WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Designing fashion footwear to be made on a 3D printer requires tossing out a lot of conventional wisdom about shoemaking. At least a hundred years' worth of thinking, in fact.
"We really had to look into pre-industrial ways of making shoes, in order to make the first post-industrial shoe," says Elias Stahl.
The result? A product that perfectly fits the shopping moment and Portland environmental ethics: a personalized shoe that is remotely tailored to the customer's measurements, that requires no inventory until the order is placed, and that can be disassembled and recycled.
The company? Hilos, the winner of this year's PitchfestNW, presented by WW. On Dec. 4, a panel of judges crowned the company, co-founded by Stahl and Gaia Giladi, from a field of 60 startups.
Stahl and Giladi moved to Portland to start Hilos, wanting to be near the footwear giants Nike and Adidas. But in this interview with WW news editor Aaron Mesh, Giladi says the most revolutionary part of their product is the willingness to combine tech and fashion in the first place.
"If a man is making tech products," she asks, "why would he think to make a high heel more comfortable?"