Blending fashion with tech: This iPhone app will scan your foot and make you a custom pair of high heels

Key Points
  • New York-based True Gault has created an app that helps design a custom pair of high heels.
  • The company was founded by Sandra Gault, who has worked at Kodak and IBM.
  • True Gault is also part of Google's Accelerator program, which has helped launch Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club and Casper.
  • Nina Garcia, the fashion director of Marie Claire magazine, has joined the True Gault team as an advisor.
Source: True Gault

A quick scan of the foot with an iPhone will result in a customized pair of high heels, delivered from Spain, through an app created by True Gault — the latest brand to crack the code on mass-producing personalized items.

The New York-based shoe start-up has patented a technology that uses 3-D measuring tools to capture the biomechanics of a foot, all from an iPhone's camera. A user will also enter certain foot measurements into the app, helping create a truer representation.

The result is what True Gault calls a "bespoke pair of heels," in a personal fit, and priced at $250 to $350 per pair. "Women can buy shoes online, but size doesn't guarantee fit, so we broke the mold of the shoe industry to redefine the relationship between women and their heels," the company said of its mission.

The start-up was founded by Sandra Gault, who has spent time in past careers at Kodak and IBM. The company is part of Google's Accelerator program, which has notably helped launch other popular brands such as Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club and Casper.

The woman-led company aims to tap into the growing trend of mass customization in fashion and retail. Nike, for example, has managed to grow its online platform after rolling out NikeiD, which allows shoppers to customize their own Nike merchandise.

"Since NikeiD debuted in 1999, this offers the opportunity in retailing for what I term 'Customized Creativity,'" Fashion Institute of Technology professor Shawn Grain Carer told CNBC in an interview.

Customized purchases of special items and unique styles allow brands to stay "relevant as fashion leaders" today, Carter said.

True Gault is looking to create something similar to Nike's customizable platform, but with high heels and a technology twist. NikeiD boasts an extensive website with design capabilities, but has no standalone app and less integration with 3-D imagery.

Gault calls herself the quintessential "geek in high heels," saying that she was "baffled by the notion that women everywhere simply accept that looking great in high heels means discomfort."

Nina Garcia, famous for her role as a judge on television show "Project Runway" and also the fashion director of Marie Claire magazine, has joined the True Gault team as an advisor.

"What makes me so excited about True Gault is that not only am I a shoe lover, but I have always been a promoter of technology," Garcia said. "True Gault is a rare combination that strikes the perfect balance between tech and fashion, solving a widely known problem for the consumer and the industry as a whole."

"True Gault is changing the way women select, buy and wear shoes, much like Uber has impacted transportation, or Warby Parker has impacted eyewear," she added.

More and more retail brands are starting to deliver customized options to shoppers, as the concept gains in popularity and companies are searching for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.

"With the success of NikeID, we are seeing brands jump into the mass personalization trends," Maya Mikhailov, co-founder of mobile marketing firm GPShopper, told CNBC. "From The North Face to Gucci, consumers are increasingly having the option to 'make it their own,' at all price points."

With technology on the upswing, mass customization in retail will only grow from here, Mikhailov said. Customization will become more "sophisticated" and special features will be added to extend beyond the selection of colors and patterns, she said.

"Take, for example, Google and Ivyrevel's Data Dress, which uses an app to track a user's activities, lifestyle and environment to create a custom dress. ... It is the beginning of a concept where mass customization would no longer even need user inputs, but instead make product suggestions for what the consumer needs based on tracked activity."

Coded Couture — an app built by Ivyrevel, backed by H&M and in partnership with Google — is the creator behind Data Dress. The program turns out a personalized dress after tracking a user's lifestyle for a week. For now, the product remains in beta testing with top fashion influencers the only ones using it.

"More and more our clothing will fuse with our devices to create optimal experiences," Mikhailov added. And shoppers are "absolutely willing to pay more" for personalized products. That being said, True Gault's $250 to $350 price point shouldn't be much of an issue.

True Gault guarantees that its shoes will fit properly, or adjustments will be made until the heels are "perfect."

Shoppers can choose from more than 20 styles, more than 40 leathers, various colors and heel heights when designing their shoes within True Gault's app. That selection will continue to grow, the company said.

Other fashion retailers using mass customization to reach a wider audience include Stitch Fix, a personal styling service that curates selections of clothing for men and women — based on taste, need and price. Amazon, meantime, is preparing to roll out a similar concept with Prime Wardrobe.

"Mass customization is here and will foster greater connections between the retail stores, fashion brands, and loyal customers who participate in the shopping experience online, in the physical store, and through social media..." FIT's Carter said.

Teespring and Zazzle provide other examples of online-only platforms that have successfully tapped into the mass customization trend — offering personalized shirts, watches, sunglasses and cards.

"Today, everyone's lifestyle is infused with tech from the way you order groceries to how we get around town," Marie Claire's Garcia told CNBC. "How we express ourselves through fashion should be no different. ... Shoe lovers no longer need to choose comfort or style, and they don't even need to choose from options on the market — aesthetic customization is very exciting."

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