In sports, athletic research guides innovation and advances in technology in creating a smarter, better performing shoe.
However, pointe shoe manufacturing has been almost entirely immune to this process. Modern day pointe shoes are relics of the past, lacking any of the innovations of its sports-shoe counterpart.
It is almost funny to point out that Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, engineered to reduce injuries and have a longer lifespan are commonly referred to as the ‘Nike Pointe Shoe’. Before dancers are unable to break the shank, like with a normal pointe shoe, the foot often doesn’t look as pretty. (Unless you are Gillian Murphy).
The Threat of the Domino Effect
The ballet world is constantly in danger of folding in on itself. With each retired shoe maker, roughly 500 ballet dancers need to find a new maker. This process is much trickier than it seems, and many will simply refuse to wear shoes not by their maker. It is with much reluctance and trial and error that they find a new shoe maker. However, image a fire started by one of the machines in the factory. One small factory in East London with two dozen shoe makers gone, and the ballet world would simply grind to a halt.
Where do the materials come from?
A while ago I found text supporting that the satin comes Scotland. I recently found text written by someone who went on a tour from the factory who said that the leather mostly comes from South America, but also from goat’s kids skin in Scotland! Yikes. (However, it does appear the goat leather is only used on non pointe shoes).
After shoes are ‘dead’ it is possible to donate them to the Secondary Materials & Recycled Textile Association. There are usually Recycle Textile stands at local farmers markets that will accept them. One dancer said that they also make perfectly fine chew toys for dogs.