Calzuro: The World’s First Plastic Shoe
Posted on April 15 2021
The Man Behind the Plastic and the Clog: Gianfranco Bidoia
Calzuros are usually spotted where they were initially conceived: in the hospital. In 1967, the creator of Calzuro clogs, Giranfranco Bidoia, was working for his father’s medical supply business, which meant making rounds in intensive care units and operating theatres every day. It’s in these healthcare environments where he realized that wooden medical clogs weren’t cutting it. For one thing, they couldn’t be washed or sterilized. A temporary solution came in the form of medical galoshes (rubber boots that could be slipped over the clogs), which were not only difficult to walk in but had quickly earned a reputation as “sweat tanks” thanks to their lack of ventilation. Moreover, they caused so much static discharge that they interfered with electrical medical devices.
Medical staff pleaded with Bidoia to find a better alternative, but there was nothing on the market at the time. It was not until the late 70s that the polyurethane industry was innovating the properties and uses of the material. The once toxic and irritating plastic evolved into a lightweight, anti-static, thermal- and mechanical-resistant component used in ski boot production.
Bidoia saw potential in the material and began adapting its uses for the medical sector. When confronted with the medical footwear problem again, he decided to take the uses of polyurethane one step further. He met with plastic and ski boot manufacturers who agreed to help Bidoia develop a material that could address the needs of his healthcare clients. He was looking for something that would meet the following criteria: monocoque construction (the carbon is directly laminated into the frame and liner); thermal resistance up to 134°C (so they could withstand sterilization cycles in autoclaves); flexibility (so that doctors and nurses could move around and climb stairs easily); antistatic; affordable; anti-slip; could resist wear and tear; could fit an anatomically shaped insole; could relieve pain and discomfort caused by long hours of standing with little to no movement (especially for surgeons). It took two years of scrupulous testing, studies, and prototypes until all parameters were met and a new compound was finally developed.
All in a Name: Founding BIHOS & Calzuro
To usher in this innovation and new chapter in his professional life, Bidoia founded BIHOS. The name reflected the company’s familial ties (BIdoia), and maintained its commitment to hospital personnel (HOSpital). Now all Bidoia had to do was find a name for the clog he had pioneered. He devised “Calzuro,” based on the nature of his product, which prioritized the fundamental characteristics of comfort, practicality, and fit. He settled on Calzuro after shortening a combination of the Italian words for “sock” and “footwear” — “Calzaturo”. The company logo, he decided, would spotlight the shape of the foot: the name would be spelled along the length of the foot, starting with the “C” at the heel and ending with the “O” at the toe.
The product was patented on February 29, 1984, and soon this “sterilizable, plastic footwear” was the preferred work shoe among hospital staff and paramedics. Calzuros have helped frontline workers in all walks of life: delivering babies, performing life-saving surgery, taking breaks, or comforting patients.
Today, Calzuro is the leading supplier and manufacturer of certified safety shoes, hospital clogs, and technical footwear. They proudly carry the 100% Made in Italy certificate, meaning they are committed to providing high-quality, professional, state-of-the-art products at accessible price points. They are also invested in the next generation of manufacturers and inventors: BIHOS trains the employees on updated machinery and software technology, further enabling them to hone their skills.
A Step in the Right Direction
Calzuro is currently gaining traction outside of the healthcare sector. The comfortable and stylish clogs have acupressure footbeds that are ideal for anyone who stands most of the day, including cheese-makers in Brooklyn, hairdressers, retail and factory workers, to name a few. They come in different colours, styles, and degrees of ventilation to suit your professional needs. The customizable straps — a staple for any Calzuro-head — allow you to distinguish your pair from your co-workers’ or to mix and match colours for a more personal touch. At home, they’re great for cooking, doing chores and gardening, but stylish enough to wear outside of the house for errands, coffee with friends or a day at the office. When it comes time to replace your Calzuros, know that they are not only eco-friendly, but that you can recycle your old pair without releasing harmful toxins into the environment.