Prime cuts: If the shoe fits

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At this year’s Plastic Industry Awards, John Ewans Design (JED) received the ‘Consumer Product Design of the Year’ for the rather innovative Active Tools 2K Adjustable Rowing Shoe.

Traditional rowing shoes are made in the same way as normal training shoes and have to be manufactured in a range of sizes. As the shoes are fixed to the boats this causes problems as rowers either have to put up with shoes that are the wrong size or change them before going afloat, which is time consuming. The shoes also can’t be dried out or cleaned easily so they rapidly become both smelly and unhygienic.

JED were briefed to create adjustable, washable rowing shoes that would address this market gap. The new Active Tools 2K Rowing Shoes address these problems by being adjustable from UK size 9 to 14 and having their outer shells moulded from a soft EVA/TPO foam, so they can be washed and kept clean and hygienic. The shoes are silver to reduce heat gain in hot climates.

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Shoe chassis developed in CAD

JED designed and prototyped the shoes and then identified a manufacturer for the EVA foam parts. This was difficult as the material is only moulded in India and the Far East and most manufacturers produce copycat products and lack the technical expertise for mouldings of this complexity.

Vacuum resin cast prototype

The Active Tools 2K Rowing Shoes were launched in spring 2010 and are now sold throughout the world. The fist major customer was the UK National Rowing squad who bought them for their new recruits who are generally extremely tall and often have very large feet!

“We were extremely pleased to have won against such stiff competition and excited that the innovative aspects of the shoes had been recognised,” said John Ewans, managing director of JED, who has himself more than 30 years of rowing experience.

Development sketches


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