Symmetry in footwear design?

I was looking at some of my shoes and studying their shape. What I want to know is how come some shoes are almost symmetrical, like a car where left and right side is mirror image.

Then there are others shoes that are extremelly asymmetrical and follow the foot shape more accurately. Some of the Puma ones can be quiet extreme and narrow in the middle.

Should I safely assume the shoe category plays a big part in this and casual/ fashion shoes can be more symmetrical where as performance shoes more asymmetric? Enlighten me please.

While I am at it what is the science behind tread patterns and tread materials so that the shoe grips the ground (concrete, tarmac, wet surface etc) well? Any definite source that you can reccomend that I could use as as reference?

I remember a good few years ago I had a futuristic looking Reebok shoe and visually the tread pattern looked decent, in real life usage though it was like walking on ice. I think some people even sued Reebok back in the day for that. I fell few times myself. It was predominently blue in colour with a white foam arch thing on the sides.

doesn´t work like that,if you cut off a line just in the middle of the shoe you´ll see that the inner side is shorter than outerside.normally this doesn´t affect the way you draw or design a shoe…another thing is to get or try to make the patterns.

Sorry I did not understand your post fully. Are you saying

1- That the Adidas shoe is also asymmetric from the outside. I mean yes it’s not 100% symmetric but it’s almost there in comparison to some of the other extreme asymmetric shoes.


2- Do you mean that on the inside it’s more asymmetric than it looks from the outside? Meaning if I cut the shoe with a band saw I would see the padding internally makes it lot more asymmetric?

casual shoes have less of an extreme angle for the toe angle.

Athletic shoes have a more extreme angle for higher performance.

All shoes are asymmetrical, the pattern for the Lateral (outside) and medial (inside) is very different (not inside of the shoe, but the side of the shoe close to your other foot… make sense?).

That said, consumers tend to like shoes that are pretty symmetrical, at least from the vamp forward. The Jordan xIII is a good example of a successful assymetrical shoe. The Nike Footscape is a great example of a shoe totally built around the asymmetries of the foot. Super comfortable, but it never caught on beyond niche appeal.

Thanks Yo!

That said, consumers tend to like shoes that are pretty symmetrical

Yo would there be any advantage to then building a symmetrical shoe on the outside but internally completely built around the asymmetries of the foot?

That would seem to make sense, but from the midfoot forward a shoe is essentially the shell (outside surface) and a thin lining adhered together and sometimes not even that. To put another shel over an asymmetric shell would double the weight, the cost of materials, the cost of labor, and I think it would not flex or move well nor breathe.

What you will find are subtle asymmetries. In the upper of an expensive performance shoe you will see the collar heights are often 8-10mm offset to compensate for the asymmetry of your ankle. Why not just do this for every shoe? Quality control, it is less labor to make sure something is about the same than to make sure it is perfectly offset.

You will find a lot of asymmetries in the tooling (midsole and outsole), for example, I like to remove much of the rubber out of the arch of the medial side. You don’t need thee traction there, (when was the last time you saw any wear from the arch of your shoe), it reduces weight, and saves on materials. I will also wrap the toe bumper further on the medial side where you might drag your toe, and radius the medial side of the fore foot so the shoe naturally tends to roll as you push off, and sharpen the forefoot of the lateral side to add stability when you move side to side in court sports.

There are a lot of small design decisions that add up to a shoe that feels good.