Veterans of the shoe industry are introducing a new brand of rather sophisticated comfort shoes, Backjoy, describing it as the first “personal wellness shoe” in the market. It was successfully launched in the U.S. last August. It will be shown at the GDS fair in Düsseldorf, starting tomorrow, for distribution in the European market.
Backjoy shoes are specially designed to enhance the wearer's posture, explained Wil van Bakel, a 63-year-old physiologist and biomechanical expert who has been studying human movement for 35 years, in a technical presentation made at the Slem conference in Eindhoven in December. Carefully engineered, they offer differentiated areas of support for an optimal “gaitline.” They also feature specially shaped and patented pads made of “pressure relief materials” in the forefoot and the heel for “active stability,” guiding the wearer into the right position and providing comfort when standing for a long time.
Van Bakel worked over the years on several projects for big names such as Adidas, Nike and Crocs. A former president and chief executive of Crocs, Ron Snyder, and a former European director of the brand, Dick Wijsman, have both invested in the project. Snyder did it as a partner in an American investment firm, Sandbridge Capital, that acquired a minority stake in Backjoy Orthototics last November to help accelerate its development of proprietary new posture-supporting footwear and apparel lines.
Backjoy has become famous because of its patented development of a peculiar orthopedic seat that allows the body to naturally correct its posture, eliminating any back pain. It has been particularly successful in Asia, and it has developed well in Europe over the last three years under Wijsman's management. Some of the distributors of the seat will also be the distributor of the shoe as well as of a new line of pillows already sold in the U.S. under the same name.
Wijsman, who is now 55 years old, is the Dutchman who launched Teva and Ugg in Europe many years ago, working as Deckers Outdoor Corporation's first European director since 1992. He ran Crocs Europe between 2005 and 2009.