When it comes to personalized footwear, it doesn’t get much more custom than letting consumers create their own design from scratch.
That’s exactly the plan for pxl., a new, digitally-native e-commerce brand that doubles as a product creation platform. For its first act, the company will produce completely personalized footwear designed from the sole up by consumers on its digital platform.
Initially, the business will be divided between pxl.gallery and pxl.studio, where users can access a “modular design system” that is capable of creating more than 48 billion style variations, according to the company. In pxl.’s gallery, users can choose from every product ever made in the studio, as each new creation will be automatically cataloged in the system.
Described as both a place to find design inspiration and a “social network portal,” the gallery will also include 360-degree 3-D images of each design, taken with pxl.’s imaging technology before the product is shipped out to its creator.
“Our custom developed technology platforms and manufacturing supply chains work in harmony—creating a branded ecosystem of virtual design, digital content, and physical product experiences. Design It. Share It. Wear It,” pxl. founder Micah Heftman said in a statement. “With the launch of the pxl. shoes Kickstarter campaign we’re not only giving our users the chance to buy incredible and unique products—we’re inviting them to partner with us in bringing a new vision of consumerism to the footwear market.”
Heftman founded pxl. in 2017 and the brand has since been working to partner with the right factories and vendors to allow its footwear to move smoothly from consumer-led concept design to a real-world product they can hold in their hands. Previously, Heftman has worked as a product development and production manager for brands like Cole Haan, Coach, the Camuto Group and John Varvatos.
While it will initially launch on Kickstarter, following its fundraising period pxl. said it anticipates a three-month-long incubation phase that will allow it to ramp up inventory in preparation for its initial rollout. Once it reaches full production capacity, pxl. said users can expect a turnaround time—from design to shipment—within a month. Heftman said it took his team around 16 months to set up a supply chain sophisticated enough to execute his idea.
“This Kickstarter campaign is the culmination of an idea I had over 20 years ago: enable consumers to design their own products through a modular creation platform. From inception, I believed my idea had merit but I couldn’t see the path forward. So I set out to cut my own path, to learn everything I needed to focus my vision and execute my idea,” Heftman said.
Companies like Sketchfab and Nike have already invested in the idea of 3-D-technology-based customization on digital platforms, but pxl. will be one of the first that will launch with the concept as part of their core business model. Other companies, like custom footwear, apparel and wearables brand, Wiivv, have invested in 3-D modeling to provide consumers the ultimate bespoke fit. Wiivv expects to be able to “mass-customize” such products by 2020.