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Friday, May 27, 2022

Every parent’s dream: Expandable children’s shoes that fit long enough to be worn out are on the way

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No more trips to the shoe shop every school holiday! Expandable children’s shoes that extend to fit growing feet are heading to High Street stores

  • British firm to launch shoe for under-7s that can expand an entire size and a half
  • Shoe brand Pip & Henry developing £80 shoe with mechanism to lengthen sole
  • Stretchy material and extending base will double the lifespan of kid’s shoes 
  • John Lewis eco fund gives maker £250,000 to help combat ‘throwaway culture’
  • Nine in ten of 80million shoes bought in the UK each year end up in landfill

An extendable children’s shoe that can stretch a size and a half could soon appear in British stores.

Shoe brand Pip & Henry is developing the new invention for under-sevens, the age where children’s feet grow most quickly.

Founder Jeroo Doodhmal said the mechanism could double the shoes’ lifespan. Young children’s shoe sizes change roughly three times a year.

The out-of-the-box idea is being funded by John Lewis, which gave Pip & Henry £250,000 via its £1million eco fund.

Stretchy material in the upper and an interlocking mechanism in the sole will extend the shoe

Stretchy material in the upper and an interlocking mechanism in the sole will extend the shoe

Ms Doodhmal, 38, told The Guardian: ‘I think we’re about a year away from it being in the shops. 

‘We have to test the prototypes and then take it to industry experts for their feedback … then come up with a final concept that’s ready for commercial launch.’

Pip & Henry’s sustainable shoes for children cost £60 – and the expanding range would likely cost £20 more, the founder said.

‘It is my ambition to keep the cost down as much as possible’, she explained.

Each year Brits buy 80million pairs of shoes - with 85 per cent ending up on landfill (file image)

Each year Brits buy 80million pairs of shoes – with 85 per cent ending up on landfill (file image)

The entrepreneur got the idea while watching Blue Planet with her baby daughter.  

She said: ‘On the one hand I was showing her Blue Planet, and trying to get her inspired by nature, but on the other, she was outgrowing clothing and footwear faster than I could effectively recycle it.’

Design proposals include an extendable sole with an interlocking, jigsaw-style mechanism. 

‘The funding is substantial enough to take us all the way,’ Ms Doodhmal added.

‘I feel very confident we will be able to come up with something really valuable and robust.’

Brits purchase 80million pairs of shoes each year – including 60million for children.

More than 85 per cent end up on landfill sites, Ms Doodhmal said.

She said: ‘We won’t move the needle on that 85 [per cent] if we don’t take this concept to the mass market.

John Lewis sustainability director Marija Rompani said the Circular Future Fund, which has also given money to Scottish libraries and the University of Leeds, could have ‘real impact’.

She said: ‘Our throwaway culture, and the waste it generates, are unquestionably among the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetime and tackling them will require a different kind of thinking.’

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