A few weeks ago, I was checking the StyleWise inbox when a familiar name caught my attention. I opened the email to discover that my friend, Maggie, writer of this piece on badass grandmas, had recently started working for a local shoe company called OESH, and that they were interested in doing a collaboration (they provided these sandals for review).
This would have been exciting regardless, but it gets better. Not only does OESH produce the bulk of their shoes less than ten minutes from my house (in a town not known for manufacturing), they 3-D print the soles! They recently won a National Science Foundation grant to perfect their custom printers, which use biodegradable pellets instead of the traditional cording, making the process more efficient and less prone to error. OESH is also a woman owned, woman operated company where employees like Maggie actually fabricate the 3-D printers, design the shoes, and program the printers on site. Basically, it’s the coolest!
Maggie and owner, Casey (that’s Dr. Kerrigan to you – she was a tenured professor before quitting to start OESH), gave me a tour of the operation one muggy Saturday afternoon, showing me the ins and outs of printer maintenance and design and letting me know why OESH products are superior to traditional footwear, namely because the shape and internal structure of all OESH shoes were designed with 20+ years of studies on gait (the way people walk) in mind.
OESH makes injection-molded sneakers, too, and they’re careful to avoid the super toxic glues used in traditional footwear. They’re working on developing the right 3-D printed design for flats that won’t require glue at all. Almost all base materials are sourced in the US, as well, with many of the sandal strap varieties made in neighboring Waynesboro. The exception is the sneaker tops – they source those from China – because high performance athletic textiles just aren’t available in the US.