Patent application title: Automatic girth adjustable shoes
Henri E. Rosen (Watertown, MA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43B326FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes with adjustment of shoe size
Publication date: 2012-12-06
Patent application number: 20120304496
Shoe constructions which automatically adjust the effective girth of a
shoe to enable the shoe to change in girth throughout a day in accordance
with changes in a wearer's foot, including along the upper and lower side
edges of the ball, waist, and instep of the wearer.
1. An automatically girthwise adjustable shoe having an upper, a lining,
and bottom elements, a foot support surface, and an elastic means
connected on each side of the shoe upper and providing automatic
adjustment of the effective girth of the shoe to allow a comfortably
contacting fit to the foot of the wearer throughout a day.
2. The shoe of claim 1 wherein the elastic means is connected to fabric interlining panels.
3. The shoe construction of claim 1, wherein the interlining panels cause contact of the shoe lining to the lower sides of the foot of a wearer.
4. The shoe construction of claim 1, wherein the foot is transversely centered in the shoe at all girth adjustments thereof.
5. The shoe construction of claim 1, wherein the girth ratio at the ball, waist and instep portions of the shoe automatically adjust to those of the foot of the wearer.
6. The shoe construction of claim 1, wherein the elastic means is located along the shoe centerline from the heel of the shoe to about the instep.
7. The shoe construction of claim 6, wherein the elastic means is connected to a saddle panel at the waist and instep on each side of the shoe.
8. The shoe construction of claim 1, wherein the elastic means is located along the shoe centerline.
9. The shoe construction of claim 8, wherein the elastic means is located from the heel of the shoe to about the instep.
10. The shoe construction of claim 8, wherein the elastic means is located from the toe of the shoe to about the instep.
11. A shoe construction having a midportional transverse elastic fabric element which extends within a shoe from (i) about a topline at the waist area of a first side of the shoe, (ii) under a foot support surface having a width equal to or less than the narrowest foot for which the shoe is intended, and (iii) ending at about a topline at the waist area on a second side of the shoe, which elastic fabric element automatically adjusts the effective girth of a shoe to provide continuous automatic adjustment of the effective girth of the shoe along the lower side edges of a foot to comfortably fit the foot of a wearer throughout a day.
12. The shoe construction of claim 11, wherein the midportional transverse elastic fabric element is further attached to the shoe along the length of the center of the shoe.
13. The shoe construction of claim 11, wherein the midportional transverse elastic fabric element is comprised of 2 or more narrower fabric elements which are not lengthwise connected to each other.
14. The show construction of claim 11, wherein the midportional transverse elastic fabric element is extendable by at least 2 inches.
15. A shoe construction having an upper, a stretch lining, interlining bottom elements, and an elastic fabric element attached to the upper of the shoe which provides automatic adjustment of the effective girth of the shoe to allow the shoe lining to provide a comfortably contacting fit of the shoe to the upper and lower side edges of the foot of the wearer.
16. The shoe construction of claim 15, wherein the foot is held relatively transversely centered in the shoe at all girth adjustments thereof.
17. The shoe construction of claim 15, wherein the effective girth ratio of the ball, waist, and instep portion of the shoe automatically adjust to those of the foot of the wearer.
18. The shoe construction of claim 15, wherein the effective girth adjustments of the shoe is limited in the extent thereof.
19. The shoe construction of claim 15, wherein the elastic means provide about 1 to 4 pounds of tension to each side of the midportion of the shoe.
20. The shoe construction of claim 15 wherein the elastic means extend longitudinally along the loose insole of the shoe.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 This invention comprises a shoe construction providing improved means for the automatic adjustment of the effective girthwise dimensions of a shoe to properly fit a foot therein, including along the upper and lower sides of the midportional ball, waist and instep of a wearer's foot throughout the day.
 It is well-known that to fit properly, a shoe need to not only be of suitable length but also of the particular effective girthwise dimension essential to providing a comfortably close girthwise fit to the foot of the wearer. To date, the best approaches to achieving such proper fit have been by having one's shoes made to order by custom shoemakers, or usually somewhat less expensively by factory-made shoes, particularly those available in a relatively wide range of successive widths, (i.e. girths) for each length size.
 Neither of these approaches has provided full and accurate girth adjustment throughout the shoe and particularly in the fit-critical lower midportional sides thereof for the normal temporary diurnal increases in foot girth due to increases in body fluids in the extremities typically amounting to one or more girth increments over the course of each day. Girth increments range from about 3/16'' to 1/4'' depending on the size range of the shoe and the preference of the shoe manufacturer.
 In the latter 20th century, girthwise fitting problems increased appreciably with the now general practice of offering most so-called volume popularly priced footwear in only a single relatively medium width (i.e. girth) for each length size, mainly to minimize retail store inventories for the seemingly ever-increasing range of shoe styles being offered by the suppliers. While negatively affecting the fit of most styles including those of the popular laced shoe constructions, these factors have had particularly adverse effects on conventional casual shoes such as loafers and similar slip-on categories lacking conventional manual girth adjustment means. The typical medium width (girth) limitation of such shoes results in their providing proper fit to few if any wearers throughout a typical day.
 The present invention overcomes these problems, providing shoes that will fit each foot properly throughout the day. Moreover, the present construction keeps the foot transversely centered in the shoe at all girth adjustments, a factor that should be most welcome in athletic and other active wearing use applications.
 Additionally, while the disclosure below refers to a handsewn loafer shoe design, this invention is readily applicable to other shoe designs and categories including those with manually adjustable shoe laces, straps, buckles and similar means affording additional girth or girthwise tensional adjustment in combination with the girth adjustment system of this invention.
 As for relevant prior art, none has been able to satisfy the foregoing criteria sufficiently to merit its volume production to date. Such prior art includes the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,691,271; 3,404,468; 3,442,031; 3,541,078; 3,618,235; 3,686,777; 4,279,083; 4,858,341; 4,967,492; 4,969,277; 5,060,402; 5,123,181; 5,153,257; 5,203,096, 5,241,762; 5,325,514; 5,384,970; 6,725,575 and 6,883,254.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 This invention comprises shoe constructions which provide improved means for automatically adjusting the effective girth of a shoe by an elastic means which extends longitudinally along at least a portion of the shoe so that the shoe provides a comfortably contacting fit of the shoe to a wearer's foot therein while keeping the foot substantially transversely centered in the shoe at all girth adjustments thereof. The shoe constructions include a foot support surface having a width equal to or less than the narrowest foot for which the shoe is intended.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a side elevational cross-sectional drawing of a first shoe 20 taken along its longitudinal centerline and embodying principles of the present invention.
 FIGS. 2 and 3 show plan views of elements of the shoe 20 of FIG. 1 taken along the lines 2-2 and 3-3 thereof with FIG. 2 showing these elements as they would appear with the shoe 20 girth adjusted to fit a foot of lesser girth while FIG. 3 shows these elements adjusted to fit a foot of greater girth.
 FIG. 4 is a side elevational cross-sectional drawing of a second shoe 120 taken along its longitudinal centerline and embodying principles of the present invention.
 FIGS. 5 and 6 show plan views of the shoe 120 of FIG. 4 taken along the lines 5-5 and 6-6 thereof, with FIG. 5 showing these elements as they would appear with the shoe 120 adjusted to fit a foot of lesser girth, while FIG. 6 shows the same elements when adjusted to fit a foot of greater girth.
 FIG. 7 is side elevational cross-sectional drawing of a third shoe 220 taken along its longitudinal centerline and embodying principles of the present invention.
 FIGS. 8 and 9 show plan views of the shoe 220 of FIG. 7 taken along the lines 8-8 and 9-9 thereof, with FIG. 8 showing these elements as they would appear with one version of the shoe 220 adjusted to a lesser girth while FIG. 9 shows these same elements adjusted for the same version of the shoe 220 to a greater girth.
 The following definitions will be used in reference to terms and phrases in this disclosure:
 "Ball to instep girth ratio"--The ratio of the girth of a foot at its ball relative to that at its instep.
 "Bottom element"--Shoe element predominantly under a foot therein.
 "Centerline"--The longitudinally central line of a shoe and bottom elements thereof.
 "Direct sole molding"--Shoe manufacturing process in which the sole element of a shoe is both molded and attached to a shoe upper assembly in the same molding operations.
 "Effective girth"--The transverse circumferential dimensions of the innermost elements of a shoe.
 "Elastic fabric"--A fabric having an elasticity of about 1 to 10, preferably about 2 to 6, pounds per inch of width, i.e. about the girthwise elasticity of a typical waistband of mens so-called "Jockey" underwear.
 "Elastic goring"--Elastic fabric tape, preferably elasticized by neoprene rubber based components.
 "Fit-critical"--Critical to the fit thereof.
 "Fixed insole"--Insole bottom element of a shoe fixedly attached to adjacent elements thereof.
 "Forepart spacer"--Optional shoe bottom element in the forepart of a shoe, preferably of fiberboard or equivalent material of a thickness matching that of the tuck element and midportional transverse goring of a shoe.
 "Interlining"--Lining element located between the upper and lining elements of a shoe.
 "Lining"--Inner element of a shoe, located adjacent to a foot therein.
 "Loose"--Less than continuous attachment of a shoe element to adjacent elements thereof.
 "Lower side portions"--Side portions approximately 1 to 3 cm, above the uppermost foot supporting element of the shoe.
 "Midportional"--Longitudinally relatively central location of a foot or shoe, including ball, waist and instep portions thereof.
 "Polypropylene"--Typically extruded polypropylene polymer.
 "Proper fit"--The accepted comfortably close fit of a shoe to a foot therein.
 "Rubberized"--A process by which latex based elements of a shoe become rubber by the application of vulcanizing heat thereto.
 "Shank"--Portion of a foot or a shoe between the instep and heel portions thereof.
 "Shoe"--General term for footwear of various categories.
 "Spandex fabric"--Fabric including elastic spandex fibers.
 "Tensionally adjustable"--Adjustable by the application of tension thereto.
 "Tuck"--Bottom element of a shoe, typically of fiberboard material, extending between the ball (or waist) and heel thereof.
 "Unitsole"--Unitary bottom-most element of a shoe.
 "Upper side portions"--Side portions of a foot or shoe located above the lower side portions.
 "Vulcanized shoe"--A shoe construction wherein latex based elements and adhesives of a shoe are secured to each other and rubberized by the application of (vulcanizing) heat thereto.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 FIGS. 1-3 show a first embodiment of the principles of the present invention. Shown is a popular so-called hand-sewn loafer design casual shoe 20.
 FIG. 1 shows the loafer styled shoe 20 which includes an upper assembly 22 having a vamp 24 attached to a plug 26 by a handsewn seam 28, and a counter 30, a cuff 32 and a saddle 34 attached to the vamp 24 by conventional trim-stitching 36 and by a handsewn seam 28, and to the topline of the vamp 22 by such as conventional topline stitching (not shown). FIG. 1 further shows two midportional flexibly inelastic girth adjustable fabric interlining panels 40 (one on each side of the shoe). The panels 40 are attached to the topline of the vamp 24 by topline stitching (not shown) and by the hand-sewn seam 28. The panels are located between the shoe outer vamp elements and a loose spandex vamp lining 48.
 FIG. 1 also shows lining and bottom elements of the shoe 20 of FIG. 1 including the loose spandex vamp lining 48 which extends as shown across a portion of the top surface of a fiberboard tuck 50 and the forepart of a flexibly inelastic fixed insole 52. The vamp lining 48 is attached to the peripheries of both the fiberboard tuck 50 and the fixed insole 52 by such as adhesive cement means. This allows the lining to be slightly elastic along the sides of the shoe but substantially inelastic under the foot. The fiberboard tuck 50 contains a midportional centerline eyelet 54 which is positioned forward of a preferably neoprene rubber based elastic fabric centerline goring 56 and over the fixed insole 52 which has a conventional shoe bottom assembly 58 thereunder. Preferred shoe bottom assemblies include vulcanized direct molded unitsoles as well as other soles and bottom assemblies.
 FIGS. 2 and 3 show plan views of the bottom elements and adjacent girth adjustment means of the shoe 20 of FIG. 1 when viewed upward from the fixed insole 56. FIG. 2 shows these elements as they would be when the shoe is adjusted to fit a lesser girth foot. FIG. 3 shows the same elements as in FIG. 2 as they would be when the shoe is adjusted to fit a foot of greater girth. Both figures show the elastic fabric goring 56 being attached to the heel portion of the tuck 50 by a heel edge-stitching means 62.
 In use, a preferably braided Dacron® sportfishing or similar line 66 is attached to a first panel 40, then the line extends through centerline eyelet 54, then passing through a goring eyelet 64 in the elastic fabric goring 56, then back through centerline eyelet 54, and then attached to the second panel 40. Each of the panels 40 preferably has a longitudinal, polypropylene (or other plastic) strut 70 attached as by butt-stitching 72 to the inelastically flexible fabric panels 40. The polypropylene struts 70 both reinforce the fabric panel at the point of connection to the line 66 as well as automatically angularly align to adjust for differences in the ball to waist girth ratio of a wearer's foot from those of the norm while keeping the foot transversely centered in the shoe 20 at all girth adjustments. The polypropylene strut is generally about 0.2'' to 0.3'' thick, preferably about 0.023'' to 0.028'' thick.
 At the least girth adjustment of the shoe 20 the goring 56 exerts at least about 1 pound of tension when no foot is in the shoe (or a foot of minimum girth). This minimum amount of tension helps the shoe have a comfortable fit on the foot and avoid heel-slip in the stride. The specific degree and range of the initial tension will depend on the expected end use of the shoe 20 and any preference of its supplier.
 The tension is exerted on the goring by means of a preferably braided Dacron® sportfishing or similar line 66 which extends forward from an eyelet means 64 in the goring to and through the centerline eyelet 52 in the tuck 50 and transversely therefrom to a knotted line end attachment 68 in the waist portion of each of the two inelastically flexible fabric interlining panels 40.
 FIGS. 4-6 show a second embodiment of a shoe of the present invention. These drawings show a popular so-called hand-sewn saddle loafer design of casual shoe 120 in an elevational cross-section taken along its longitudinal centerline.
 FIG. 4 shows a shoe 120 including an upper assembly 122 having a vamp 124 attached to a plug 126 by a handsewn seam 128 and a cuff 130, a saddle 132, and an inside counter (not shown) attached to the vamp 124 by a conventional trim-stitching 134 and by a conventional vamp topline stitching (not shown). FIG. 4 further shows a midportional transverse elastic fabric element 136 and optional preferably extruded polypropylene plastic girth adjustment limiting struts 138, both attached to the vamp 124 by said vamp topline stitching (not shown). The midportional transverse elastic fabric element 136 is about 1 to 2.5 inches wide. The midportional transverse elastic fabric element 136 is shown as a single element from one shoe top line to the other, but it can be in two or more strips each about 0.5 to 1.25 inches wide wherein the strips may or may not be physically connected to each other. The adjustment limiting struts 138 serve to prevent the top line of a side of the shoe from going below the designed minimum which is required for the shoe to fit the minimum girth foot for which it has been designed. The limiting struts 138 may be about 1/2 inch wide.
 FIG. 4 also shows a spandex loose fabric lining 140 attached to the topline of the vamp 124 by the topline stitching (not shown) and in the forepart of the shoe by the handsewn seam 128. The loose fabric lining 140 serves to provide a smooth inside foot contacting surface at all girths. If desired, the loose fabric lining 140 may be cemented to a preferably 1/8'' Poron® cellular polyurethane foam socklining 142 which may be similarly cemented to a preferably 0.025'' polypropylene insole 144 thereunder. The insole 144 may be similarly cemented to a tuck element (rearpart spacer) 146 and optionally a forepart spacer 148, both being preferably of fiberboard of similar thickness to the thickness of the elastic fabric 136 therebetween to allow automatic girth adjustment of the shoe 120 by the elastic fabric 136 over the designed girth adjustment range of the shoe 120. The tuck element 146 and the optional forepart spacer 48 may be cemented to a fixed insole 150 thereunder. The fixed insole 150 is typically a flexibly inelastic fabric attached as by butt-stitching (not shown) to the lower periphery of the vamp 124 and then cemented or otherwise attached to the sole element or bottom assembly 152 thereunder.
 FIGS. 5 and 6 show plan views of bottom elements and girth adjusting means of the shoe 120 of FIG. 4 as viewed upwards from its fixed insole 150. FIG. 5 shows these elements as they would appear with the shoe 120 adjusted to a lesser girth while FIG. 6 shows the adjustment to a greater girth. Both figures show the tuck 146 and forepart spacer 148 and the gore 136 therebetween.
 Referring to FIGS. 7-9, they show a third version of a popular so-called hand-sewn saddle loafer casual shoe style in an elevational cross-section taken along its longitudinal centerline in a construction embodying principles of the present invention.
 FIG. 7 shows a shoe 220 including an upper assembly 222 having a vamp 224 attached to a plug 226 by a handsewn seam 228, and a saddle 230 and a cuff 232, both attached to the vamp 224 and the plug 226 by trim-stitching 234 and by vamp topline stitching (not shown). FIG. 7 further shows a spandex loose lining 236 having its lower portion cemented to the top surface of a loose insole 238. The loose insole 238 preferably is of a width equal to that of a shoe last of the least girth of the girth adjustable range for which the shoe 220 is designed. FIG. 7 also shows two preferably flexibly inelastic about 0.025'' thick woven fabric panels 240 attached to the vamp 224 topline by stitching (not shown). The lower portions of the fabric panels 240 extend transversely under the loose insole 238 and above a flexible, substantially inelastic, woven fabric fixed insole 242. The flexible woven fabric fixed insole 242 is attached, as by butt-stitching, to the lower periphery of the vamp 224 over a vulcanized type bottom assembly or unitsole 244. FIG. 7 further shows a centerline eyelet 46 in the waist of loose insole 238 and an eyelet 248 in the centerline instep slot 250, eyeletted to a transverse polypropylene strut 252 (preferably about 0.025'' thick) which is butt-stitched to a suitably tensioned elastic centerline fabric tape 254 (as better seen in FIGS. 8 and 9) between the eyelets 246 and 248.
 FIGS. 8 and 9 show plan views of the elements of the shoe 220 of FIG. 7 as viewed upwards of its fixed insole 242. FIG. 8 shows these elements as they would appear with the shoe 220 adjusted to a lesser girth while FIG. 9 shows their adjustment to a greater girth. FIGS. 8 and 9 also show the preferably 0.025'' thick polypropylene longitudinal ball to instep struts 256 attached as by butt-stitching to the lower end portions of the fabric panels 240. The struts 256 are attached at their waists to a preferably braided Dacron® girth adjusting line 258 which extends transversely from the struts to the centerline slot 250 in loose insole 238 and attached thereby to the center of a preferably 0.025'' thick polypropylene transverse strut 52 butt-stitched to the centerline elastic fabric tape 54 which is attached as by heel-stitching 50 to the heel perimeter of insole 238, preferably under a minimum longitudinal tape tension of about 3 lbs. This arrangement allows a wearer's foot to be held relatively centered transversely within the shoe while allowing the fit-critical ball to instep girth ratio of the shoe to automatically adjust to that of the wearer at all girth adjustments thereof.
 It should also be noted that the constructions of this invention are applicable to shoe designs that in addition to the automatically girth-adjusting structures described herein further include a conventional manually girth adjustable means such as laces, straps, and the like. The manual means can be useful in providing additional incremental girth-wise or tensional adjustment along with the automatic girth adjustment elements of the present invention.
 Equivalents to the elements specified above for use in the present invention include a full length insole in place of or in addition to the tuck element; other elastic means such as springs or metal extension springs and the like in place of the centerline elastic fabric goring 56; multiple non-centerline elastic fabric gorings in place of a centerline elastic fabric goring 56; having the elastic fabric goring extend from the toe toward the shoe instep; and the like.
 As for materials and sources, leather may be from Prime Tanning, Inc., of Berwick, Me. Synthetic leather and similar sheet materials may be from Starensier, Inc., of Newburyport, Mass. Spandex, elastic fabric, flexibly inelastic fabrics, and goring may be from the Geo. C. Moore Co. Inc., of Westerly, R.I. Polypropylene extrusions may be from Bixby International, Inc., of Newburyport, Mass., or Spartech Plastic, Portage, Wis. Eyelets and washers may be supplied by Trendware/Goldberg Footwear Components, Inc., of Salem, Mass. Polyurethane cellular sheet materials such as Poron® may be from Rogers Corp., Rogers, Conn. Dacron fishing line may be from Woodstock Line Co., Putnam, Conn.
Patent applications by Henri E. Rosen, Watertown, MA US
Patent applications in class With adjustment of shoe size
Patent applications in all subclasses With adjustment of shoe size