A rocket scientist, an astronaut, a fashion expert, engineer and orthopaedic surgeon walk into a bar. Make that a shoe store. Together they are Thesis, and after careful observation they conclude that high-heels are in need of a major overhaul.
I can’t count the many nights I spent praying to the shoe Gods on behalf of my poor soles. Why I chose to endure a life of torture during my twenties is beyond my own comprehension. Now, in my early 30’s with flats and orthotics in hand, am I beginning to pay the price.
Thesis and the Couture Footwear Revolution
Silicon Valley is home to some of the most imaginative startups, including Thesis Couture. The company is lead by entrepreneur visionary extraordinaire Dolly Singh, who is one of hundreds of thousands of women that hails from the beauty-is-pain generation. What sets Dolly apart, is her vision, dedication and a team of experts to change this. Needless to say, I was thrilled to interview her and understand the motivation behind Thesis.
JN: When / how did you reach the pivotal point where you decided that the craftsmanship of the heel required an overhaul?
DS: When I turned 32, I began to question my choices. I just wanted to wear shoes that looked great and didn’t destroy my feet, but unfortunately my research for existing alternative designs yielded very few options. I’m a tiger-mom, and have always maintained a firm belief that if you have a problem or a complaint, you do something about it. Don’t come to me with complaints. If you have a problem, you better come up with an idea for a solution. Find a way to fix it! So, that’s exactly what I did.
At the end of the day, that’s my philosophy on life. Don’t bitch about something, just fix it.
– Dolly Singh
JN: Thesis has quite the diverse team of specialists, would you mind telling us a bit more about each of them?
DS: We have a very respected orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Andy Goldberg. He is an OBE (Officer of the British Empire – and knighted by the Queen) – literally one of the top 3 surgeons in the U.K, and he is one of my advisors. German-born engineer Garrette Reisman has been to space 3 times, has done 3 space walks (!!!) and has lived on the bottom of the sea, so he has a pretty diverse background. Co-founder of Spacex Matt Thomas produced military gear for Okley before he joined the Thesis family. Fashion scientist Amanda Parkes holds a diverse educational background which fuses fashion design, architecture, engineering and technology. So, while this is a fashion-tech project but not a purely tech project, I wanted to form a team of experts who would compliment one another through this collaborative endeavour, while remaining true to their field.
JN: I’m assuming that there will be a limited supply of shoes available, probably for the first couple of months. How can folks secure a pair of Thesis Couture shoes?
DS: Purchases will be limited by reservation – open this fall 2015 – only on our website, since there will be a limited 1500 pairs available. Each pair will be numbered and signed by our guest designer (it’s a surprise!!) and it’s very much set up as a collectors edition. Considering the history of footwear, what we’re doing is truly revolutionary from a historic standpoint. It relates to how our footwear is designed and made, so we are starting with a process similar to Tesla’s.
JN: Sounds right to play it safe, using a limited supply.
DS: Yes, since there’s no ‘blueprint’ for this, it’s the first time anything like this has been done with footwear. Since we are doing something that is so different, it makes sense to begin with a smaller production line. I think it’s important to give yourself real control over the quality, which I feel is really important.
JN: What are the price points going to be like?
DS: they will range between $350 to $950 for our collections. The first 1500 will all be priced at $925. *
JN: Are you planning to work with any specific designers in particular?
DS: We are! We’re just not going to announce that person’s name just yet, so stick with us – you will soon know and I think you’ll be even more excited once it’s revealed!
JN: Say Thesis wasn’t an option right now, what style would you wear?
DS: As sexy as an open pump looks and feels, it’s actually quite damaging to your feet. When there is nothing securing the shoe from the top (of your foot), what happens is your toes are basically clawing the ground in order to keep the shoe on your foot. So I am a proponent of strappy, sexy heels, and would pick a strappy shoe over an open pump.
JN: I’ve discovered that Toms makes a nice wedge that’s easy to walk in and surprisingly comfortable.
DS: Wedges are easy. Functionally, what we are trying to create a stiletto that functions as a wedge at the most basic level. Wedges create a structure all the way across, so your foot actually rests into it. With a stiletto, because the internal structure is just a skinny metal plate, there is no real structure to the shoe. All the shoe is doing is propping you up so you can walk on your toes. So we wanted to create a stronger support around the foot without compromising comfort or style.
It’s just as important to take care of yourself, as it is to take care of everyone around you.
JN: If there’s a final piece of advice that you would like to share with our readers, what would it be?
DS: Women should expect better. I think one of the big reasons that the market didn’t improve for so long is because we as women continue to buy regardless of comfort. Designers are not changing how they produce footwear, because we never stop to say “this sucks, you should find a way to make it better.” If our husband’s feet, or our children’s feet were getting damaged by their shoes, we would be picketing in the street! Women are so good at taking care of everything around them, yet sometimes neglectful to take care of themselves. So this is one of those cases where we should be able to have our cake and eat it too. I just think it’s about women having higher expectations.
So there you have it! Women torture themselves on a daily basis to look good. Sure, we love comfort, but we will opt for pain so as long as it gives our calves a good lift and lengthens the leg. We pay a price to look taller, but we need to be reminded that beauty shouldn’t be so destructive.
Registration will be open this fall, but you can sign up to the mailing list on their homepage, and keep up with the latest on Thesis.
Thesis is style without sacrifice, and I for one am all about that life.
* prices are in U.S dollars.