Foot Anatomy and Minimal Shoe Design Considerations

Payson Muller Wednesday, 1 September 2021

This is a 23 minute conversation with Payson Muller, the co-founder of The Last Shoemaker, a small footwear company based in the North of England. Payson is an ex-stonemason who transferred his skills to creating bespoke lasts that adhere to a minimalist shoe design. Though keen not to give health advice, Payson being very interested in the "health" of the foot, shared his knowledge of how our feet can change shape depending on the shoes we wear. In order to provide his children with both comfort and a connection to nature via the feet, as well as professionals who like barefoot shoes yet need to dress formally for work, The Last Shoemaker preserves traditional craftsmanship in modern pared back designs.

In this lesson, learn interesting anatomical details to spur you into thinking beyond appearances for your product, understand how to really look at the details and materials of your shoes, and recognise what you should and should not remove from your designs for your customer to be comfortable.

Thumbnail: Bespoke last from The Last Shoemaker

In this lesson you will learn:

  • The ethos and conception behind The Last Shoemaker
  • What 'barefoot' shoes are, how they differ from other footwear, and the reasons behind this design choice
  • How a traditional approach to footwear design can be beneficial
  • Ideal material choices and sustainable options for this type of footwear
  • Advice on starting a bespoke footwear line

Login to view this lesson. Not a Professional Member of The Sustainable Fashion Collective?

Find out more here or, click to enjoy our free articles before upgrading

Read Next

  • 3D Printing For Footwear And Marketing A Niche Product

    with Philippe Holthuizen

    In this 15 minute lesson, designer and maker Philippe Holthuizen gives his insight on how 3D printing can work for footwear, particularly within a sustainable setting. His brand FUSED Footwear offers super cool sneakers all printed with his own tinkered with 3D printer, all of which can also be returned and recycled. Philippe provides honest advice on launching and growing a business that offers a niche product, including what you should consider when it comes to scaling, pricing, finding your audience and how to grow as a creative business person.

  • Introduction To Pattern Cutting For Footwear

    with Amanda Overs

    This 25 minute practical lesson is led by Amanda Overs, Director and Founder of I Can Make Shoes, a business that provides support and technical skills in developing and designing your own shoes at home or as a fashion business.

    In this lesson, Amanda explains what a shoe last is, and then takes you through the steps in taping up your last and designing on it, before showing you how to create a full pattern for a heeled court shoe - knowledge that can be easily transferred to other styles.

    Please note, if you are listening to this as an audio file, there will be sections of silence as this is where Amanda is showcasing particular techniques.

    Find more Masterclasses from I Can Make Shoes at:

  • Kyle Parsons, Indosole: Repurposed tyres into sustainable footwear

    with Kyle Parsons

    When Kyle Parsons uncovered the vast environmental issues caused by discarded rubber tyres in Bali, he made it his mission to counteract the crisis by developing sandals made from repurposed waste. Today, Indosole is an internationally recognised sustainable footwear brand, appearing on Forbes's list of four social enterprise companies to watch.

    In this video, we hear about the process of scaling the business from just four sandal designs to the international success it's achieved today, their ongoing funding journey and challenges, and what it means to Kyle to run a B Corp certified company.

  • Nida Gonul: On growing her own footwear

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

     Nida Gonul is an inspirational, sustainable footwear designer. She completed a masters in Footwear at Central St Martins three years ago, working with non-leathers. I was sooo excited when she told me about her experience growing her own Kombucha Leather for her footwear designs and how her experiments with the fabric brought her closer towards a completely sustainable solution for footwear - incredible! Naturally, I couldn't wait to get her in to tell us all about it! She's now launching her own ethical and affordable footwear brand and also spoke about her journey setting up her own brand so far... enjoy!

  • Recycled Footwear Fever - Developments in Shoe Materials

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    Recycled footwear doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. This exciting and cutting-edge alternative blends eco-friendly principles with those of style and fashion. Right now, lots of designers are directing their focus towards footwear that attracts attention while also conforming to the low-impact lifestyle that so many crave by using innovative shoe materials. Recycled footwear is a great solution as it binds function and practicality with already existing materials. It’s a trend that lots of small businesses have capitalised on for years, and now big brands are starting to take notice.

  • Social Sustainability Considerations In Footwear Manufacture

    with Rodrigo Lopes

    A 13 minute lesson that looks at key social sustainability considerations you should make when manufacturing footwear. Director of sustainable materials solutions marketplace Global Green, Rodrigo Lopes, joined us to give insight into how footwear manufacture operates in his home Brazil, where he also operated shoemaking factories. Learn about how to ensure skilled footwear producers retain and pass on their skills, the importance of pushing for fair trade manufacturing principles, and what footwear production looks like in South America.

    Thumbnail image: Bolivian footwear factory via Voa News

  • Achieving A Transparent And Circular Business Model With Repairable Footwear

    with Stefan Mathys

    Experienced footwear designer Stefan Mathys, and now co-founder of repairable footwear brand VYN, joined us to give insight into how footwear design and production costs work in reality for mid-range fashion footwear brands. He gives thoughts on how a footwear brand or line could be implemented to consider the full life cycle of materials and product, how to engage customers with repair practices, and the ways in which fast fashion brands could adhere to similar systemic design shifts. This is a longline 40 minute interview that dives deep in to many questions, and will leave you feeling inspired and motivated, as well as better equipped in knowledge when it comes to repair models.

  • Essential Terminology, Tools And Components For Sustainable Footwear

    with Stephanie Steele

    This is a read-only lesson so carve out 30 minutes and take notes. Equipping yourself with the terms of footwear design and manufacture will help streamline your time with factories and pattern cutters, and understanding where sustainable alternatives could be found will trim energy spent sourcing. In this lesson we cover the anatomy of the shoe to aid in your recognition of the many parts and components that go into a piece of footwear, and most importantly, the considerations you could and should make when it comes to responsible decision-making.

    Thumbnail image: HOTELMOTEL