Tanya Heath is on a double mission: to prove women can wear heels without ruining their feet. Her answer to their plight, a heel that switches from high to low, is being made entirely in France. The Paris-based Canadian designer started with a simple idea. When your shoes start to hurt — during a party, a wedding or a workday — press a button in the sole, slot out your dressy high heel and replace it with a version better suited for walking. “My shoe is designed to be sexy — but on a woman’s terms. You can do your two-hour meeting, and then just take off your high heel,” the 42-year-old explained at the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris this month.
This fruit of three painstaking years of research is the world’s first multi-height heel, a patented luxury leather shoe that switches seamlessly from nine to four centimetres (3.5 to 1.5 inches). From pastel pink patent sandals to strappy dancing shoes or demure lace-ups, with either stilettos or chunky heels, high or low, the shoes are pitched at the high end of the market, starting at around R17,300.
A passionate heel-wearer herself, Heath’s project was born partly out of personal experience, having suffered foot deformations from heels, like an estimated 38 percent of women worldwide do.