Footwear is an important yet often overlooked part of daily life. I’ve learned well in the past that the wrong pair of shoes can lead to a lot of pain if you’re on your feet a lot. That’s why I’ve always been rather particular when it comes to what I consider decent shoes.
KI Ecobe is an interesting product to look into when it comes to shoes. It claims to be the first self-assembled modular smart shoe that uses no toxic adhesives. Those are a lot of words, but what should they mean to the average consumer?
The winner of eight international design awards, the KI Ecobe is a fully customizable shoe with over 10,125 possible combinations. When put together in the KI app there is a choice between 15 KI strap colors, 15 KI in-boot colors, 15 shoelaces colors, and 3 outsole colors. The result is form-fitting footwear that can theoretically turn into a slipper, shoe, or sandal in an instant.
That’s a lot of impressive features on the surface, but there is more to look into beneath the sole. I want to dive in deeper and discuss every detail that the KI Ecobe has to offer.
KI Ecobe is designed as a way to disrupt the shoe-making process. According to the company’s Kickstarter campaign, it takes 3x’s as many people 6x’s longer to make a pair of traditional shoes compared to the KI Ecobe manufacturing process.
The KI Ecobe claims to specialize in being self-assembled modular footwear for humans. This eliminates a lot of the costs and difficulties in most shoes that are made in mass, but I wouldn’t say it gets rid of every potential problem. There is still the need to get the right size obviously, and some claims state that it is hard to judge what size of a KI Ecobe will fit just right.
KI Ecobe also claims that by eliminating the need for toxic adhesives it makes for a healthier, fume-free working environment for factory workers. This is a claim that I can’t dig deeper into myself, but it is one that I thought was worth bringing up.
At $99 KI Ecobe shoes are not cheep. There has to be a good reason to want to buy shoes at this cost, and while I can think of a few the customization is the only big feature that stands out to me.
If you’re looking for a multi-functional shoe that is fully customizable this is an amazing pair of shoes to get started with. The ability to personalize the shoe via KI’s online store sounded like the best possible deal, but seeing as there isn’t much of an online store to go to at this time it’s hard to get to this part.
While KI Ecobe claims to offer a selection of over 10,000 design combinations, getting the ability to select these styles is difficult at this time. Plenty of people have gotten El Ecobe shoes and enjoyed them, but I haven’t been able to dig up a recently active store page from my research.
The KI Ecobe shoes come with a removable in-boot that is washing-machine friendly and is capable of drying in a matter of minutes. Since the Ecobe is made without glue adhesive, wearers can, in theory, replace specific parts of the shoe after habitual use.
The process to do this is simply detaching the section you want to replace and recycling it accordingly. However, this may not be possible anymore without the ability to log onto KI’s website and place another order for an in-boot, outsole, insole, or new pair of shoelaces.
The durability of a shoe ensures that it won’t be worn down over the course of just a few months. With so many different parts customizable on the KI Ecobe it’s easy to wonder how this might affect the durability.
Having been lab-tested for durability at the Korean Institute of Footwear and Leather Technology, the KI Ecobe claims to be engineered to fit all sorts of foot types, wide to narrow. The Ecobe is available in women’s sizes 5 to 13.5 and men’s sizes 4 to 12.5.
If your foot is uniquely shaped, the flexible outsole and adjustable modular structure ensure a perfect fit. Since the shoe is modular, you have the option of replacing certain parts. This should make the transition between home, outdoors, or a day at the beach a seamless experience.
As a Kickstarter product that has been silent for a few years now, it’s hard to get your hands on a pair of KI Ecobe shoes. While it’s not the same story as a lot of other Kickstarter projects, as the shoes actually did make it into the hands of backers, there hasn’t been much in terms of a follow-up.
While there were claims by the creators that they would be setting more up in the future, the Kickstarter hasn’t had much mentioned in several years. People who have gotten their hands on the shoes seem to mostly love them, but without an easy way to get more of them, it’s hard to find a way to get them while still enjoying the customizability that they raised.
Pros And Cons
There are a lot of good parts to a pair of Ki Ecobe shoes. All that good I feel is overshadowed by a major negative. If you don’t already have a pair of them it’s hard to find one that is for sale.
Still, even with this stated, I feel it’s best to list out the general good and bad of the product to give the best impression possible of it.
- Winner of 8 International Design Awards
- No Toxic Adhesives
- 100% Recyclable
- Modular Shoe Design
- Durability Tested
- Difficult to Get Now
There is a lot I’ve seen people like about KI Ecobe shoes. The backers that got their hands on them enjoyed the products that they received, but anything beyond that has been hard to trace.
If production still has plans to continue, I haven’t found much evidence for it. With no word from the Kickstarter in a few years, and questions from some backers going unanswered for a while it’s hard to imagine that another shipment is planned for down the line.
If you by some chance come across the opportunity to get a pair, or if suddenly the production starts up again with the same level of quality, then I would recommend these shoes. They’re hard to come across, but if you manage to get lucky then it would at least be worth a shot.