Convertible High Heels


June 4, 2004

Sophie Cox

Sophie Cox

Image Gallery (7 images)

High heels are the only acceptable form of shoe for females on a formal occasion, and are almost mandatory in a business power dressing, yet they are very uncomfortable and casue long term health issues. How many times have you seen women walking to work in sensible shoees carrying high heels in their handbag? A new design for adjustable high heels could solve the problem. This shoe solution converts a high 7 cm heel to a low 3 cm heel with one simple twist on/off action.

The Australian Design Awards ( are coming up again this year with the regular design awards exhibition at designEX on April 22-25 and the ADA Gala Dinner and Awards presentation on April 23.Each year the design awards attract more entries and become more prestigious, with 210 products entered this year seeking recognition for their investment in professional design.

The products entered in this year's design awards can be viewed online and you can vote for the awards you think best online too (

Though the glamour of the Australian Design Awards is focussed on the bigger brands, the most exciting area of the event is that of the student awards. Each year the standard of ideas and the quality of the products displayed yields a plethora of ideas and a sea of new talent. The student award entries can also be seen online ( and for us, that's where the real excitement exists.

One classic example of the inventiveness of the students is the design of North Sydney UTS student Sophie Cox ( for adjustable high heels for women. Sophie's design is simple, innovative and in our experience addresses an issue which is very important to a lot of people.

Sophie's idea came to her when she wrote a Research Dissertation Paper for her university of technology Studies last year on the subject of the physical effects of high heels on women. The concept of the CONVERTIBLES (Adjustable High Heels) came from researching the paper.

'I was horrified when I looked into the physical problems which high heels cause in women,' Sophie told Gizmo. 'In many ways, it is a modern western form of foot-binding, where a social or cultural tradition creates long term health problems.

''It's unfortunate, but high-heeled footwear creates prolonged problems for wearer's feet, back and knees.

'On the other hand, high heels now play a very complex role in modern society and have become the only shoe accepted for women on formal occasions and the shoe of choice for women in business when they're in 'power dressing' mode.

''There's no question that when you put on a set of heels, you feel great. It's a psychological thing, but when you're working long hours in an office, you need comfortable attire. So sometimes, say, several times a day, you want your full high heels, and the rest of the time you want comfortable shoes."

The design of the heels flowed from there but it's always been a subject close to Sophie's heart. "As I went through school, I was never quite sure where I would end up - I wanted at different times to go into fashion, sculpture and I've always had a thing about shoes, and when it came time to specialise, I thought that the realm of industrial design gave me the opportunity to express it all."

Sophie will graduate just before the awards dinner in April, and will be embarking on a career in footwear design and manufacturing. We suspect it will be a very successful career.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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