In the billion-dollar business of women’s shoes, beauty is, often, pain. Luckily for women, Antonia Saint Dunbar is looking to change that, by tackling a difficult challenge in women’s footwear: comfort. Saint Dunbar is not a novice in the game of creating women’s products that address function. She is one of three creators of THINX, a period proof underwear with a multinational fan base.
The customized shoes mirror the feeling of wearing your favorite sneakers and are designed to alleviate pressure points.
Saint Dunbar co-founded the shoe company Antonia Saint NY and, to properly launch it, she co-founded the New York City-based Brooklyn Shoe Factory for manufacturing. Through this start-up, Saint Dunbar has introduced comfort-centered technology into two classic shoe styles. She’s designed a high heel (the Victoria) and a flat (the Jane Autumn), two staples every woman should have in her closet, but is pulling out all the stops to ensure comfort for every consumer who purchases a pair. The customized shoes mirror the feeling of wearing your favorite sneakers and are designed to alleviate pressure points.
“I started to pay attention to the construction of our shoes, and I realized that the industry is a total racket. You’re expected to move in shoes that have no technology for comfort,” Saint Dunbar explains. “They also expect us to modify our shoes with inserts and cushions to make them wearable after we buy them. I knew there had to be a better way.”
So exactly how high is the demand for a pair of stylish shoes that can effortlessly get us through the entire day? On July 25, 2019, Saint Dunbar took to online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to “help bring creative projects to life,” and launched a campaign. Within a week, her project had raised a quarter of a million dollars.
To create the functional shoes, Saint Dunbar consulted with the likes of Keiko Hirosue, the founder of the Brooklyn Shoe Space; Rebecca Heykes, co-founder of the Brooklyn Shoe Factory; shoe manufacturing expert Otabo; and Dr. Suzanne Levine, an award-winning podiatric surgeon and author of My Feet Are Killing Me.
Through a NY Fit Kit, which campaign backers received, Antonia Saint NY obtains exact measurements and personalizes and customizes your desired shoe. Internally, the shoes are created with the patent-pending SoftSurround System™ with a cushion at the base of the big toe to decrease bone pain, a triple-elevated cushion under the ball of the foot, dual-layered foam to cushion the entire foot, tri-arch support that can withstand two and a half times the body weight of a regular heel and a cushioned heel cup, which helps prevent blisters and annoying heel gap. A deeper toe box provides additional room around the toes, while side cushioning adapts to the foot, depending on the time of the day. Externally, heels are ballistic-nylon-wrapped to prevent tears, and tips are reinforced for stronger, and longer, wear. Thanks to a sleek exoskeleton that disguises all this technology, you wouldn’t know any of this was going on by looking at the shoes.
For women who have dreamed about wearing their favorite pumps from morning to midnight, or felt that tinge of buyer’s remorse after realizing that their new designer pumps were not a painless option, Saint Dunbar offers a solution that treats style, comfort and function as equals. ■