Think of Pilotis as high-performance tires for feet
I have written in this space more than once about how you should think of tires as shoes for your car, and about how you wouldn’t wear flip-flops in a snowstorm or winter boots to a beach party.
But today I’m not writing about shoes for your car, but shoes designed specifically for driving your vehicle, whether around town, on a long trip, to an important business meeting or a fancy dinner party, or even on a race track.
The shoes for driving are produced by Piloti, a company co-founded in 1999 by a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. After working for major athletic shoe companies and designing shoes for professional and Olympic-level athletes, the car-guy designer decided to create specialty driving shoes and launched Piloti with a business partner.
Piloti is the Italian word for “drivers.” Piloti shoes were designed to provide not only the sole and side grip needed for manipulating gas, brake and clutch pedals in the heat of competition, but to be both comfortable and supportive during long stints behind the steering wheel. Pilotis became very popular with professional auto racers and with people who owned sports cars.
That initial business unit lasted until 2012. Later, the Piloti brand was acquired by Canadian Tire, a company that dates to 1922 when brothers John W. and Alfred J. Billes bought a garage and tire dealership in Toronto. Canadian Tire not only sells tires and other automotive products, but owns a group of Canadian sports equipment retail outlets and a chain of work- and active-wear clothing outlets.
Canadian Tire relaunched Piloti in 2014.
“Over the past two years, while the brand was in transition, we noticed an unwavering demand for Piloti driving shoes from both professional drivers and general car buffs,” Piloti president Andrew Davies said at the time of the relaunch. “As new owners we are pleased to bring Piloti back to market with exactly what North American car culture has been asking for: The only technologically advanced driving shoe that is also stylish and comfortable enough for the street.”
Piloti holds a patent on its biomechanical design, which includes a Roll Control Heel design to reduce pressure on the foot’s pivot point while driving. The shoes also feature “inside-toe sidewall” cushioning and reinforced lateral sides designed to make the shoes durable. Pirelli’s Performance line of shoes for auto racing include fire-resistant DuPot Nomex lining and thread.
“We have designed every pair of Piloti driving shoes for people who love to drive,” Davies added. “Perfect pedal feel and enhanced control are what the professional drivers who wear Piloti dream about. Yet unlike traditional racing shoes, Piloti driving shoes are also comfortable and stylish enough to wear at the cafe.”
Along those lines, Piloti not only has updated and relaunched some of the original Piloti shoe lines, but at the recent Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, Piloti’s managing director Michelle Massicotte showed an expanding product line, applying its driving-shoe architecture to a moccasin-style casual-line of shoes, and even to a luxury line of premium-leather footwear and accessories that are made in Italy.
“We’re trying to expand beyond our roots,” she said, adding, however, that those shoes continue to be rooted in the company’s racing heritage.
Also on display were Piloti shoes specially designed and labeled for drivers of Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros.
Performance and casual shoes range from $130 to $240 per pair, the luxury line has a retail price of $350 to $500. Visit www.piloti.com for more information.
Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.