BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to footwear and in particular to footwear having an interchangeable modular system of stackable soles which can be attached in any desired number of layers and any desired color and style configuration for customizable footwear.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Footwear is usually purchased in a finished state from shoe stores, department stores and various other outlets selling shoes. What you see is what you get. There is very little opportunity if any to add your own sense of style or individual expression to the footwear.
The footwear is usually a specific type with a certain thickness of sole and thickness of heel that is not alterable. To change the height of the footwear, you have to switch to a different pair.
When footwear wears out normally you have to take them to a cobbler to have the soles and heels replaced or throw them away. Often putting a new sole on the footwear actually causes the width to narrow due to the attaching means of the new soles. It can also be somewhat expensive for such repairs and often damaging to the footwear.
While there have been a number of attempts to offer flexibility in footwear with replaceable soles or heels or other parts of the footwear, including the ability to use different soles for different purposes, this is usually done only for sports shoes with different sole options for different sports or different weather conditions.
Some prior art patents have addressed the interchangeable sole and heel question, but none provide a very wide range of change possibilities.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,538,628, issued Nov. 10, 1970 to Einstein, shows replaceable soles for shoes that have downwardly pointing pins with enlarged heads that insert into holes in the soles to secure the soles along with mating hook and loop fasteners between the sole and the shoe.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,151,801, issued Nov. 28, 2000 to Frederiksen, provides a sandal including a sole portion having a front end and a rear end and a pair of sides. The sole portion is comprised of a plurality of layers of elastomeric material including a planar lower layer, an angling intermediate portion, and an upper layer adapted to receive the foot of a wearer thereon. The sole portion includes a plurality of intermediate layers. The upper layer is provided with a pair of longitudinal slits adjacent to the rear thereof and four circular holes adjacent to the front thereof. A top strap has an upper section positionable over the instep of a wearer's foot and a lower section positioned through the slits and extending there beneath. The strap has four apertures adjacent to the forward edge thereof in the upper portion. Two cords with four central extents each have two upper extents extending through associated apertures of the strap and two lower extents looped around the holes in the upper layer. Four cylindrical sleeves encompass the cords.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,533,280, issued Jul. 9, 1996 to Halliday, puts forth footwear with interchangeable components that includes a base footing supporter, an interchangeable middle sole, an interchangeable insole, an interchangeable base interlocker, an interchangeable ridge connector, and an interchangeable upper member. The interchangeable middle sole is removably mounted to the base footing supporter so that the interchangeable middle sole can be readily changed by user according to user preference. The interchangeable insole is removably mounted to the interchangeable middle sole so that the interchangeable insole can be readily changed by user according to user preference. The interchangeable base interlocker is removably mounted to the base footing supporter so that the interchangeable base interlocker can be readily changed by user accordingly to user preference. The interchangeable ridge connector is removably mounted to the interchangeable insole so that the interchangeable ridge connector can be readily changed by user according to user preference. And, the interchangeable upper member is removably mounted to the interchangeable base interlocker so that the interchangeable upper member can be readily changed by user according to user preference.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,454, issued Feb. 12, 2002 to Cotton, shows a shoe (20) having a removable sole includes an upper (22) and a removable lower sole (34). The upper has an upper sole (24), a heel portion (26), and a toe portion (28). Upper sole (24) has a plurality of upwardly opening alignment holes (30). A lock tab (32) is connected to toe portion (28) and forwardly projects therefrom. The removable lower sole (34) has a heel portion (36) and a toe portion (38). A rearwardly opening slot (40) disposed in toe portion (38) is shaped and dimensioned to receive lock tab (32). Removable lower sole (34) has a plurality of upwardly protruding alignment pins (42) which are engageable with alignment holes (30) in upper sole (24). Lower sole (34) is held in place by inserting lock tab (32) into the rearwardly opening slot (40) in the toe and engaging connector (44) to connect heel portion (26) of upper (22) to heel portion (36) of lower sole (34).
U.S. Pat. No. 5,661,915, issued Sep. 2, 1997 to Smith, claims a shoe with a removable spike plate. A shoe includes a spike plate with spikes thereon, removably attached to a sole portion of the shoe to permit selective removal of the spike plate. The shoe includes a rib extending around the peripheral side wall of the sole, and the spike plate includes an upright wall extending around a peripheral edge of a base plate, the spike plate wall having a groove formed on an interior surface thereof cooperable with the rib to selectively connect the spike plate to the shoe. The spike plate includes a forward section pivotally connected to a rearward section along a transverse axis, to permit the forward section to pivot downwardly generally orthogonal to the rearward section of the spike plate.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,875,300, issued Oct. 24, 1989 to Kazz, describes a track shoe with a detachable spike plate by the use of plastic spikes. This invention is a track shoe comprised of an upper, an outsole and a spike plate. The outsole, made of an elastic material, has a bottom surface similar to the bottom surface of the spike plate. The bottom surface of the outsole, in addition, has spike receiving sockets where plastic spikes fit in and attach a detachable spike plate. The spike plate has seven apertures to allow for the insertion of seven plastic spikes which hold the spike plate to the outsole. The spike plate can be replaced by exchanging spike plates. The plastic spikes are designed to be lighter and more cost effective than steel ones, yet as easy to replace by the use of a common spike wrench.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,377,042, issued Mar. 22, 1983 to Bauer, discloses footwear having a removable sole. Athletic shoes with removable outsoles are disclosed. Each upper is designed to fit an individual foot and ankle of a particular wearer and such upper is provided with an insole securely and permanently connected therewith. Each insole terminates along its peripheral margin with one part of a bead-and-recess mechanically detachable locking member. A removable outsole is provided with a surface contacting tread which is selected to not only best match the surface of a particular sports area but also the condition of such surface at a particular time of use. A flexible member is permanently connected with the outsole and terminates along its peripheral margin with the other part of the mechanical locking member. The outsole and the insole are further connected together by mating Velcro and Duallock members, tongues and grooves carried by the outsole and insole in paired relations, and other interlocking means. The forms and shapes of the bead and recess parts of the bead-and-recess mechanically detachable locking member are illustrated and described.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,062,132, issued Dec. 13, 1977 to Klimaszewski, indicates footwear having a replaceable heel and sole. Footwear having a body portion receptive of a person's foot during use and a replaceable tread portion. The tread portion is releasably locked into the body portion by a flange having gripping members on the inner peripheral surface. The tread portion has a hollowed top portion having an outer peripheral surface with gripping apertures therein in which the gripping members are received. The outer peripheral surface of the hollowed top portion is closely received in the flange and the tread portion is thus prevented from moving both laterally and perpendicularly thereby.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,974,344, issued Dec. 4, 1990 to Ching, concerns a shoe with an interchangeable vamp and sole which comprises a sole (10) with a heel (11) which an air inlet guide (14) is formed in and with an air inlet hole (111) located at the bottom, exposed portion; a guide hole (141) located at the inside, near the rearmost of the portion of the sole (10); a receiving channel (12) with a channel inlet (121) and a channel cavity (122); a plurality of annular segments (13) which are put in the channel cavity (122); an upper-shoe assembly (20) which has a vamp (21), an insole (22); a welt (211) which extends downward from the connected portion of the vamp (21) and the sole (22), a gas bladder (24) with an air inlet (241) and a bladder glove (23); by inflating or deflating the gas bladder (24), the vamp and the sole could be interchanged with the same size of device.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,311,413, issued Nov. 6, 2001 to Chern, illustrates a replaceable elastic air cushion shoe structure which includes a sole, and a vamp. The sole has a top provided with a plurality of oblique conical locking grooves and having a periphery provided with a plurality of waterproof ribs. The sole has a periphery defining a plurality of locking recesses each provided with a catch piece. The vamp has a bottom provided with a plurality of oblique conical locking blocks each locked in the locking groove of the sole. The bottom of the vamp defines a plurality of waterproof slots for receiving the waterproof ribs of the sole therein so that the vamp is integrally formed with the sole. A plurality of U-shaped snapping pieces are each secured in the bottom of the vamp and each have two sides each provided with a hook. A plurality of snapping knobs are each detachably secured on the snapping piece and each include a press button secured in the locking recess and locked by the catch piece of the sole, and a snap pivotally mounted on the press button and snapped on the hook of the snapping piece.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,317,294, issued Mar. 2, 1982 to Goodyear, is for a replaceable shoe sole comprised of a mid-sole, which is securely attached to the upper portion of the shoe, and an out-sole removeably attached to the mid-sole. The upper surface of the out-sole is provided with a continuous ridge which is snapped into a matching, deformably resilient groove recessed into the bottom surface of the mid-sole. The configuration of the ridge and the resiliency of the out-sole and the mid-sole material, which is preferably a polyurethane resin or foam, permits the out-sole to be easily and selectively removed and replaced by an out-sole having a new or distinctive tread pattern, the replaced out-sole being reusable if desired. The ridge on the out-sole is provided with an undercut portion to provide secure retention of the out-sole in the mid-sole, although the specific cross sectional shape of the ridge may vary depending upon the retentiveness required by a particular activity.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,279,083, issued Jul. 21, 1981 to Dilge, is for a shoe construction including a shoe body which is conventional except that it does not include a shoe sole, a first layer of material fixed to the undersurface of the shoe body, a second layer of material for attaching to and detaching from the first layer of material, and a shoe sole fixed to the second layer of material. The first and second layers of material include means such as velcro for enabling attachment and detachment of the two layers. With this construction, when a shoe sole becomes worn, it can be detached from the shoe body and replaced by a new shoe sole.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,114,296, issued Sep. 19, 1978 to Smith, is about a shoe adapted for facile interchangeability into a multiplicity of styles comprising an outsole having a heel portion, with there being an intervening zone of flexure therebetween. Forward and rearward inner soles are provided on said outsole and with their adjacent end portions in overlapping relationship for relative slidability during foot movement. A retaining strap extending lengthwise of the shoe serves to optionally maintain a rear upper in operative position as well as to promote integration of the shoe components in selected mode of wear. A readily widthwise adjustable front upper or vamp is detachably mounted upon the forward portion of said outsole and replaceable by a thong detachable to the forward portion of the sole.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,317,822, issued Jun. 7, 1994 to Johnson describes an athletic shoe with an interchangeable wear sole which can be selected to match a specific sport, is disclosed. An upper portion of the athletic shoe is designed for an individual foot of a particular wearer. This upper portion of the athletic shoe contains an attached upper sole which has molded on the bottom surface a plurality of strategically placed protruding resilient knobs and a protruding resilient edge rail which engages knob chambers and a rail slot located on the upper surface of the wear sole. VELCRO surface on the upper sole and the wear sole also are engaged. Interlocking devices on the edge of the upper sole and wear sole are pinned together. The above combination holds the selected wear sole firmly on the upper sole attached to the upper portion of the athletic shoe.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,745,693, issued May 24, 1988 to Brown, provides a shoe having an upper portion and a sole-and-heel portion which portions are releasably joined together by a circumferential zipper connection means.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,019,534, issued Feb. 6, 1962 to Kauffman, is for shoes with interchangeable soles and heels that have transverse tongue and groove patterns allowing the soles and heels to slide sideways on and off the shoes.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,902,259, issued Sep. 2, 1975 to Cracco, provides a sandal assembly with five interchangeable elements which assemble together to form the sandal.
None of the prior art really addresses the need for complete flexibility in being able to change color, style, and height of footwear as well as materials and other features.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is to provide a wide range of flexibility in footwear design, style, height, color, and materials.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a modular system of soles for shoes to create a multilevel stackable sole which can easily be altered as desired for the appearance or characteristic desired.
One more object of the present invention is to provide footwear that is changeable in height and types of materials to put the footwear to different uses according to the desired degree of elevation and softness or hardness of the soles.
In brief, a multilayer interchangeable system of modular stackable footwear elements including decorative or functional bottom soles and intermediate interchangeable sole modules that are quickly and easily added to and removed from a stack arrangement of any desired height, color, shape, or material attached to the bottom of a shoe, sandal, boot, or other type of footwear.
Intermediate sole core modules comprise essentially flat interlocking pieces that are stackable and lock together using insertable pins in mating holes and mating hook and loop fasteners for quick assembly and disassembly. Each core module has at least two spaced guides or locking pins extending from one side of the core unit and at least two mating spaced holes in the opposite side and mating configurations of mating hook and loop fastening means attached to the two sides of each core module, so that when two core modules are interconnected the guides or locking pins of one core module engage and are secured in the mating holes of the adjacent core module and the hook fastener configuration of one core module engages the mating loop configuration of the adjacent core module to form two layers in the pattern of the built-up sole.
The top component of the footwear of the invention has a normal top configuration of a sandal or thong, shoe, boot, or other conventional footwear and a bottom configuration to mate with a core module having either protrusions or holes and having either hooks or loops.
The bottom component of the footwear of the invention has a normal bottom configuration of a sole of a sandal or thong, shoe, boot, or other conventional footwear and a top configuration to mate with a core module having either protrusions or holes and having either hooks or loops.
The core modules and bottom and top components can each be fabricated of a variety of materials in a variety of colors and patterns and outline shapes, which may all be combined in any desired combination for a truly unique look created by each individual for his or her footwear.
An advantage of the present invention is that footwear of unique styles, colors, shapes, heights, designs, and other configurations can be created.
Another advantage of the present invention is that soles and design configurations can be changed quickly and easily.