Zellerfeld HERON01 Wear-Test: First Impressions

Zellerfeld HERON01

Zellerfeld are one of the most interesting footwear brands out there right now. With ambitions of ‘trying to bring 3D printed shoes on every foot in the world’ (according to founder Cornelius Schmitt), the premise is certainly as intriguing as the designs themselves. While production remains low and designs are still in beta, I’m among the growing throng of testers wearing Zellerfeld’s first ‘production’ model, the HERON01, which was created in collaboration with Heron Preston. Here are my first impressions ahead of a brief wear-test this month.

Ordering Process

Zellerfeld recently launched their open beta, making it easy to order 18 different designs directly from their website. Before that, it was a closed beta with a smaller pool of testers selected by a lottery system. I signed up via their app in October 2022 while researching the brand for Material Matters. There wasn’t much to ascertain following the registration process, but that changed in mid November when I received the notification that I’d been selected to be a beta tester.

Closed beta orders are made through the app, which now offers four designs instead of the two offered to me at the time. I chose the HERON01 for its wild texture and figured it’d be a benchmark as it was the first ‘fully 3D-printed shoe available to the public’. In July 2022, Zellerfeld had also ‘updated’ the HERON01 to v0.81, which purportedly improved important parameters including fit and comfort.

The next step was scanning my feet, which was done from the convenience of my smartphone’s front camera. By hovering left and right feet over an outline in the app for just a few seconds, Zellerfeld now had an idea of how my feet looked.

,Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01


It took about six weeks from placing my order to the shoes arriving at my door. Pairs are currently being printed out of Zellerfeld’s facility in Hamburg, where they manufacture for other brands in the 3D-printed footwear space. According to the brand, it currently takes about 40 hours to print a single pair of shoes, so it explains the current wait times.

Global shipping was free, which was nice considering I paid $350 for the HERON01. Of course, as the company is still scaling up and developing reportedly proprietary technology, costs are passed to the consumer. Some of the designs in the open beta are $100 cheaper, so the shoes are bound to become cheaper as 3D-printing becomes ubiquitous.

The shoes arrived in a big orange and black box per Heron Preston’s brand identity, and included a handwritten note plus Zellerfeld-branded socks.

Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01
Zellerfeld HERON01

Fit at First Sight

The HP01 is unlike any other shoe I’ve seen before. Don’t get it twisted, these are definitely custom printed shoes, not injection-moulded clogs like many ‘futuristic’ designs out there. The printed TPU material is very fine and detailed, allowing the intricate upper and sole to be varied while technically being a one-piece shoe.

I don’t know how Zellerfeld did it off a single scan of my feet, but they got the fit about 99 per cent correct! Upon putting them on, the width and length was spot on. The only tiny niggle was the tiniest bit of lift inside the heel, likely from a touch too much volume on the inner side of the heel counter. Again, how would the brand have been able to ascertain that third dimension from a seeming 2D scan?

Aforementioned was the included pair of Zellerfeld-branded socks – yes, the shoes are compatible with other brands, but most importantly is wearing socks with the HERON01 and other designs. This is because the TPU, while soft and flexible, still has a ‘tackiness’ to it that could potentially abrade and cause blisters on bare feet for some skin types. Wearing socks also takes up some of that extra space in the heel.

All said, I have the option of sending the HERON01 back to Zellerfeld with fit data for them to break down the shoes and reprint them for my feet. I’ll start wearing them first before deciding whether I need to do that.

Stay tuned for more impressions of the Zellerfeld HERON01.

Photos by Jason Paparoulas.

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