170 fabrics, different styles and (most importantly) heel height, customers just can’t get enough of their own creations. The concept is simple, but it shows that women trust their own taste even more than the most famous shoemakers. A winner – and a lesson for designers!

Don’t forget to take a trip to New York to check out Manus x Machina at The Metropolitan Museum, which explores the spectrum of beautifully handmade fashion along with tech and glamorous 3D-printed creations. Supported by Condé Nast, the show poses new questions about the future of fashion. A must-go – watch the teaser here.