“A foot is like a fingerprint,” says Jean-Yves Couput, innovation director at Salomon. “It’s unique to the individual.” Which is why this fall, the Annecy, France, brand is launching Mesh, a program that allows anyone to purchase a bespoke pair of trail- or road-running shoes based on foot shape, running style, and terrain.
Colors, patterns, and monograms have long been customizable on everything from Nike trainers to Vans casualwear, but in the past only sponsored athletes were able to drill down on specifics like heel-to-toe drop and the material used for the upper. That’s because of the high cost of personalization, says Matt Powell, vice president of the NPD Group, a market-research company in New York City. Those made-to-order Salomons will run $300, largely because they’re pieced together almost entirely by hand. But the company plans to automate more of the process in the future, and Couput says that full customization could be available for jackets and packs, too. Powell thinks that other shoe and apparel makers will follow suit. “It’s great to be the first mover,” he says. “But the first mover doesn’t always win the race.”
A 3-D scan of a runner’s foot measures length and width, as well as bone irregularities. Salomon then uses that data to build a knitted upper with a polyurethane skeleton.
The midsole can be customized with a drop height of six, eight, or ten millimeters, and runners can pick from two densities of EVA foam, prioritizing responsiveness or cushioning.
Three traction options are available—deep serrated lugs for muddy and technical terrain, shallower ones for packed trails, and an even flatter profile for the road.