Stateside, almost all board-certified pedorthists who measure feet employ the Brannock Device or the trusty Ritz Stick.
There are no such standard sizers in Europe. Tim Follett, president of the Brannock Device Company, is not sure why.
“My only guess is that there doesn’t seem to be a true ‘standard’ sizing that is widely accepted, so it makes it difficult to manufacture a device that will not be viewed by many users as providing the wrong size,” he suggested.
All about location
Brannock exports devices to Great Britain and to other countries. Some are the familiar American-scale models. Others are custom made and marked in Continental, Mondopoint or English scales.
“It still amazes me that the Brannock Device became the standard with the hundreds and hundreds of other foot measuring gizmos that were invented,” Follett said.
In Europe, some shoe companies have traditionally marketed their own measurers. For example, Bally, the Swiss footwear manufacturer, equipped its retail stores with the Multifit measurer for measuring the feet of infants and children.
Swedish shoe stores used the Skopassningapparatus. The measurer, used for children and adults, was manufactured in Stockholm.
eMany shoe fitters in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe use the simple Heider measurer, a yellow plastic device made in Germany.
Germany is also home to more sophisticated foot measurers, manually operated and electronic. The Brüder Winkle Company, headquartered in Altenstadt, makes manually operated measuring devices for fitting men, women and children’s shoes. Made of durable plastic, they come with Continental, English and Mondopoint scales.
Located in Pirmasens, the PFI Research Center has developed mechanical and computerized measurers that show sizes in Continental, English, Mondopoint and other scales.
The Continental scale is based on the Paris Point, a measurement equal to two-thirds of a centimeter or .26 inches. By comparison, a U.S. shoe size equals one-third of an inch. While U.S. men’s and women’s size scales are different, the Continental range is the same for men and women.
The Mondopoint system was an attempt to standardize world shoe sizes.
In 1991, the International Standards Organization adopted the Mondopoint system for shoe sizing and marking. The scale is based on the mean foot length and width for which a shoe is deemed suitable. Measurements are in millimeters. For example, a shoe size of 225/90 means a foot is 225 mm long and 90 mm wide.
While the Mondopoint system survives, it failed to supplant U.S., English and Continental sizing. The Mondopoint scale is most commonly used for ski boots.
Brannock makes a Mondopoint device for fitting ski boots in the United States and Europe. On the Brannock Mondopoint, 225 is shown as 22.5 and the width is in letters from AAA to EEE. Also, Startrite, an English children’s shoe company, has come out with a simple Mondopoint measurer made of plastic. It features a tape for measuring the girth of the foot.
Brüder Winkle says its devices are based on anthropomorphic studies conducted at the New University of Kiel and are in accordance with the German National Standards Institute, Deutsches Institut für Normung. The measurers solve “easily, quickly and exactly the task of combined lengths and widths measuring,” the company’s Web site explains. “Using a lateral and a vertical slide, our devices measure the foot while the person is standing and without cramping it, which could falsify the results. This experience-oriented method of measurement avoids prior measuring errors by different contact pressure and the precise size of the footwear can be easily read off the scales.”
The devices are basically a frame with moving parts that show heel-to-toe length and width. They can measure both feet, but not at the same time.
Brüder Winkle sizers don’t have plates on which feet are placed for measurement.
“The foot measuring devices without a ‘bottom’ allow a quick determination of length and width as standard gauge for the shoe size when fitting shoes,” according to the Web site. “This ‘bottomless’ foot measuring is especially suited for children, because our device is adjusted to the foot and not vice versa. This is the principle used for all Winkle foot measuring devices.”
All measurements are taken standing up with weight evenly distributed on both feet. The devices are marked “RECHTE FERSE” – right heel – and “LINKE FERSE” – left heel – to show the proper placement of the feet inside the frame.
Likewise, feet are measured in weight-bearing on PFI electronic and manually operated devices, which are also made of plastic. The electronic devices measure in a variety of sizing systems, including Continental, Mondopoint and English.
People being measured stand with both feet on the PFI sizers. The computerized ones measure the feet electronically and flash the size on display screens.
eOn the manual devices, bars are pressed against the toes and the outside of the feet to determine length and width. Typically, the mechanical devices have Continental and English size scales. The adult models go from 20 to 48 Continental and 3/12 to 13, English. Width is expressed in ranges of 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.
Unlike the Brannock, the Brüder Winkle, PFI and Heider sizers only measure heel-to-toe length. The Heider device does not measure width.
The Heider measurer is shaped like the sole of a right shoe. But it can be used to measure both feet.
Length is determined by pushing a small red tab against the longest toe. The Heider measurer is marked in Continental sizes from 18 to 47 and English sizes from 2 to12.
The Skopassningapparatus and the Multifit are scribed for measuring right and left feet, too. The Swedish device, which is made of heavy metal, measures from size 22 to 48, Continental, and E-K width. After measuring one foot with the device, the shoe fitter turned it over and measured the other one.
The length range on the Multifit is 17 to 44. Width scales range from A to EE. But slides on the metal device are als o marked for measuring heel-to-ball length.