Around five years ago podiatrist Anna Baird saw an opportunity to establish a footwear company focused on making cool shoes comfy, not comfort shoes that weren’t too bad. After fruitless searches for fashionable, orthotic-friendly shoes to recommend to her female clients, she set about launching Bared to fill the gap. Set up today in Melbourne’s retail hotspot, High Street, Armadale, a visit to Bared might see you spending upwards of two hours with staff to ensure you walk out with the right shoes for your feet. Be. magazine headed down to get measured up and learn a bit more about Bared footwear.
Anna’s background in podiatry and focus on the custom fit is what sets Bared apart and is evident as soon as you visit her shop. With staff members studying or working in podiatry, buying a pair of shoes is part way between a retail experience and a consultation. Measuring your feet is usually first up, and, as Anna says, is often when they find customers are wearing shoes one or two sizes smaller than what they need. A skeleton of the foot is at the ready to explain why foot pain might be occurring and detailed customer files are kept recording shoe types and method required for best fit.
The Bared shoe is based on a moulded footbed that helps to stabilise the foot, improve alignment and support the structure of the foot against the pressure of your body weight. The footbed can be removed if you need to slip in an orthotic or swapped for a shorter one to accommodate wider feet. If alterations are required to the shoe there are a few techniques Bared can do on the spot, including grinding down the footbed and adding in extra padding around the toe if you feel like you are slipping out. Other Bared design features include extra depth, a firm heel counter at the back of the shoe to control foot motion and a removable strap on many styles to help secure the foot.
Bared designs two seasonal ranges of shoes, along with year round popular styles like their supportive ballet flats and ankle boots. While a lot of customers come via referral or word of mouth, Bared isn’t just a shoe shop for people with an issue with their feet. As Anna explains, “we have a lot of hairdressers and people working in retail who are on their feet all day and can’t wear a thin-soled ballet flat.” With everyone able to appreciate the benefits of shoes that are fashionable and comfortable, the Bared range includes sandals, boots, heels and flats and styles are stocked in sizes 35 – 43.
While the focus for the last few years has been on the women’s range, Anna is now bringing Bared’s functional, supportive and stylish approach to men’s footwear. The first range includes three styles of work shoes, a desert boot, a lace up leather shoe and a boat shoe and is due to launch online and in store in October 2013.
The verdict after wearing a pair of Bared’s ballet flats for two weeks:
A very comfortable, firm-fitting shoe that snugly hugged the foot inside. While they felt great on from the beginning, they softened slightly after a few wears, which felt even better and looked great with a pair of black ankle pants!
Anna’s tips on what to look for in a pair of supportive, well-fitting shoes:
1. A rigid heel counter at the back of the shoe to control motion
2. An in-built metal shank so only the forefoot of the sole is flexible, not the whole shoe
3. Ideally a strap or laces to fasten the shoe onto the foot. Note: thongs don’t make the cut!
4. Ensure your feet don’t have to ‘claw’ to keep the shoe on mid stride