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Title:
CUSTOMIZABLE FOOTWEAR SYSTEM AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/039944
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of assembling customized footwear on-site and a customized on-site footwear system. The method of assembling customized footwear on-site includes the steps of displaying a plurality of shoe bases; displaying a plurality of heels; displaying a plurality of lower fore-foot straps; receiving from an on-site customer a selection of one of a plurality of shoe bases; and assembling the selected heel, shoe base, and lower fore-foot strap into the customized footwear on-site. The customized on-site footwear system includes a chosen-on-site shoe base, a chosen-on-site heel, and a chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap.

More Like This:
WO/2011/051984SHOE
Inventors:
TERNER ROSA (US)
TERNER SALOMON (US)
Application Number:
US2009/059211
Publication Date:
April 08, 2010
Filing Date:
October 01, 2009
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TERNER GROUP LLC (US)
TERNER ROSA (US)
TERNER SALOMON (US)
International Classes:
A43B9/00
Foreign References:
US20070240336A12007-10-18
US20060150441A12006-07-13
US20080189194A12008-08-07
US4300294A1981-11-17
US20080073229A12008-03-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUILLIN, George, E. (3000 K Street N.W.,Suite 60, Washington District of Columbia, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A method of assembling customized footwear on-site, the method comprising the steps of: displaying a plurality of shoe bases, wherein each shoe base includes a bottom face, a first side, and a second side; displaying a plurality of heels; displaying a plurality of lower fore-foot straps; receiving from an on-site customer a selection of one of the plurality of shoe bases, one of the plurality of heels, and one of the plurality of lower fore-foot straps; and assembling the selected heel, shoe base, and lower fore-foot strap into the customized footwear on-site by: fastening the selected heel to the bottom face of the selected shoe base, and fastening the selected lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the selected shoe base and to the second side of the selected shoe base.

2. The method of claim 1 , wherein the assembling step includes: shortening the selected lower fore-foot strap to a first desired length.

3. The method of claim 1 , further comprising providing a first fitting strap, wherein the assembling step includes: fastening the first fitting strap to the first side of the selected shoe base, and adjusting the first fitting strap to determine the first desired length.

4. The method of claim 1 , further comprising: receiving from the on-site customer a selection of an additional lower fore-foot strap, wherein the assembling step includes: fastening the selected additional lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the selected shoe base and to the second side of the selected shoe base.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the assembling step includes: shortening the selected additional lower fore-foot strap to the first desired length.

6. The method of claim 4, further comprising: displaying a plurality of replacement lower fore-foot straps; and receiving from the on-site customer a selection of one of the plurality of replacement lower fore-foot straps, wherein the selected replacement lower fore-foot strap is interchangeable with either the selected lower fore-foot strap or the selected additional lower fore-foot strap.

7. The method of claim 4, further comprising: displaying a plurality of overlying fore-foot straps; and receiving from the on-site customer a selection of one of the overlying fore-foot straps, wherein the assembling step includes: fastening the overlying fore-foot strap to the first side of the selected shoe base, and adjusting the overlying fore-foot strap to determine a second desired length.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the assembling step includes: shortening the selected overlying fore-foot strap to the second desired length.

9. The method of claim 7, further comprising configuring the selected overlying forefoot strap to overlie at least one of the selected lower fore-foot strap or the selected additional lower fore-foot strap.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising: providing a second fitting strap; displaying a plurality of support straps; and receiving from the on-site customer a selection of one of the plurality of support straps, wherein the assembling step includes: fastening the second fitting strap to the bottom face of the selected shoe base, and adjusting the second fitting strap to determine a third desired length.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the assembling step includes: fastening the selected support strap to the bottom face of the selected shoe base.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein the assembling step includes: shortening the selected support strap to the third desired length.

13. A customized-on-site footwear system comprising: a chosen-on-site shoe base including a bottom face, a first side, and a second side; a chosen-on-site heel; and a chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap, wherein a first screw fastens the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the chosen-on-site shoe base, wherein a second screw fastens the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the second side of the chosen-on-site shoe base, and wherein a third screw fastens the chosen-on-site heel to the bottom face of the chosen-on-site shoe base.

14. The footwear system of claim 13, wherein the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap has a chosen-on-site first desired length.

15. The footwear system of claim 14, further comprising: a first fitting strap, wherein the first screw fastens the first fitting strap to the first side of the chosen-on-site shoe base, and wherein the first fitting strap is configured to indicate the chosen-on-site first desired length, height, and angle.

16. The footwear system of claim 13, wherein the footwear system includes a left shoe and a right shoe and wherein the left shoe differs from the right shoe with regard to a feature from the group consisting of: size, shape, height, and color.

17. The footwear system of claim 14, further comprising: an additional chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap, wherein the additional chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap has the chosen-on- site first desired length, wherein an additional first screw fastens the additional chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the chosen-on-site shoe base, and wherein an additional second screw fastens the additional chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the second side of the chosen-on-site shoe base.

18. The footwear system of claim 17, further comprising: a chosen-on-site overlying fore-foot strap, wherein the chosen-on-site overlying fore-foot strap has a chosen-on-site second desired length, and wherein the chosen-on-site overlying fore-foot strap overlies at least one of the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap and the chosen-on-site additional fore-foot strap.

19. The footwear system of claim 18, further comprising: a chosen-on-site support strap, wherein the ehoseii-υn-sile suppuil strap has a chosen-on-site third desired length, and wherein a fourth screw fastens a first end and a second end of the chosen-on- site support strap to the bottom face of the chosen-on-site shoe base.

20. The footwear system of claim 19, further comprising a customized footwear kit, the customized footwear kit comprising: a plurality of chosen-on-site replacement lower fore-foot straps adapted to interchange with the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap fastened to the shoe base and the chosen-on-site additional lower fore-foot strap fastened to the shoe base; a plurality of chosen-on-site replacement overlying fore-foot straps adapted to interchange with the chosen-on-site overlying fore-foot strap fastened to the shoe base; and a plurality of replacement chosen-on-site support straps, adapted to interchange with the chosen-on-site support strap fastened to the shoe base, wherein each of the plurality of chosen-on-site replacement lower fore-foot straps has the chosen-on-site first desired length, wherein each of the plurality of chosen-on-site replacement overlying forefoot straps has the chosen-on-site second desired length, and wherein each of the plurality of chosen-on-site replacement support straps has the chosen-on-site third desired length.

21. The footwear system of claim 20, the customized footwear kit further comprising: a plurality of replacement first screws adapted to interchange with the chosen-on-site first screw; a plurality of replacement second screws adapted to interchange with the chosen-on- site second screw; a plurality of replacement fourth screws adapted to interchange with the chosen-on- site fourth screw; and a fastening driver adapted to drive the plurality of replacement first screws, the plurality of replacement second screws, and the plurality of replacement fourth screws into the shoe base.

22. The footwear system of claim 13, further comprising an innersole configured to receive a signature.

Description:
Customizable Footwear System and Method

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/136,779, filed 10/2/2008, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

[0002] The disclosed embodiments relate generally to the field of footwear and, in particular, to a footwear system and method that enable the customized assembly of shoes.

SUMMARY

[0003] One embodiment relates to a method of assembling customized footwear on-site. The method comprises the steps of displaying a plurality of shoe bases; displaying a plurality of heels; displaying a plurality of lower fore-foot straps; receiving from an on-site customer a selection of one of the plurality of shoe bases, one of the plurality of heels, and one of the plurality of lower fore-foot straps; and assembling the selected heel, shoe base, and lower fore-foot strap into the customized footwear on-site. Each shoe base includes a bottom face, a first side, and a second side. Assembling the selected heel, shoe base, and lower fore-foot strap into the customized footwear on-site is done by fastening the selected heel to the bottom face of the selected shoe base, and fastening the selected lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the selected shoe base and to the second side of the selected shoe base.

[0004] Another embodiment relates to a customized-on-site footwear system comprising a chosen-on-site shoe base, a chosen-on-site shoe heel, and a chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap. The chosen-on-site shoe base includes a bottom face, a first side, and a second side. A first screw fastens the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the first side of the chosen-on- site shoe base. A second screw fastens the chosen-on-site lower fore-foot strap to the second side of the chosen-on-site shoe base. A third screw fastens the chosen-on-site heel to the bottom face of the chosen-on-site shoe base. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the disclosed embodiments will become apparent from the following description, appended claims, and the accompanying exemplary embodiments shown in the drawings, which are briefly described below.

[0006] Figure 1 is a side elevational view of a footwear system including a single strap according to an embodiment.

[0007] Fig. 2 is a side elevational view of one style of shoe assembled using system components.

[0008] Fig. 3 is a side elevational view of another style of shoe assembled using system components.

[0009] Fig. 4 is a side elevational view of yet another style of shoe assembled using system components.

[0010] Fig. 5 is a side elevational view of yet another style of a shoe assembled using system components.

[0011] Fig. 6 is a side elevational view of another style of shoe assembled using system components.

[0012] Fig. 7 is a bottom view of an exemplary outersole attached to a foot bed. [0013] Fig. 8 is a top view of an exemplary folded footwear kit. [0014] Fig. 9 is a top view of an exemplary unfolded footwear kit.

[0015] Fig. 10 is a partially exploded side elevational view of a partially assembled shoe of the style of Fig. 2.

[0016] Fig. 11 is a partially exploded side elevational view of a partially assembled shoe of the style of Fig. 4.

[0017] Fig. 12 is a partially exploded bottom perspective view of a partially assembled shoe of the style of Fig. 6.

[0018] Fig. 13 is an exploded view of a foot bed, heel and screw for attaching the heel to the foot bed. [0019] Fig. 14 is an exploded top view of a foot bed, innersole, and cushions for attaching the innersole and cushions to the foot bed.

[0020] Fig. 15 is a top view of an exemplary fitting strap.

[0021] Fig. 16 is a side elevational view of a partially assembled shoe, including a fitting strap.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0022] Presently preferred embodiments are illustrated in the drawings. An effort has been made to use like reference numbers throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

Overview of the Footwear System

[0023] The footwear system utilizes component parts that are selected by each customer at the retail point of sale for fit, comfort and style, and are quickly assembled on-site into a finished pair of fashion shoes that are ready to wear. The system is especially suited for assembling custom-made ladies' shoes, but can be utilized for creating men's fashion shoes as well.

[0024] The components used in the system comprise assortments of foot beds (shoe bases), heels, innersoles, and uppers (lower fore-foot straps, overlying fore-foot straps, and support straps), which may be leather, fabric, or any other suitable material. From these, the customer can select a desired combination of sizes, colors, textures, and styles. The components are then assembled into a finished shoe using threaded fasteners. The uppers have a first end and a second end. The material making up each upper continuously extends from the first end of each upper to the second end of each upper. The threaded fasteners may be, for example, screws or bolts. The threaded fasteners may be fastened to the foot bed by any suitable device, for example, an alien wrench, a screwdriver, or a fastening driver.

[0025] The heels used in the system are not interchangeable because each selected heel is permanently fastened to the selected foot bed. Many of the other components used in the system, however, are interchangeable. For example, the lower fore-foot straps, overlying fore-foot straps, and support straps are able to be interchanged with other lower fore-foot straps, overlying fore-foot straps, and support straps respectively having the same or different color(s) and/or being made out of the same or different material(s). The threaded fasteners are able to be interchanged with other threaded fasteners having the same or different color(s).

[0026] Referring to Fig. 1 , a footwear system 200 according to an embodiment preferably includes a foot bed 206, the foot bed 206 including a bottom face 216, a first side 226, and an opposite second side 236; a heel 202; and a strap 224. Threaded fasteners 228 removably fasten the strap 224 to the first side 226 of the foot bed 206 and to the second side 236 of the foot bed 206. A different threaded fastener (not shown) from the threaded fastener used to fasten the strap 224 to the foot bed 206 fastens the heel 202 to the bottom face 216 of the foot bed 206. The foot bed 206 may be the foot bed for a left shoe or a right shoe. In this application, a plurality of similarly threaded fasteners in a given figure will be referred to by the same reference numeral. Even if only one threaded fastener is used to fasten the strap to the first side of the foot bed and only one threaded fastener is used to fasten the strap to the second side of the foot bed, threaded fasteners 228 fasten into any holes (not shown) on the first side and the second side 236 of the foot bed 206 that are not being used to fasten a strap to the first side and the second side 236 of the foot bed.

[0027] The footwear system may include a plurality of straps and may include a removable accessory. The accessory may serve as ornamentation. The footwear system may also include an innersole, an outersole, cushions, a right shoe, a left shoe, and a footwear kit. In this application, innersole will interchangeably be referred to as insole.

[0028] Figs. 2-4 depict three different preferred embodiments that can be assembled using the system components. Fig. 2 depicts a footwear system with a broad, low-rise heel 12, and three spaced narrow straps 14 or lower fore-foot straps secured to the foot bed 16 by means of screws 18. Fig. 3 depicts a footwear system with a high heel 22, and a composite strap arrangement secured to the foot bed 26. The strap arrangement comprises a single wide strap 24 or lower fore-foot strap, and a central overlying narrow strap 25 or overlying fore-foot strap, both secured to the foot bed 26 by means of screws 28. Fig. 4 depicts a footwear system with a narrow, low-rise heel 32, and a single wide strap 34 or lower fore-foot strap removably secured to the foot bed 36 by means of screws 38. [0029] Figs. 5 and 6 depict yet another preferred embodiment that can be assembled using the system components. Figs. 5 and 6 depict a footwear system with a high heel 92, a lower fore-foot strap 94, an overlying fore-foot strap 95, a support strap 97, an innersole 90, an outersole 101, and an accessory 99. The lower-fore foot strap 94, the overlying fore-foot strap 95, and the support strap 97 are removably secured to the foot bed 96 by means of screws 98.

[0030] The innersole 90 attaches to the top face 100 of the foot bed 96. The innersole 90 is dimensioned to fit within the boundaries of the foot bed 96. The innersole 90 is designed to have the shape of the foot bed 96. When the innersole 90 attaches to the top face 100 of the foot bed 96, the innersole 90 stretches from the rear of the foot bed 96 to just below the toes of a customer's foot when a customer's foot is positioned on top of the foot bed 96 and below the lower fore-front straps 94, the overlying fore-front straps 95, and the support strap 97. The innersole 90 may include the brand name of the footwear. The brand name 102 may be located on the front or rear of the front face of the innersole 90. For example, as shown in Fig. 6, the brand name 102 may be located on the rear, front face of the innersole 90. The brand name shown in Fig. 6 is a non-limiting example of a brand name and other brand names may be used. The innersole 90 may also include a customized name. The customized name may be a name written by a customer onto the innersole 90.

[0031] Preferably, the innersole is silver-colored or gold-colored. The innersole may also be another color or a combination of colors. Preferably, the innersole 90 is leather. The innersole 90 may come in a variety of sizes. Preferably, there are at least three sizes for an innersole: small, medium, and large. Preferably, the small size fits a woman's size 6 or 7 foot bed, the medium size fits a woman's size 8 or 9 foot bed, and the large size fits a woman's size 10 or 11 foot bed. These foot bed sizes are equivalent to the same U.S. size woman's shoe. For example, the small size is equivalent to a U.S. woman's size 6 or 7 shoe. Cushions (not shown) may be included in between the innersole and the top face of the foot bed to provide added comfort to the wearer of the footwear.

[0032] The accessory 99 may attach to either or both the lower fore-foot strap 94 and the overlying fore-foot strap 95. Preferably, the accessory 99 attaches to the overlying fore-foot strap 95. The accessory 99 is removable. The accessory 99 may include any conventional mechanism so that the accessory 99 can be removed from the lower fore-foot strap 94, the overlying fore-foot strap 95, and/or the support strap 99. For example, the accessory may include a clip that enables it to clip onto and off of the overlying fore-foot strap. Any type of conventional accessory may be attached to the lower and/or overlying fore-foot straps. For example, a conventional accessory may be obtained from various companies that sell/supply accessories, such as Boutique Brio in Dallas, Texas; Fashionbliss.com; MultiChic.com; TraceyAsaiDesigns.com, etc.

[0033] Fig. 7 shows an exemplary outersole 301. The outersole 301 attaches to the bottom face of the foot bed 306 and covers the fore-front of the foot bed 306. Preferably, the outersole includes the brand name of the footwear system. Preferably, the outersole 101 is rubber, to aid in the comfort, stability, and wear of the footwear system.

[0034] Fig. 8 shows an exemplary embodiment of a folded footwear kit 350 and Fig. 9 shows an exemplary embodiment of an unfolded footwear kit 350. The footwear kit 350 may be kept folded by a tie 251. The footwear kit 350 may include three containers 356, a plurality of replacement lower fore-foot straps 354, a plurality of replacement overlying forefoot straps 355, a replacement support strap 357, a plurality of screws 358, and a screwdriver 359. The first container 356a includes the plurality of replacement lower fore-foot straps 354, the plurality of replacement overlying fore-foot straps 355, and the screwdriver 359. The second container 356b includes the replacement support strap. The third container 356c includes the plurality of screws. The first container 356a and the third container 356c include a plurality of compartments. Alternate footwear kits may include more or less replacement lower fore-foot straps, replacement overlying fore-foot straps, replacement support straps, and screws. Alternative footwear kits may also include devices, other than a screwdriver, which are capable of fastening and unfastening a threaded fastener to a foot bed. The containers included in a footwear kit may be the same or different sizes. Each container may be closed. Any suitable mechanism may close a container. Preferably, a zipper closes a container. Each container may include one or more compartments. Assembling the Footwear System

[0035] Use of an exemplary embodiment of the preferred system now will be described. The customer first selects the desired foot bed and heel for both the left foot and the right foot (size, shape, height, finish including color). The selection process may involve trying different combinations of sizes, shapes, heights and finishes for both the left foot and the right foot, such that when the left shoe and the right shoe are assembled, the left shoe may differ from the right shoe with regard to size, shape, height, and/or color. Once the selection process is complete, the heel for each shoe is permanently joined (screwed) to the foot bed, and a leather insole is glued or otherwise attached to the foot bed. The straps are then fitted to the customer's foot. These can be arranged at different heights and angles and lengths, and in different combinations of widths as desired, preferably to accommodate the contours of the customer's foot. The different height refers to the distance from the foot bed to the strap when the strap is fastened to the first side of the foot bed and the second side of the foot bed. The different angles refers to the angle at which a strap is trimmed after a strap is fitted to a customer's foot. The different widths refers to the width of a strip or a plurality of strips when they are arranged horizontally adjacent to one another. Holes are then punched in the straps, in a pattern that matches the threaded fasteners in the foot bed, to maintain the desired strap arrangement. Screws are then inserted through these holes and fasten the strap to the foot bed. The ends of the straps may then be trimmed at a pleasing angle (e.g., parallel to the lower edge of the foot bed). Any suitable device may be used to trim the straps. For example, scissors or a knife may be used to trim the straps. Before being trimmed, the lower fore-foot strap(s) and overlying fore-foot strap(s) are preferably 8 inches long and 1 3/8 inches wide respectively. Before being trimmed, the support strap is preferably 12 inches long and a 1/2 inch wide. The innersoles are then attached to the top face of the foot bed. The shoes are now ready to wear. The innersoles provide padding to the foot bed. In an alternate embodiment, the heel may be fastened to the foot bed at any time before or after the straps are fitted to the customer's foot and fastened to the foot bed.

[0036] Preferably, the footwear system is assembled on-site. On-site means that the footwear system is assembled at or near the same location where the customer selects the foot bed, the heel, and the strap(s) for the left shoe and the right shoe; in other words, it is typically at the retail point of sale. For example, the on-site location may include several kiosks. The customer may make his/her selections at a first kiosk, the footwear system may be assembled at a second kiosk, and the customer may pick up the assembled footwear system at a third kiosk. Or, for example, the customer may make his/her selection and pick up the assembled footwear system at the same kiosk where the footwear system is assembled. The customer may or may not be on-site when the shoe is assembled. For example, the footwear system may be assembled at a distant location from where the customer selects the foot bed, the heel, and the strap(s) for the left shoe and the right shoe. For example, the customer may make his/her selection over the internet or over the phone and the footwear system may be assembled at a distant manufacturing location. In a preferred embodiment, the customer may make his/her selection of the foot bed, the heel, and the strap(s) from inventory for the left shoe and the right shoe.

[0037] Figs. 10 and 11 help to illustrate the way in which the upper (lower fore-foot straps and overlying fore-foot straps) of any shoe style is secured to the foot bed. Each strap preferably has holes 42 at each end - one hole in the case of a narrow strap (Fig. 10) and three holes in the case of a wide strap (Fig. 11). A strap of intermediate width may have two holes. The holes preferably are punched on-site at the point of sale for a custom fit, although pre-punched straps can be used. The foot bed 46, which preferably is made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ("ABS") plastic, is pre-finished with a outsole 44 and metallic inserts 47 in its sides, each having a female thread that receives a strap-attaching screw 48 and each including a hole 52. Each hole 52 is bounded by a metallic insert 47. The strap- attaching screw 48 may also be referred to as a first screw and a second screw where the first screw fastens the upper to a first side of the foot bed and the second screw fastens the upper to a second side of the foot bed. The inserts preferably are made of iron, and preferably are molded into the foot bed during its formation. Alternatively, the inserts are manually inserted into holes in the foot bed, where the holes are molded into the foot bed during the formation of the foot bed.

[0038] Fig. 12 helps to illustrate how the support strap 107 of any shoe style is removably attached to the foot bed 106. Specifically, Fig. 12 illustrates a support strap 107 lying next to a foot bed 106. The support strap 107 preferably has at least one hole 1 12 at each end. The holes 112 preferably are punched on-site at the point of sale for a custom fit, although prepunched support straps 107 can be used. Preferably there are two holes 112 at each end of the support strap. The support straps 107 may be any color. The support strap 107, is preferably made of leather or any similar material. The bottom face 1 16 of the foot bed 106 is pre-finished with metallic inserts 117 in the bottom face 116 of the foot bed 106, each metallic insert 117 having a female thread that receives a fourth screw 108 and each metallic insert 117 including a hole or defining a hole 122. The screw 108 engages the threaded bore and tightly secures the first end of the support strap 107 and the second end of the support strap 107 to the foot bed 106.

[0039] Fig. 13 helps to illustrate how the heel 62 of any footwear system style is permanently attached to the foot bed 66. The heel 62, which is preferably made of ABS plastic, has a molded-in metallic insert 67 (preferably made of iron) with a threaded axial bore defining or including a hole 72. The hole 72 is bounded by the metallic insert 67. The metallic insert 67 is larger than the metallic inserts that receive the first, second, and fourth screws. The rear portion of the foot bed 66 has a countersunk hole 69 through which a large screw 68, also referred to as a third screw, passes to engage the threaded bore and tightly secure the heel 62 to the foot bed 66. After using the screw 68 to fasten the heel 62 to the foot bed 66, cushion(s) (not shown) are attached to the foot bed 66, on top of the screw 68. The cushion(s) may or may not directly attach to the foot bed 66. Sometimes, a filler, for example a felt pad, may be placed on top of the screw, to for example, seal any openings between the screw 68 and the foot bed 66 before attaching the cushion(s) to the heel area of the foot bed 66. After attaching cushion(s), an innersole (not shown) is attached to the foot bed 66, on top of the cushion(s). The innersole may or may not directly attach to the foot bed 66, on top of the cushion(s). After attaching the cushion(s) and the innersole to the foot bed 66, the heel 62 is considered permanently fastened to the foot bed 66. The screw that permanently fastens the heel to the foot bed is different from the screws that fasten the lower fore-foot strap(s), the overlying fore-foot strap(s), and the support strap to the foot bed. The screw 68 that permanently fastens the heel to the foot bed is longer and wider than the screws that fasten the lower fore-foot strap(s), the overlying fore-foot strap(s), and the support strap to the foot bed. The screws that fasten the lower fore-foot strap(s), the overlying fore-foot strap(s), and the support strap to the foot bed, preferably are always accessible to fasten or unfasten and can be fastened and unfastened to the foot bed without damaging the surface of the foot bed. [0040] Fig. 14 helps to illustrate how two cushions 402a, 402b and an innersole 401 of any shoe style are attached to the top face 407 of a foot bed 406. The first cushion 402b may be attached to the rear of the foot bed 406, underneath where the heel of a user's foot would rest on the foot bed 406 when a user wears the footwear. The second cushion 402a may be attached to the fore-front of the foot bed 406. Preferably the first cushion 402b is labeled "heel" and the second cushion 402a is labeled "right" or "left" so that a person assembling the shoe can easily identify which cushion is meant to be attached to the heel of any foot bed and which cushion is meant to be attached to the fore-front of the left shoe or the fore-front of the right shoe. The cushion labeled "left" preferably attaches to the fore-front of the left shoe and the cushion labeled "right" preferably attaches to the fore-front of the right shoe. Preferably, each cushion includes a peel-and-stick adhesive. After the peel-and-stick adhesive is removed from each cushion, the adhesive can attach each cushion to the top face or the fore-front of the foot bed. The number of first cushions and second cushions that ultimately attach to the foot bed may depend on the number of first cushions and second cushions selected by a customer to be attached to a foot bed. The more cushions ultimately attached to the foot bed, the more cushioning provided to the foot bed, thereby providing a more personalized, customized comfort option according to the taste, requirements of the user.

[0041] The innersole 401 preferably includes a peel-and-stick adhesive. After the peel-and- stick adhesive is removed from the innersole 401, the adhesive attaches the innersole 401 to the top face 407 of the foot bed 406. A customer that desires to have a custom signature on his/her foot bed may do so. Preferably, a customer will practice signing the custom signature in a paper book. The paper book includes the outlines of the different sizes of innersoles. When the customer is satisfied with the practice custom signature, the customer can sign the custom signature on the innersole either before or after the innersole is attached to the foot bed. The customer may sign the custom signature on the innersole on-site or off-site. A customer may use any suitable device to sign the custom signature. Preferably, a customer will use a permanent marker to sign the custom signature.

[0042] Fitting straps may be used to determine a desired length of the lower fore-foot strap(s), the overlying fore-foot strap(s), and the support strap for a customer's foot before the straps are fastened to the footwear system. In general, at least one fitting strap is used to fit the lower fore-foot strap(s) and the overlying fore-foot strap(s) to the customer's foot, and at least one fitting strap is used to fit the support strap to the customer's foot. Generally, the fitting strap used to fit the lower fore-foot strap(s) is indirectly used to fit the overlying forefoot strap(s). Each end of a fitting strap preferably includes a plurality of holes running along the midline of each fitting strap. The holes are pre-punched but may be punched on site at the point of sale. Preferably, the fitting strap is made of plastic and is clear.

[0043] Fig. 15 depicts an exemplary fitting strap 114. The fitting strap 114 is clear and includes a plurality of holes 111 running along the midline of the length of the fitting strap. Generally, the fitting strap used to fit the lower fore-foot strap(s) and the overlying fore-foot strap(s) and the fitting strap used to fit the support strap to the customer's foot are different lengths and widths. Preferably the fitting strap used to fit the lower fore-foot strap(s) and the overlying fore-foot strap(s) is 9 inches long and 1 3/8 inches wide. Preferably, the fitting strap used to fit the support strap is 12 inches long and 1/2 inches wide.

[0044] Fig. 16 depicts an exemplary way that a fitting strap 124 is fitted to a foot bed 126. Initially, a screw 128 fastens the first end of the fitting strap 124 to the first side of the foot bed 126 and a screw 128 fastens the second end of the fitting strap 124 to the second side of the foot bed 126. Preferably, the screws 128 are not fully tightened thus allowing the fitting strap 124 to move. After fastening the fitting strap 124 to the foot bed 126, a customer may place his/her foot on the foot bed 126. If the fitting strap 124 is too tight or too lose, at least one of the screws 128 is removed and re-inserted into another fitting strap 124 hole 121, after the distance of the fitting strap between where the fitting strap is fastened to the first end of the foot bed and the second end of the foot bed is reduced or increased, so as to tighten or loosen the fitting strap. The process of tightening or loosening the fitting strap 124 may be repeated until the customer is satisfied with the way the fitting strap 124 rests over the customer's foot when the fitting strap 124 is fastened to the foot bed 126.

[0045] When the customer is satisfied with the way the fitting strap 124 rests over the customer's foot when fastened to the foot bed 126, the location of the remaining holes 121 along the foot bed 126, over which the fitting strap 124 lies are recorded on the fitting strap 124. Preferably a person stands with his/her feet about 6 to 8 inches apart and with his/her full weight on his/her balanced feet when the location of the remaining holes 121 is recorded. Any device may be used to record the location of the remaining holes 121. Preferably, a permanent marker is used. When marking the remaining holes 121, the excess portions of the fitting strap 124 are held down to lie flat against the foot bed 126. The excess portions of the fitting strap 124 are those portions of the fitting strap 124 that do not overlie a customer's foot when the customer's foot is on the foot bed and under the portion of the fitting strap 124 extending from where the first end of the fitting strap fastens to the foot bed to where the second end of the fitting strap fastens to the foot bed. Preferably, the spaces extending along the width of the fitting strap 124 that lay against the foot bed 126, and that are adjacent to the screw 128 fastening the fitting strap 124 to the foot bed 126, and surrounding the holes in the foot bed that the fitting strap overlies are marked. After marking the spaces, holes are punched through the fitting strap 124 by a conventional tool, not shown, (e.g., an automatic center punch made by General, model number 70079) at the locations existing between the marked positions.

[0046] After the holes are punched, screws 128 are placed through the holes. The screws 128 are used to fasten the fitting strap 124 to the foot bed 126. After fastening the screws 128, a customer may place his/her foot onto the foot bed 126 and under the fitting strap 124. Optionally, the customer may stand when the screws 128 are fastened to the foot bed 126. If after fastening the screws 128, the fitting strap 124 is too loose or too tight, the screws 128 may be unfastened, moved, and refastened. When the fitting strap 124 comfortably rests over a person's foot, the customer's foot may be removed from the foot bed 126 and the position of the screws may be marked. The distance between the first marked end of the fitting strap 124 and the second marked end of the fitting strap 124 will hereinafter be called the desired length. The above detailed process for fitting an exemplary fitting strap to a foot bed is preferably undergone for each foot. The above detailed process is preferably undergone for the lower fore-foot strap(s) and the support strap, such that there will be a first fitting strap with a first desired length and a second fitting strap with a third desired length. Preferably the first desired length is the length that the customer wants for the lower fore-foot strap, and the third desired length is the length that the customer wants for the support strap. The second desired length of the overlying fore-foot strap(s) is determined similarly to how the first desired length of the lower fore-foot strap(s) is determined. The main difference between the two processes is that the first desired length is determined using the first fitting strap, while the second desired length is determined by placing the overlying fore-foot strap(s) on top of the lower fore-foot strap(s) once the lower fore-foot strap(s) is the first desired length and fastened to the foot bed.

[0047] Before or after determining the desired length of the lower fore-foot strap, the overlying fore-foot strap, and the support strap, a customer may select one or more replacement lower fore-foot straps, replacement overlying fore-foot straps, and replacement support straps. The replacement lower-fore foot straps, the replacement overlying fore-foot straps, and the replacement support straps are interchangeable with the initially selected lower fore-foot strap, overlying fore-foot strap, and support strap. The replacement lower fore-foot strap(s), the replacement overlying fore-foot strap(s), and the replacement support strap(s) may be interchanged with the initially selected lower fore-foot strap(s), overlying fore-foot strap(s), and support strap respectively at anytime. Also, not all of the initially selected straps must be replaced at the same time. For example, a customer may choose to only replace the initially selected lower fore-front strap with one of the replacement lower fore-front straps. Or, for example, the customer may choose to replace only the initially selected support strap with one of the replacement support straps or only the selected overlying fore-foot strap with one of the replacement overlying fore-foot straps. In order to replace any of the initially selected straps, a customer may use the components included in a footwear kit, such as the footwear kit 350 shown in Figures 8 and 9.

[0048] It will be appreciated that the above-described system can utilize materials and assembly methods other than those mentioned. By way of example only, foot beds and heels may be made with different natural and/or synthetic materials that will stably support the foot and retain the threaded inserts; and they may be finished in a variety of colors and textures. For example, the foot beds may be made of plastic, wood, or any other durable material. Preferably, the foot beds are made of ABS plastic. The inserts may be made of other metallic materials, such as brass or steel, or of nonmetallic materials that are sufficiently durable to retain the screws, and may be installed in the foot bed after molding (e.g., by pressing into drilled cavities). The screws themselves may be made of other metallic materials, or of nonmetallic materials of sufficient durability. The outsoles may be made of other natural and/or synthetic materials. Preferably the outsoles are made of rubber. The innersoles may be made of any suitable material. Preferably, the innersoles are made of genuine leather or synthetic leather.

[0049] The system and method thus provides a means for customers to design their own shoes for a desired look and maximum comfort, without having to compromise on fashion, fit, comfort or styling. This avoids the usual limitations inherent in shopping for factory- finished shoes, which are stocked each season in limited sizes, colors and styles. Further, unlike traditional factory-finished shoes that are packaged in pairs of matching lefts and rights of the same size, the embodiments allow the customer to have shoes assembled of different sizes that optimally fit each foot, which may differ in size. Thus, the embodiments enable the customer to leave the retail site with shoes made exactly to her/his specifications and taste, achieving a unique combination of details, measurements and positioning that matches each foot independently.

[0050] One versed in the art would appreciate that there may be other embodiments and modifications within the scope and spirit of the disclosure. Accordingly, all modifications attainable by one versed in the art from the present disclosure, within its scope and spirit, are to be included as further embodiments of the present disclosure. The scope of the following claims and their equivalents is intended to cover such embodiments, modifications, and alternative designs.