Design your own shoes…too good to be true? Kara Rowe
Shoes of Prey – an Australian company started in 2009 – aims to change all this.
Rather than releasing a set range each season, as most retailers do, they put the buyer totally in charge of the design process. Once you’ve customised your shoes or boots to your hearts content and paid up, Shoes Of Prey will hand make them and send them out to you in about a month.
You start by selecting a basic template, which can be anything from ballet flats to heeled ankle boots, then select what you’d like them to be made out of. The options available to you range from the usual fair, such as various types of leather, patent leather or suede, to silk and bizarre choices such as snake or fish skin and even hair (why anyone would want to wear hairy shoes is beyond me!) Anyway, they also offer a “vegan” option, which I assume is some kind of leatherette or PVC material.
After that, you’re then given free rain to go wild, choosing the main colour, colour of the tow cap and adding as much or as little embellishments as you see fit.
This really sounds like shoe heaven. Unfortunately, there are a couple of caveats. For Screen Reader users, after you’ve selected your starting point the design process is quite a pain, requiring you to be very proficient at using your Screen Readers review cursor commands (E.G. JFW’s Jaws cursor, or the WE cursor in Window Eyes.).
The list of materials is clearly visible; however there is no indication of which is currently selected. So if you’re not careful, you could end up with a pair of hairy shoes after all.
The rest of the design options, such as heel, toe, back and decoration are hidden at first, but appear when you left click on the relevant word. All of these options pop up a menu containing a number of selections, which closes when you click the one you’d like, presumably applying your choice to a 3d image on-screen.
Customising the heel is very tricky. Clicking heel brings up a couple of combo boxes, 1 each for type and height, respectively. However, the website seemingly doesn’t allow you to pick any of the options presented using the keyboard, even by using the review cursor. The defaults are a stiletto heel at 3 inches.
There is a progress bar that informs you of how far you are through the design process, as well as a tab to bring up a list of all your selections you have made so far. Unfortunately for us, only the progress bar can be read, so you have no way of reviewing what you’ve done or even to make sure the right options have been selected in the first place.
I haven’t talked much about colour, as I can’t figure out how you change it, other than clicking clear and choosing either black or white. They actually provide pretty much every colour you could think of between those boundaries.
After doing all that, you can then click save to add your design to your account if you’ve created one. Alternatively you can just head to the check out, where they will ask you which size you require. They use European sizing, but on their FAQ page, you’ll find a handy list of ranges in various country’s formats. In UK terms, the sizes range from Child 12½ to adult 13½. They can make larger or smaller on request.
As this is a bespoke service, the prices are quite expensive ranging from £115 for ballet flats to £210 for ankle boots. While this is a considerable amount of cash, shoes by well known designers can fetch up to twice that or even more. I’ve seen a pair selling for well over £1000, and you obviously have no say in the design whatsoever.
I have not ordered anything from Shoes of Prey, so I can’t vouch for the quality of them. However, based on other reviews I have read, they seem to live up to their claims of being well made and comfortable. They also provide a variety of jell inserts and pads free of charge, should you wish to use them. This I think is a nice touch.
So, if you have patience, or a little sight and have money to burn, then give Shoes Of Prey a go. Otherwise, I’d pass on and continue searching for your perfect style elsewhere…Remember the hairy shoes?
Have you tried Shoes of Prey? What do you think?