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Every parent’s dream: expandable children’s shoes that fit long enough to be worn are on the way

No more trips to the shoe store during school holidays! Expandable children’s shoes that adapt to growing feet are hitting the high street stores

  • British company launches shoe for under 7s that expands by a size and a half
  • Shoe brand Pip & Henry develops a €80 shoe with a sole extension mechanism
  • The stretchable material and extendable bottom double the lifespan of children’s shoes
  • John Lewis Green Fund gives manufacturer £250,000 to fight ‘throw away culture’
  • Nine out of ten shoes out of 80 million bought in the UK each year end up in landfill

A stretchy children’s shoe that stretches a size and a half could soon appear in UK stores.

The shoe brand Pip & Henry is developing the new invention for children under the age of seven, the age at which children’s feet grow the fastest.

Founder Jeroo Doodhmal said the mechanism could double the lifespan of the shoes. Toddler shoe sizes change about three times a year.

The out-of-the-box idea is funded by John Lewis, who gave Pip & Henry £250,000 through his £1million green fund.

Stretchy material in the upper and a locking mechanism in the sole lengthen the shoe

Stretchy material in the upper and a locking mechanism in the sole lengthen the shoe

Ms Doodhmal, 38, told The Guardian: “I think we’re about a year away from it being in stores.

“We need to test the prototypes and then take them to industry experts to get their feedback… and then develop a final concept that’s ready for commercial launch.”

Pip & Henry’s sustainable children’s shoes cost £60 – and the expanded range would likely cost £20 more, the founder said.

“My goal is to keep costs as low as possible,” she explained.

Every year Brits buy 80 million pairs of shoes - 85 percent end up in landfill (file image)

Every year Brits buy 80 million pairs of shoes – 85 percent end up in landfill (file image)

The entrepreneur came up with the idea while watching Blue Planet with her little daughter.

She said: “On the one hand I was showing her Blue Planet and trying to get her inspiration from nature, but on the other hand she was outgrowing clothes and shoes faster than I could effectively recycle them.”

Design suggestions include an extendable sole with a puzzle-style interlocking mechanism.

“The funding is substantial enough to take us all the way,” added Ms. Doodhmal.

“I am very confident that we will be able to develop something really valuable and robust.”

Brits buy 80 million pairs of shoes every year – 60 million of them for children.

More than 85 percent ends up in landfill, Ms Doodhmal said.

She said: “We’re not going to move the needle on this 85 [per cent] if we don’t bring this concept to the mass market.

John Lewis sustainability director Marija Rompani said the Circular Future Fund, which has also given money to Scottish libraries and the University of Leeds, could have “real impact”.

She said: “Our throwaway culture and the waste it creates is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we will face in our lives, and tackling it requires a different way of thinking.”

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Bradford Betz

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