Eleanor Leinen calls it a “health crisis” steeped in a fashion choice. Millions of women across the country suffering from diabetes or foot conditions refuse to wear orthopedic shoes. One look at the options available, and it’s easy to see why.
“What’s out there now are solid colors; various tones of brown, black and white—and they have only just introduced reds and navies,” Leinen says. “The orthopedic shoe companies are trying to update their looks, but I don’t feel like it’s nearly enough.
“It has become a mission to get these shoes looking really great so women can walk down the street and feel like they’re not branded.”
If Leinen has her way, women no longer will have to sacrifice style for comfort. In October, the Hollywood resident’s design house, Walk Another Way, launched its first line of couture diabetic and orthopedic footware—Illusions. In order to create a fashionable alternative to the current trends in orthopedic footwear, Leinen enlisted designs from nine accomplished artists (out of 62 applicants). The line offers three different styles of couture designs—Resort Summer, Resort Winter and Evening—with all designs either hand-painted, airbrushed or a combination of both.
“We have created a line for people who really enjoy style,” she says. “We tried to create styles that appeal to all different kinds of palates: conservative, trendy, avant-garde.”
Leinen, a diabetic herself, knows the importance of properly caring for your feet. “There are 27 million diagnosed diabetics in the United States—and that number keeps growing,” she says. “Out of those, over a third are women.”
By having the footwear reinforced in the toe area and made to capture moisture, Leinen’s shoes cater to diabetics who commonly have problems with blood circulation, foot funguses, delayed healing of foot injuries and balance due to weight issues. In a worst-case scenario, these issues can lead to amputation.
Leinen assures that her line is not just for those affected by diabetes. She says that they were designed, as well, for those who suffer from a variety of different foot conditions, such as high and low arches, hammertoes and bunions.
On her website, Leinen offers a “Medical Condition Style Guide” which allows clients to choose the appropriate shoe for their particular ailment. “Even if you don’t have anything wrong with your feet but enjoy a comfortable walking shoe,” she says, “the shoes are extraordinarily well-made.”
Since the release of Illusions, Leinen has been flooded with positive feedback from satisfied customers. “One lady told me that she had her feet up in the dentist’s office and the dentist stopped and asked where she got her shoes from and another person said she was stopped by four people when she was in the supermarket” she says. “Trust me, for women who have to wear these types of shoes, they have never had that experience before.”
Eleanor’s Illusions line can be purchased on her website, www.WalkAnotherWay.com.