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Podiatrist Michele Summers is exchanging her prescription pad for a sketch pad.
This spring, she will launch 34 Minutes, a collection of high-end looks featuring a patent-pending comfort system.
According to Summers, she coined the brand’s name after a group of podiatrists surveyed 4,000 women and found that 34 minutes was amount of time it took for them to experience foot pain from wearing high heels. To help remedy the situation, she developed a series of fashion-driven looks featuring a built-in orthotic with arch support and heel-to-toe Poron. Included in the debut collection are ladylike ballet flats, open-toe slingbacks and 4-inch pumps with hidden platforms, all retailing from $180 to $270. “I like classics such as peep-toe pumps,” said Summers. “I’m trying to improve on what women are [already] wearing. I’ve made shoes pretty and sexy on the outside.”
Summers is just as hands-on when it comes to production. The shoes are made in a Pasadena, Calif., factory located minutes from her medical practice. “I want people to know the shoes are made in the U.S.,” she said, citing growing consumer interest in domestic goods. In addition, sourcing at a local factory allows her to offer smaller minimums, which can be desirable to independents.
Summers said she sees the upscale fashion-comfort market as a growing niche, and she aims to aid professional women who are on their feet all day. “I want to educate [women] and get the message out that feet don’t have to hurt in heels,” she said.
Michele Summers (above) collaborated with her sister Angela Summers, an artist and fashion designer, to create the line. The two come from an accessories background, learning from their father, a jewelry designer in the 1970s.
The number of surgical procedures performed by Summers has increased over the past several years, prompting her to come up with a solution to patients’ foot issues. She noted that some women have even asked to have their feet altered in order to fit into particular pairs of heels.
For La Creachia Carraway, owner of Simplyvelvet.com, having a podiatrist behind 34 Minutes enhanced its credibility. “What makes the collection so unique is having someone who understands and studies the importance of comfort and style,” she said.