Innovative shoe mould created by alumnus for large sports brand

Alumnus Mike (Reg) Hawes was presented with a problem in 1985 by the footwear division of Adidas. While their shoes were deemed very comfortable in Europe, they were not as well received in North America.

Mike had a research interest in human morphology so investigated why the shoes were comfortable in one continent but not in another.

The initial idea was that there were differences in foot shape between the two groups, possibly because it was commonplace for Europeans to wear formal shoes which were straighter and narrower, while North Americans typically wore casual shoes which allowed the feet to spread out more and follow a more natural curve.

The alumnus began his research to find out the typical shape of a North American foot. The study involved more than 4,000 people. Around 30 measurements were taken of each person’s feet including length, width and height as well as a 2D footprint. The measurements were all averaged and combined to create average footprint data and from this a series of 3D foot models were made.

The resulting data was presented to Adidas and then to their last maker Framas. Mike attended the factory in Germany to provide an interpretation of his data and went on to collaborate in producing an entirely new North American shoe mould.

The production of newly shaped shoes specifically for North American markets was a major success for Adidas and subsequently received worldwide acceptance.

Mike carried out further research including studies of the foot shape and dimensions of Asian populations, children, differences in genders, especially large feet, and route marching soldiers for the National Defense Department of Canada.

Mike graduated from Loughborough in 1965 with a degree in Physical Education.