Think of it sort of like NIKEiD meets LEGO. At launch, Miix will have a selection of base options that users can customize with their choice of insole/midsole components, heels, tongues, heel patches, straps and laces in a variety of colors and styles. The company’s tagline is “one shoe. 7+ million possibilities.”
I’ve had some hands and feet-on time with the shoes for the last few weeks, read on for my full review….
How does it work?
When you order a pair of Miix shoes, you pick from a number of components to essentially build your own shoe during the ordering process (as pictured below from the company’s website). Available to choose from at launch will be three base models available in a number of colors.
From there you can select a heel component in various color options, which will also determine if the shoes are low or high-tops. And you can also select your laces. The finished shoes will cost between $110 CAD and $180 CAD depending on the shoe and are available in men’s size 7 to 13 (US sizes).
But the idea is that users can continue to customize their Miix shoes by purchasing additional components including more heel parts, tongues, laces, straps, and heel patches. All of these parts are made to be relatively easily interchangeable, so you can in theory have a number of parts and bases and customize as you please, when you please.
I’ve had the shoes for a few weeks now leading up to the launch and have a few thoughts on the concept. The idea is cool, but my big question was could the company actually manufacture a quality shoe with interchangeable parts that is easy to use and not compromising in any way?
The modular components actually worked much better than I expected. The company managed to design the shoes in a way that once the shoe is completely built, you’d be hard-pressed to know that it isn’t just a regular sneaker.
The main components of the modular part of the shoe are the base, heel cup, and insole. The heel cup and insole attach to one another, and both then slide into the bottom of the base (as pictured above).
If you pick a short heel cup, the shoes become low-cut shoes, while swapping it for a taller heel cup will turn the shoes into high-tops. Interchangeable tongues attach to the base with an inconspicuous snap under the laces and a magnet for quick alignment. It’s all really easy for anyone to put together in a few minutes.
The other components including heel strap and heel patches simply attach to the shoe via a velcro patch on the back of the heel cup. And the various lace color options are self-explanatory, although the laces are actually part of the modular design, helping to hold together the taller heel cups to the base as the laces weave from one component into the next. That’s actually the longest part of the process when building the shoe— having to lace it up if you are changing out the heel cup— but that still only takes a minute.
The shoes use a technical TPU material with “no sew” tech and an engineered mesh, both are similar to what you’ve seen on sneakers in the $100 price range and overall are comparable in quality to bigger brands in the price range. I found the shoes to be comfortable too, and the various attachments for the modular components are designed in a way that you don’t really notice or feel them once the shoe is together.
Should you buy them?
In terms of quality of the shoe itself with the modular aspect aside, these are sort of what you’d expect from a $100 sneaker (the Miix shoes are made in China). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The pair I was testing was a pre-release version and so slightly rough around the edges of the rubber in some spots. But the company assured me the production release wouldn’t have those issues (and it’s actually something you see on a lot of sneakers in this price range being sold in stores).
Otherwise, the Miix sneakers are just about on par with any other $100 pair of sneakers from Nike or any of the other big players. That said, I’d personally prefer higher-quality materials used including leather beyond the more technical rubber materials used on my review unit, but I’d imagine that’s something in the company’s future if it does well on this initial lineup.
On top of playing to people who like the idea of customizing their sneakers, the other theory here is that people can upgrade or update their shoes and that might even give them a longer life in general. In other words, if your base or another part wears out or looks old, you can easily purchase just that part of the shoe and swap it out.
The company has a very good start in terms of its tech with the shoe I tested, but its next challenge is actually selling them based on the designs they came up with.
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