Title:
Footwear having interchangeable decorative straps and strips
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates in general to interchangeable decorative straps and strips for usage in combination with a footwear. The decorative straps and strips are secured to the exterior surface of the footwear by a loop and hook [VELCRO] fastener. This allows a user to wear a single pair of footwear with a variety of outfits by changing the overall physical appearance of the footwear with an assortment of interchangeable decorative straps and strips.

The assortment of interchangeable decorative straps and strips consists of various trimming-type decorations, and is preferably selected from the group consisting of beads, bows, flowers, fringe, zippers and colored fabrics or ribbons. Each of the assorted straps or strips is designed to coordinate with, i.e., to be aesthetically pleasing with, a variety of outfits so that the footwear may be used in conjunction with a number of different outfits.




Inventors:
Styles, Christi Ann (Simi Valley, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/480675
Publication Date:
01/03/2008
Filing Date:
07/01/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/100
International Classes:
A43B3/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050097784Split-soled golf shoeMay, 2005Campolo
20050102860Sports boot, particularly for skiing, skating or snow-boardingMay, 2005Sartor et al.
20070137065Inflatable sole for shoeJune, 2007Vera
20070062066Billet aluminum shoe and boot heelMarch, 2007Cirolia
20090183393Midsole of Masai Walking Specialized ShoesJuly, 2009Lee
20060201027SandalSeptember, 2006Wu
20060196082Modular heel assembly for high heel shoesSeptember, 2006Robbins
20080127525Charm attachable to an objectJune, 2008Blunden et al.
20100058613STRUCTURE OF BOTTOM OF SHOESMarch, 2010Im
20050081408Boot having a flexible outer wallApril, 2005Chaigne et al.
20080276493Dynamically Adustable Impact-Buffering Sports ShoeNovember, 2008Dunias



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Wu & Reddy, A Prof. Corp. (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A footwear comprising: a sole element having an upper surface configured to receive a wearer's foot and a lower surface configured to contact a support surface, the sole element further having a first side wall and a second side wall spaced from the first side wall, the side walls extending between the upper and lower surfaces; said sole element having slits defined therethrough; the first slit positioned opposed to the second slit along a linear axis extending between the first and second side walls; non-transparent indicia formed on top and bottom surfaces of said sole element; the upper element and the shoe element cooperate to form a footwear upper for receiving the foot; a topmost cover element sized and configured to cover said upper surface of said footwear upper and supporting an exposed topside for providing a primary decorative appearance to the footwear; non-transparent indicia formed on the bottom of said topmost cover element; said upper element is molded from a material which possesses memory which causes said upper element to return to its original molded distinctive shape upon removal of said topmost cover element; releasable fasteners for releasably attaching said topmost cover element to said top surface of said footwear upper; a plurality of said topmost cover elements for removable attachment to said footwear upper in accordance to user preference; and wherein said plurality of topmost cover element each provide a distinctive decorative appearance to the footwear when attached thereto.

2. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein an upper element having a pair of opposed ends disposed at least one inch into the first slit and second slit situated on the first and second side walls, the portion of upper elements mated and received in the slits is made of an elastic section that allows the distance between the opposed ends to be increased by stretching the elastic section; the end portions of said upper element each having front and rear edges with a central axis being defined midway between the edges and running lengthwise along the upper element;

3. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the sole element having slits defined therethrough, the first slit positioned opposed to the second slit along a linear axis extending between the first and second sidewalls and a third slit disposed on the frontal upper surface of said sole element equidistant to said first and second slits.

4. The footwear as recited in claim 3 wherein an upper element having a converging end connected to a pair of opposed ends disposed at least one inch into the first slit and second slit situated on the first and second side walls, said converging end disposed at least one inch into the third slit, the portion of upper elements mated and received in the slits is made of an elastic section that allows the distance between the opposed ends to be increased by stretching the elastic section; said upper element with the end portions disposed in said slits resembles a V-shaped configuration.

5. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said upper element is vertically integrated with said sole element in a boot-like footwear, and said upper element substantially disposed from the top edge to the bottom edge of said boot-like footwear along a vertical central axis.

6. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein said releasable fasteners comprise hook and loop fasteners.

7. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the upper element has a front to back width that is generally constant.

8. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the elastic section is at least partially disposed in the slit.

9. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the elastic section comprises a portion of elastic material and the remainder of the strap comprises a generally non-elastic material.

10. The footwear as recited in claim 9, wherein the remainder of the upper element comprises of a vinyl material.

11. The footwear as recited in claim 9, wherein the remainder of the upper element comprises a fabric material.

12. The footwear as recited in claim 9, wherein the remainder of the upper element comprises of a rubber material.

13. The footwear as recited in claim 9, wherein the remainder of the upper element comprises of a thermoplastic material.

14. The footwear as recited in claim 9, wherein the remainder of the upper element comprises of a leather material.

15. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the topmost cover element has an inner surface, an outer surface, and a front and rear edge, the inner surface having indicia thereon indicating which edge should be directed toward the front of the sole element and which edge should be directed toward the rear of the sole element when the topmost cover element is releasably attached to the upper element.

16. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the sole element is injection molded from a polymeric material.

17. The footwear as recited in claim 1, wherein the sole element further comprises a reinforcing member molded into the sole element adjacent to the upper limit of the slit to reinforce the slit.

18. The footwear as recited in claim 17, wherein said reinforcing element is composed of Kevlar and carbon fiber materials.

19. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein the sole element includes a footbed portion further comprises of a honeycomb-like construction.

20. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said releasable fasteners comprise hook and loop fastener.

21. The footwear as recited in claim 20 wherein said hook and loop fasteners include a hook component on said top surface of said upper element and a loop component on an underside of said topmost cover element.

22. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said topmost cover element is selected from a group consisting of beads, bows, flowers, fringe, zippers, colored fabrics or ribbons.

23. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different shapes.

24. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different materials.

25. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different colors.

26. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein the sole element includes a footbed portion composing of a foam material.

27. The footwear as recited in claim 26 wherein said footbed portion further comprises of a honeycomb-like construction.

28. The footwear as recited in claim 1 wherein the sole element includes a footbed portion composing of a Kevlar and carbon fiber materials.

29. The footwear as recited in claim 28 wherein said footbed portion further comprises a honeycomb-like construction.

30. A method of making interchangeable decorative straps and strips in combination with a footwear, said method comprising the steps of: providing a sole element having an upper surface configured to receive a wearer's foot and a lower surface configured to contact a support surface, the sole element further having a first side wall and a second side wall spaced from the first side wall, the side walls extending between the upper and lower surfaces; providing said sole element having slits defined therethrough; the first slit positioned opposed to the second slit along a linear axis extending between the first and second wide walls; providing a non-transparent indicia formed on top and bottom surfaces of said sole element; configuring the upper element and the shoe element cooperate to form a footwear upper for receiving the foot; providing a topmost cover element sized and configured to cover said upper surface of said footwear upper and supporting an exposed topside for providing a primary decorative appearance to the footwear; providing said topmost cover element has an inner surface, an outer surface, and a front and rear edge, the inner surface having indicia thereon indicating which edge should be directed toward the front of the sole element and which edge should be directed toward the rear of the sole element when the topmost cover element is releasably attached to the upper element; providing non-transparent indicia formed on the bottom of said topmost cover element; providing said upper element is molded from a material which possesses memory which causes said upper element to return to its original molded distinctive shape upon removal of said topmost cover element; providing releasable fasteners for releasably attaching said topmost cover element to said top surface of said footwear upper; providing a plurality of said topmost cover elements for removable attachment to said footwear upper in accordance to user preference; wherein said plurality of topmost cover element each provide a distinctive decorative appearance to the footwear when attached thereto; providing said releasable fasteners comprise hook and loop fasteners; providing said upper element having a front to back width that is generally constant; providing said elastic section is at least partially disposed in the slit; providing said elastic section comprises a portion of elastic material and the remainder of the strap or strip comprises a generally non-elastic material; providing said sole element further comprises a reinforcing member molded into the sole element adjacent to the upper limit of the slit to reinforce the slit; providing said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different shapes; providing said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different materials; and providing said plurality of topmost cover elements further comprise of different colors.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein: said remainder of the upper element are selected from a group consisting of vinyl material, fabric material, rubber material, thermoplastic material, and leather material.

32. The method of claim 30, wherein: said topmost cover element is selected from a group consisting of beads, bows, flowers, fringe, zippers, colored fabrics or ribbons.

33. The method of claim 30, wherein: said sole element includes a footbed portion composing of a foam material.

34. The method of claim 33, wherein: said footbed portion further comprises of a honeycomb-like construction.

35. The method of claim 30, wherein: said sole element includes a footbed portion composing of Kevlar and carbon fiber materials.

36. The method of claim 35, wherein: said footbed portion further comprises of a honeycomb-like construction.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates in general to footwear. More particularly, this invention relates to a footwear having interchangeable components incorporating a removable fastening system which enables a person to custom design their own footwear according to their individual needs.

2. Description of the Related Art

Footwear is typically purchased in a finished state from footwear specialty stores, department stores, and various other outlets selling shoes. The selection of footwear is limited to the present stock as displayed in the retail establishments. Thus, there is minimal opportunity to add your own sense of style or individual expression to the footwear.

The footwear is usually a specific type with a certain aesthetic appearance that is not alterable. To change the appearance of the footwear, one would have to switch to a different pair of footwear.

It may be desirable to have a large selection of different footwear when traveling so that a particular footwear can be matched to a particular traveling wardrobe. With the increased luggage restrictions imposed on airline passengers, it might not be practical for a traveler to carry between ten to twenty pairs of footwear. Ideally, in an effort to pack light, the traveler should carry as few pairs of footwear as possible. Accordingly, there is a need for a footwear which can be easily and conveniently changed in pattern, style, fabric, color, and overall appearance, thereby allowing the same footwear to be worn with many different outfits ranging from casual to formal.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,282,288, entitled “Athletic Shoe with Interchangeable Elements” to Tony R. Henson (hereinafter “Henson”) discloses an athletic shoe having interchangeable components for the customizing to the particular needs of a wearer. The wearer's weight, weight distribution, type and level of activity, and other variables are considered when determining the degree and location of support. The components may be permanently affixed to the athletic shoe by any selected method including ultrasonic welding. The components may alternatively be temporarily affixed to facilitate the selected interchanging thereof by the wearer. The athletic shoe includes a body portion which defines a sole member and an upper. A plurality of recesses are defined at selected locations by the sole for the receipt of sole inserts. Each sole insert provides a selected degree of support. The upper defines a plurality of indicia receiving regions. The indicia may be any selected by the wearer. The sole inserts and the indicators may be permanently attached to the athletic shoe by a selected process such as ultrasonic welding.

Unlike the subject invention, Henson describes the shoe invention with only the sole inserts capable of being interchangeable, and they are permanently attached. The subject invention provides for the assortment of interchangeable decorative straps and strips that are not permanently attached.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,646,497 entitled “Shoe With Interchangeable Heels” to Bobby G. Gillikin et al (Hereinafter “Gillikin”) discloses an invention relating to a shoe construction having angle irons mounted to the heel seat of the shoe for slidably mounting interchangeable low and high heels. Another purpose of the invention is to provide means for retaining the shape of a shoe having interchangeable heels. The present construction includes stiffener strips inserted in the oppositely disposed lateral arch portions of the shoe as well as an elastic band attached to the collar of the shoe. This combination of means provides intimate fitting between the shoe upper and a wearer's foot when the shoe is changed from a flat low-heel position to a flexed high heel position. Also, an arch supporting plate is mounted to the shoe shank for rendering vertical support to the shank thereby preventing the shank from sagging when the high heel is used. In order to allow heel interchangeability, angle irons are suitably fastened to the heel seat of the shoe body, each of the angle irons being shaped to include a tapered or wedged flange portion. Mating grooves are formed in the heel so that sliding engagement between the heel and the angle irons can be effected. When the heel fully engages the angle irons, a wedging action is achieved thereby connecting the heel securely to the shoe. This wedging action is not lost after prolonged use and many changeovers, as is prevalent with prior art construction.

Unlike the subject invention, Gillikin discloses a shoe that has an interchangeable heel. Particularly, the Gillikin invention describes only the heels as being interchangeable. The subject invention is not directed to an interchangeable sole.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates in general to interchangeable decorative straps and strips in combination with a footwear. The decorative straps and strips are secured to the exterior surface of the footwear by a loop and hook [VELCRO] fastener. This allows a user to wear a single pair of footwear with a variety of outfits by changing the overall physical appearance of the footwear with an assortment of interchangeable decorative straps and strips.

The assortment of interchangeable decorative straps or strips consists of various trimming-type decorations, and is preferably selected from the group consisting of beads, bows, flowers, fringe, zippers and colored fabrics or ribbons. Each of the assorted straps or strips is designed to coordinate with, i.e., to be aesthetically pleasing with, a variety of outfits so that the footwear may be used in conjunction with a number of different outfits.

Fastening means are provided for securing at least one of the straps or strips to the exterior surface of the footwear. The first fastening means consists of the hook portion of VELCRO material affixed to the exterior surface of the footwear, and the loop portion of VELCRO material affixed to the backside of the interchangeable decorative straps or strips.

Another feature of the present invention is that it is lighter than some existing footwear.

Still yet another feature of the present invention is that the interchangeable components have a removable fastening system enabling a person to custom design their own footwear according to their individual needs.

Another feature of the present invention is that it has interchangeable and replaceable parts, thus, reducing the overall cost of having numerous footwear for different aesthetic needs. The upper portions of the footwear can be interchanged to vary color.

Yet another feature of the present invention is that the footwear may have various styles, standards, and components.

Another feature of the present invention is that composite materials may be utilized individually and in combination during integration and manufacturing of the individual components.

Yet another feature of the present invention is that footwear components can be interchanged in minutes which requires less space in luggage while traveling, because wearer need not carry an individual footwear for each and every desired style.

Still another feature of the present invention is that the footwear is good for all ages and not limited to specific age group.

Another feature of the present invention is to allow the consumers to own a variety of footwear without the financial burden of purchasing a large number of pairs of shoes, boots, and sandals.

Yet another feature of the present invention is the easy attaching capability which is superior to other footwear.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing will become more readily apparent by referring to the following detailed description and the figure drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a thong and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps at the complete attached stage.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a thong and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps at the beginning stage of being detached.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a thong and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps at the ending stage of being detached.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a thong and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps in a separate state.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a slide and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps at the complete attached stage.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a slide and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps in the process of being detached.

FIG. 7 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a boot and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative strips at the complete attached stage.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a boot and one of the assorted interchangeable decorative strips in the process of being detached.

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps designed for, one of the preferred embodiment of the invention, the thong.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of one of the assorted interchangeable decorative strips designed for, one of the preferred embodiment of the invention, the boot.

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of one of the assorted interchangeable decorative straps designed for, one of the preferred embodiment of the invention, the slide.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the preferred and alternate embodiments shown, the footwear is preferably in the form of a slip-on sandal which includes a sole element 10 (FIGS. 1-8), a heel 11 (FIGS. 1-8) and an upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8).

The upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) is permanently attached on opposite sides of the footwear sole and is configured to extend across the top of wearer's foot when the footwear is worn.

The upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) is attached on the opposite sides of the footwear sole 10 (FIGS. 1-8) and is configured to extend laterally across the top surface of the wearer's foot when the footwear is worn. A plurality of topmost cover elements 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) are provided for releasable attachment to the upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) on the footwear 12 (FIG. 1).

The topmost cover elements 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) are specifically sized and configured to cover the complete top surface of the upper element so that, when attached thereto, the topmost cover element appears to be integral part of the footwear. It is contemplated that the topmost cover elements 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) may be made of any compatible material including, but not limited to, canvas, silk, polyester, woven textiles such as cotton, vinyl and other synthetic materials, and leather. A plurality of topmost cover elements 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) are provided in various shapes, textures, materials, and colors. Furthermore, an ornamental design of the exposed top side 25 (FIGS. 9-11) of the topmost cover element 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) could consists of stitching, printing, rhinestones, embroidery, beads or other decorative elements.

Each of the topmost cover element 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) comprises a rear edge 31 (FIG. 11), forward edge 32 (FIG. 11), opposite side edges 33 (FIG. 11), 34 (FIG. 11), top side 35 (FIG. 11), and underside 36 (FIGS. 10-11). Now referring to FIGS. 9-11, the top side of the topmost cover element, and any distinctive elements 37 thereon, is visibly displaying a particular aesthetic appearance for the footwear.

Each of the topmost cover element 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) is configured and disposed for releasable attachment to the upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) on the footwear to cover the exposed surface of the upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8). In a preferred embodiment, hook and loop fasteners are employed for the purpose of removable attachment of the topmost cover element 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11) to the upper element 40 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8). Furthermore, the loop component 41 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 9, and FIG. 11) and hook component 43 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) of the hook and loop fastening system is applied to the underside 42 (FIGS. 2-3, FIGS. 8-9, and FIG. 11) of the topmost cover element 30 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 6, and FIGS. 8-11). Preferably, the loop component 41 (FIGS. 2-3, FIG. 9, and FIG. 11) comprises of any suitable material which readily attaches to the hook component 43 (FIGS. 2-4, FIG. 6, and FIG. 8) in a hook and loop fastening system.

Another concept of the present invention is directed to provision of a footwear sole slits disposed on the sides thereof for receiving a permanently affixed upper element, with the upper element having a removable fastener disposed on the top surface of said upper element.

The embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 11, are merely representative of preferred configuration for a footwear according to the present invention. Other alternative versions also fall within the scope of the present invention. Different footwear designs which fall within the scope of the present invention will differ in certain details of their construction, but will include the common elements discussed. Hereinbelow, specific embodiments of the present invention will be discussed in extensive detail. However, some or all of these details may apply only to the illustrated embodiments and be less applicable to other variations that fall within the scope of the present invention. It should be noted that throughout this application, footwear soles, straps, and strips have been illustrated only for one shoe out of a pair.

As will be clear to those of skill in the footwear art, footwear articles are provided in pairs, including a right footwear and left footwear, which are essentially mirror images of one another. By illustrating only a right or a left footwear, sole, or upper element, the present invention enables the construction and use of a right or a left footwear.

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a variety of styles of footwear soles may be provided, along with upper elements having a variety of appearances. The various footwear sole designs may receive different upper element designs so as to alter their appearance or fit. Likewise, some upper element designs may be used with more than one footwear sole design. This interchangeability of upper elements allows great flexibility in the use of the present invention.

When a wearer adapt the present invention in use, the upper element exerts tremendous axial force on the footwear sole. In a preferred embodiment, a reinforcement 22 (FIGS. 1-6) is provided in the footwear sole so as to reinforce the slit 21 (FIGS. 1-6), especially at its frontal and back edges and along its upper side thereof. In some embodiments, the reinforcement 22 (FIGS. 1-6) is provided by a reinforcing woven material insert in the footwear sole. In one preferred embodiment, the reinforcement materials are Kevlar and carbon fiber. The material may be single or multiple density.

Preferably, the topmost cover element has a distinctive aesthetic design that is visible once the footwear is assembled. The design which may be provided on the outside surface 35 (FIG. 11) are widely varied. Many different materials may be used to form an upper element, as long as the material has sufficient strength to reliably retain the footwear on a wearer's foot. A variety of materials which may be used to form the upper elements include rubber, thermoplastic, fabrics, vinyls, or leather, and others. Examples of finishes include a variety of fabric finishes, a wide variety of colors, various surface finishes, such as sequins and coatings, and finishes that stimulate other materials, such as wood. Closure members other than hook and loop type fastener material may be used to removably attach the topmost cover element to the upper element. For example, other means of removable attachment such as, but not limited to, laces, hooks, snaps, zippers, friction, releasable adhesives, clips or slotted mechanism.