Continuum, which makes customizable or user-designed fashion, is now selling shoes made with a 3D printer. The Strvct line of footwear is based on a delicate but austere pump design or a similar sandal one; from there, users can ask for different colors, styles, or heel lengths. The shoes are then given a patent leather inset and the bottom is coated with textured rubber, making them (theoretically) wearable. Talking up futuristic 3D printing is always good for publicity, but for a tiny company, it's also a way to provide a range of designs without much infrastructure. Continuum already sells modular printed bikinis made with a dot design that could show up in later versions of the shoe.
Right now, the only way to order is through email, but Continuum's Mary Huang says a web tool will soon let users pick their heel length and other features before ordering. Like many other designers, Continuum prints through Shapeways; it promises turnaround of between two to four weeks. While the shoes don't look exactly comfortable to us, Huang promised that they were as wearable as similar footwear.
Continuum's project is hardly without precedent. The web-like shoes look a lot like those produced by Brazilian designer Andreia Chaves, and intricate mesh designs are a standby of 3D printing. That said, they occupy a rare place between printed art piece and DIY home kit. At $900 a pair, it's not exactly fashion for the masses, but it's in the same price tier as other high-end shoes. The Strvct line's quality and size seem beyond what many current-generation consumer printers can manage, but we wonder how long it will be before home-built fashion through MakerBot or Cubify is a feasible alternative to this custom-made couture.