What 3D Printing Means For Block Heels

Every field has its innovators, and every innovator offers a new technology or process that completely reshapes convention. At HILOS, we believe that 3D printing is the tech that will uproot the world of footwear for the better, with the potential to change the process of how we make women’s shoes altogether. 

3D printing offers a completely new look at the creation process for shoes, doing away with mass production and wasteful subtractive manufacturing processes. And with the amount of waste that conventional footwear manufacturers create and the low-quality, high-quantity manufacturing model that is standard for so many companies, it’s more important than ever that we integrate fashion with truly sustainable business practices. 

Fortunately, our gorgeous block heel styles offer an excellent synthesis of comfort, style, and sustainability, thanks to 3D printing and our team of designers, engineers and artists pioneering a new way forward with how we make.


It’s hard to tell where exactly in the public consciousness the women’s block heel trend is coming from – whether it emerges from fond nostalgia for the bold, sexy platforms and sweet chic clogs of the 1970s, or from the familiarity of the edgy twist on mary janes we saw in the late 1990s – but either way, it’s clear that block heels are very much ‘in.’ They adorn the pages of Vogue, the new arrivals tabs on the websites for Steve Madden, Sam Edelmen, Naturalizer, and Chinese Laundry, and are lauded by the fashionistas behind countless style blogs across the internet. That’s right — it’s the year of the block heel.

We’re with them. The mass applauding of the block heel feels quite justified. From the bold silhouette to the practical stability, they can work in nearly any context and add a touch of sophistication to any outfit. They’re dynamic and reliable, but with an unexpected edge of cool and easy timelessness.

And while, sure, it’s beyond cliched to make claims about day-to-night wearability in the world of women’s high heels, when it comes to many strains of the block heel design, it’s patently true. You probably wouldn’t blink an eye seeing a pair of block heel sandals in the cubicle next door, nor would you balk if the woman next to you at the bar was sporting peep toe black block heel mules. Feel bold and dramatic at the office, mature and put-together on a night out -- it's a win-win. 

Contrast all of this with a pair of stilettos, which don’t offer nearly the same level of comfort and versatility as a well-designed block heel. Dressing down a stiletto takes considerable effort and fashion know-how, while block heels can be conservative or dramatic depending on a simple outfit change.


HILOS aims to break the mold in the world of women’s footwear, and we encourage you to do so too. Our 3D-printed heels defy traditional conventions in women’s shoe-making on multiple levels. It’s not just that our shoes incorporate the scores of layers of material involved in traditional shoemaking into one convenient, flexible layer. It’s not just that our shoes are the products of hours of design by truly gifted artists and engineers. And it’s not just that our shoes are built with the environment in mind. There’s so much more. 

HILOS’ block heel mules are built to last and make an impact, even after they’re gone. What does that mean? Our unique manufacturing process designs shoes for disassembly, which allows for us to seamlessly recycle materials from shoes at the end of their lifespans, and we offer a 15% discount on the next purchase of a pair of HILOS shoes to incentivize consumers to join us in the fight for sustainability. This Circularity Program, combined with our other eco-conscious manufacturing protocols, allows us to significantly reduce our environmental footprint. 

Not only are our designs sustainable, but they’re beautiful, too. With an architectural heel that blends design of the 21st century with timeless shapes, unique woodgrain patterns applied onto your heel to seamlessly mimic classic wooden clogs, and buttery soft leather in a variety of colorways, our line of block heel mules will elevate. The quality of our craftsmanship and materials show in the way your heels will stun, no matter the time or occasion.

Not only that, but we make use of the latest materials available to create comfortable shoes. Our designers know better than anyone that women’s shoes — especially women’shigh heels — are not built with comfort in mind, so we set out to change that. Our shoes combine the traditional outsole, midsole, and insole into one flexible 3D printed platform made from the same material as your favorite running shoe. A springy, digital mesh cushion acts as the insole, supporting your feet all day with a comfort that feels like nothing else out there. Combine that with a flexible-yet-durable heel, and you have a pair of shoes that look like mules and feel like sneakers.


When it comes to the future of footwear, we know that aesthetic appeal isn’t enough for you. In a world with extraordinary amounts of needless waste coming from the garment and footwear industries, consumers are becoming tired of unsustainable practices that create low-quality products that are functionally designed to be thrown away.

Through the process of 3D printing, HILOS is forging a new way ahead in the world of footwear. Traditionally, footwear and garments are produced through a process called “subtractive manufacturing,” in which pieces or parts of a product are cut or carved from a larger piece of material. As you might expect, this results in significant amounts of material waste before the product even hits the shelves. By contrast, HILOS’ additive manufacturing process relies on layering material in a precise 3D pattern via 3D printer with no extra material to carve away or dispose of.

The speed, convenience, and minimal waste of additive manufacturing mean that we can produce beautiful made-to-wear block heel mules whenever you ask for them. We don’t anticipate demand by overproducing like traditional garment companies, which usually dispose of extra stock by sending perfectly usable and unpurchased shoes to landfills, and we cut down on the by-products of footwear manufacturing this way, too.


With a style as versatile as block heels, there’s a nigh-infinite number of ways to wear our designs. Incorporate them into your office wardrobe, break them out for a bridesmaid photoshoot, or just hit the town – there’s no wrong way to wear our high heel shoes. 

We offer two best seller styles of block heel mules: Georgia and Grace. Both styles share a basic body: a 3D printed platform mule with a square toe, a flared high heel measuring at 3 inches, and a beautiful leather front that comes in a variety of colors. The Grace style is an open toe mule with an open back, while the Georgia style has a slingback design which can be swapped out to transform it into a strappy block heel.


Maximalist, loud, unabashedly yours — it’s hard for people to look away from your outfits, either because you’re showing them something they’ve never seen before, or they’re wishing they had found your coat/skirt/pants/shirt/dress before you did. Style our electric green Georgia design with layers upon layers of texture, color, and vibrancy. In the summer and spring, this means layers of light and sheer fabrics in equally explosive color — bright pinks, deep reds, jewel-toned blues — with gold and silver jewelry stacked to the ceiling. In the winter and fall, this means mixing different fabric weights and textures, like suede, wool, and silk, to create an opulent silhouette.


We expect our shoes to be as dynamic as we are, and the Grace style in Crema is just that — dynamic. These high-quality leather heels come in a pale nude which, when paired with the cream-colored wood grain of the block heel design, creates a soft, romantic feel to any outfit while still blending in with whatever your environment is. With built-in comfort from our signature digital mesh cushion, these are perfect for any special occasion. From casual outdoor weddings where you’ll be expected to dance your hardest, to the bacchanalia of the bridal shower a few months before, they’ve got you. Upgrade to our Georgia style for our take on that strappy dress sandal look that is so chic right now.


It’s hard to deny that these heels are capable of packing 70s glamor, especially when considering the subtle retro sophistication of our Cognac and Black colorway. Square toe, check. Flared heel, check. A (3D printed) “wooden platform”, check. Beautiful leatherwork in rich brown and black, check. All that’s left is to pair them with a gorgeous jumpsuit made in Op Art prints, styled alongside long, bohemian jewelry, and gorgeous natural hair.


For a casual office look, dress up a pair of leather block heel pumps with black slacks, a crisp blouse, and a glossy patent handbag. Our Georgia style comes with dual options for straps — slingback and ankle strap tie-up — which further elevate a conservative silhouette. With a height of three inches and a sturdy base, you aren’t at risk of falling on your way to your next meeting. And while open-toe heels can certainly be an issue in some workspaces, the more conservative peep toe design and mid heel height will help you blend in with the loafer-wearers, oxford-bearers and dress-shoes-adopters of your office.


If you love subtle sophistication, you’ll love our Georgia shoe in Yin and Yang. Simple enough to not scream for your attention, but unexpected enough to delight, these mellow, balanced shoes pair well with elevated basics. Combine a well-fitted, crisp white t-shirt, a pair of comfortable slacks, some simple gold or silver jewelry, and these black-and-white beauties, and you’ll be ready for your day – whether that means running errands around town or going on a fun night out with your best pals.

If your shoes aren’t quite right for you, let us know! We want you to love your HILOS and offer a 30 day return policy. Returned shoes are repurposed for a second life so that nothing ever goes to waste.

Got a question about our shoes or the design process? Send us a note and someone on our team will get back to you right away.