by Karen Alberg Grossman
DIS founders Andrea Carpineti, Michele Luconi, Francesco Carpineti

Made-to-order and customization are among the few successful concepts at retail these days, especially for merchants who fear excess inventory and care about sustainability. (Made-to-order means zero waste since companies produce only what’s ordered.)

Enter DIS (an acronym for Design Italian Shoes), an innovative five-year-old Italian brand that recently created a unique 3-D digital process for measuring the foot and selecting among 50 million customization options for truly exclusive, perfect-fitting, luxury footwear, handcrafted by Italian artisans in the beautiful Marche region of central Italy.

The process works like this: using an app on an iPhone, laptop, or iPad, the customer (male or female) scans the foot and DIS proprietary software records three main measurements and 26 points of reference. Shoe styles (lace-ups, slip-ons, boots, sneakers, etc.) can then be customized according to the customer’s choice of leathers, colors, laces, and details; there’s even an option for engraved lettering on the sole! Although the production process involves 200 steps, delivery is a mere 14 business days from receipt of order. Retail prices range from $350 for sneakers to $2500 for exotic skins.

According to North America sales manager Vince Gonzales, while DIS can offer private label to upscale department stores, their focus is on better specialty stores who, for $500, can order a sample kit with extensive leather and color swatches as well as sample soles, heels, etc. Sample shoe models and matching belts can also be ordered for an additional fee.

Gonzales notes that custom orders come artfully wrapped and boxed, always with a satisfaction guarantee. For customers worried about fit, an algorithm developed by fit experts verifies the measurement accuracy before production begins. Still, wary customers can request advance try-on samples shipped to their homes at no charge. For retailers who prefer to carry inventory, DIS is famous for its extensive array of cool sneakers and, on the other end of the spectrum, a new collection of lightweight, flexible men’s formal footwear.

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