Fluevog Shoes: Open Source Footwear*

12 03 2007

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William C. Taylor reports in the New York Times today how Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog, one of the stars of his profession (loyal customers call themselves ”Fluevogers”), has been soliciting ideas from its customers — encouraging brand enthusiasts to submit their own sketches for leather boots, high-heeled dress shoes, even sneakers with flair. He posts the submissions on his company’s Web site, invites visitors to vote for their favorites and manufactures and sells the most promising designs.

”Customers want to express themselves, to be involved with the brand,” Mr. Fluevog is quoted in the article. ”For so long, people would hand me a drawing of their personal design for a shoe or ask if I had considered an idea they liked. This program is a natural outgrowth of that desire for connection.”

As the NYT reports, until today the company has chosen nearly 300 finalists from the flow of sketches into its headquarters — and introduced ten shoes based on customer designs, including the Urban Angel Traffic, a walking shoe (retail price, $179) designed by a customer in Moscow, and the Fellowship Hi Merrilee, a vintage-style pump ($189) designed by a customer in Provo, Utah.

Introducing customers in footwear design may have its limits: ”Some of the ideas from customers are striking, but impossible to make,” Mr. Fluevog sayz in the article. What tends to work best, he explained, are intriguing twists on design themes that he and his colleagues are already exploring. ”But even submissions we can’t make add to the stimulation,” he added. ”Our customers get more involved, and we get insights into who they are and what they’re doing. It’s better for both of us.”

Visit: http://www.fluevog.com/files_2/os-1.html 

 (Source: http://mass-customization.blogs.com)

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