The Convertible High Heels Case Study

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends has asked him the question.

Dear Manolo,

As a passionate shoe-lover, I have recently been asked by a group of entrepreneur students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business to help them out to devise a business plan to create an adjustable height high heel shoe. The heel within the shoe would have the ability to elongate in order to create the first comfortable, all-purpose shoe for women.

While I think that is a very unique idea, I am not quite sure about its feasibility. You would need to design a flexible sole and the heel itself would probably require a clunky design. All in all, I feel like a heel/flat
2-in-1 shoe would be innovative, but it loses the elegance and sophistication of a heel. Women choose to wear heels for a reason to begin with, and if they know they want to switch out of those heels while out, they may also toss a pair of flats in their purse.

I wanted to get your perspective on this 2-in-1 shoe idea. What do you think in terms of feasibility? Attractiveness? After all, you are Manolo, master of shoes!

Thank you and best regards,


Ayyyy! The Manolo’s first response is that this shoe, it is has already been made! Twice!

One version of such the shoe is called the Camileon Heel...

Camileon Heels Convertible Heels

Camileon Heels

And, yet another is called the iloh adjustable heel.

Of the course, to the Manolo, neither solution is especially elegant or desirable, and one naturally wonders about the durability of the mechanism, and about whether or not it is stable enough for the long periods of use.

And, from what the Manolo can tell, neither of the companies cited above have had overwhelming success with their products. If one takes the closer look at these two companies, especially the shops whom it is claimed stock these shoes, one will likely find that the shoes have not been the best sellers.

The problem here is as exactly as the Manolo’s friend Lisa has said. It is not that such ideas are not clever, for they are very clever, but rather that they ignore the fundamental reasons that the high heeled shoes are purchased: to make us more appealing and sexy.

The most desirable high-heeled shoes are items of fantasy and wish. They appeal to us because they promise us so much. These shoes are often so desirable that they cause us to relegate the matters of comfort and practicality to the status of tertiary considerations.

And so the Manolo would say, that unless one can make the convertible shoe that is intrinsically beautiful and desirable, and much less goofy and gimmicky, one would have little chance success in the shoe business.

The much, much better idea for the business would be to design the line of handsome and beautiful shoes that deliver great comfort. As the enormous success of the Taryn Rose proves, if you can achieve this, you will make yourself very rich.

Of the course, this is the wickedly difficult undertaking, and in some respects the Holy Grail of the shoe business, which is why it has so rarely been achieved.