At first glance, the new sneaker from the footwear brand, Trace, is trendy as it is a unisex and minimalist model, produced in three colours with a characteristic speckled sole. However, the concept is out of the ordinary: the sneakers are available in pairs, but also individually. Anyone with dissimilar feet can order the sneaker in two different sizes, and anyone who wears a prosthetic leg can just buy one shoe.

In January 2019, this concept enabled Naomi Kamphorst and Carine Martinelli to win the Meester Koetsier Entrepreneur Award. The Dutch duo won 10,000 euros and turned their idea into a real brand. On the occasion of the launch of their label, Trace, in August, FashionUnited spoke with the founders via Zoom.

The Helsinki by Trace: a trendy sneaker for dissimilar feet

The idea for the sneaker started as a study project at TMO Fashion Business School, where Martinelli and Kamphorst graduated last year. Martinelli said: “We had to develop a fashion project with a group of ten people. In the group there was a friend of ours with two different size feet. Another girl turned out to have a height difference as well, as did one of our teachers. This gave us the idea for Trace. Platforms offering shoes for people with height differences have been around for some time. For example, there is the Onpaar website, or forums where consumers can exchange shoes. “But these are often ‘leftover’ shoes,” Martinelli explained.

Kamphorst and Martinelli set out to create a trendy shoe that can be ordered separately or in different sizes, and that would be produced in a more sustainable way. This resulted in the Helsinki, a sneaker made with vegan leather, recycled rubber and canvas made from 70 percent organic cotton and 30 percent recycled cotton. On top of that: for every sale, the duo have planted a tree somewhere in the world via OneTreePlanted. Martinelli and Kamphorst also deliver emissions-free bicycles in the vicinity of Utrecht and Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Trace sneakers are on presale until the end of September. Until then, they cost 79.95 euros per pair. After that, they cost 99.95 euros per pair. Some shoes are available at half the price. An additional charge of 15 euros applies for the purchase of a single shoe, or two different sizes.