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Footwear designer launches the world’s FIRST running ‘slipper’ engineered for women’s feet - running ‘slipper’

The world’s first lace-free performance slippers engineered specifically for women’s feet are now available to pre-order. Footwear designer Martin Dean, 46, spent five years perfecting the QLVR (pronounced Clever) athletic slip-ons, which use a ‘fast-fit’ bird’s wing-inspired system to ‘hug’ the foot.

Martin, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, got the idea for the shoes’ 360-degree locked-in fit - offering better support and more natural movement than laces - after studying the movement of a dog ball thrower.

world’s FIRST running ‘slipper’

The eco-friendly QLVR Running Slippers - a versatile training shoe that’s ideal for 5km runs and cross training - are made using dandelion rubber-based foam. And the shoes promise to shave at least 30 seconds off a runner’s time getting ready, thanks to their slip-on style, which also removes the hassle of having to stop a workout when a lace comes undone.

After testing, the £140 QLVR slippers, which take just one second per foot to put on, are now available to pre-order for just $1 deposit [PLEASE LINK:], which secures a 43% discount when the brand’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign goes live on 23 July (so priced at £79 ($99) on day one - before shipping).

Martin said: “We’ve been lacing our shoes since the Stone Age. The world’s oldest shoes are from 3500BC, and they have a lace. It’s time to evolve! 

“We are forever looking at ways to streamline our lives, with gadgets invented for our convenience, instant communications, entertainment, computerised cars, making a phone call through our watch! Why has lacing up performance shoes not been challenged? I wanted to challenge the status quo.

“The majority of all athletic footwear is made to fit a man’s foot shape, then downscaled to women’s sizes on that same tooling to save on production costs. The use of the lace allows this to work to a degree because the laces can take up the slack.

“But women’s feet are anatomically shaped differently to men’s; they are narrower at the heel, have a higher instep and a wider toe box, so the majority of women’s training shoes are just small men’s shoes. 

“They do not fit correctly and this can cause too much sliding forward of the foot, rubbing, blisters, instability and ultimately injuries. I’ve always questioned this, and it’s just not being prioritised in other brands, so we’re using our new technology to make better-fitting trainers, starting with women first.”

Martin, who has spent 30 years designing footwear for global brands, began working on the idea of hands-free performance shoes in 2017. 

“I think I’ve been obsessed with hands free trainers since seeing the boots in the film Back To The Future as a kid,” Martin said. He was baffled by the fact that despite the amount of innovation in sports footwear in the past 50 years, designers were still relying on a piece of string to fasten them. 

Martin worked on a number of prototypes. But it wasn’t until 2020 that he had a breakthrough. In August 2020, while on a beach in Kent, Martin watched as a friend launched a ball for his dog using a thrower and, inspired by its expanding and contracting motion, got the initial idea for the now patented QLVR wing.

Martin, who has two daughters - Chloe, 18, and Yasmin, 14 - with wife Nicolle, said: “I was looking at the way the pre-moulded cup at the end of the stick mirrors the ball form and it’s in a closed position, to expand and contract to hold the ball in place, but with enough elasticity to hold the ball firmly until launch. I thought we could turn that upside down as a closure system for a shoe. That was the inspiration and then came the eureka moment.

“I was doing design research online and was looking at animal bone structure and the way a bird’s wing can expand and contract. Applying the zig-zag formation to the cup idea meant we had something with the ability to move and support the foot in place of the regular army of components that are required to construct a traditional lace up performance shoe.

“I built a basic prototype sample in a much simpler design to see if the zig zag collar would work. I wore and tested this model for a year and went through different variations and realised it would. Throughout that time around 2021 we showed it to various friends who experienced it and tried it on, and they kept having the same reaction: ‘that’s clever!’. So it started off as the Clever project, and became QLVR.”

After extensive testing, Martin is now launching QLVR trainers for pre-sale [PLEASE LINK] before his campaign on fundraising platform Kickstarter goes live on 23 July with the aim of raising enough funds to cover manufacturing tooling and the first production and eventually getting the QLVR shoes in stores.

During the Kickstarter campaign, the first customers will have a chance to get their name printed on the inside of the QLVR shoebox, be able to purchase a limited edition QLVR colour, and be able to enjoy bonus merchandise items. 

Martin said: “With QLVR Running Slippers, we have solved a problem everyone faces with their footwear - it puts an end to backs of shoes being squished down, to having to bend down to put on your trainers, and having to stop to keep tying your laces. This is the evolution of the athletic shoe!

“Kickstarter is a fantastic platform that really allows new ideas to come to life. It’s going to be very exciting to see it launch on July 23 - although we are already taking orders for presale and the response has been extremely positive.

“Our aim is to grow the brand by selling directly to customers globally - and then eventually through select retail. We’re really excited to see where this may lead - and to see customers experience for themselves the benefits of QLVR slippers!”

To pre-order a pair of QLVR Running Slippers and secure a 43 per cent discount when the Kickstarter fundraising appeal launches on 23 July, visit, check out QLVR on Facebook or Instagram