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Why keep buying shoes every year? Or every few months as some reckless people apparently do. Why not issue every child of initial shoe-wearing age with a pair of shoes-for-life? These shoes can basically be telescoped outwards as the foot in question grows. Basically a slightly larger front part, fitted
over a smaller inner shoe, perhaps on small slotted runners. The outer telescoping part would need to be semi-permanently fixed - the fixing could form part of the design of the shoe - studs, buttons etc. As the foot grows enough, the fastening is undone, the outer part slid(den?) forward a little and then re-fastened.
Feet do not seem to increase in width quite so drastically during the course of life, so width adjustment could be by means of some kind of elasticated-gubbins. Also, to accommodate certain finicky users' fashion requirements, "skins" could be made available for personalisation, perhaps attachable by velcro.
Soles would of course have to be specially toughened (perhaps using the diamond-coating idea mentioned on this site).
This idea is very partially baked - I saw a pair of expandable childrens shoes in a Japanese in-flight magazine recently, but they increased in length only, and by just a few centimetres.
The idea with the diamond soles [faffer, Oct 26 2005]
||I'm not in favour of this idea, except I do like the idea of shoe skins - invest in an expensive made-to-measure sole and cheaper covers a la mobile phones.
||I doubt you can make a pair of shoes that last 2 years under my daily use, much less "life".
||You've not had much use for duct tape until now?