As they grow up, children have specific needs. One that doesn’t get as much attention, however, is their feet. In fact, a growing number of babies are born with flat feet.
“Sixty percent of children in Hong Kong have flat feet,” said Raymond Ng, who founded Dr. Kong Footcare in 1999. The brand—which has opened 62 retail outlets in Hong Kong and 70 retail outlets in China—started out in footwear that targeted women with children aged four to 14.
“During this stage, children still have flexible flat feet. If left untreated, this may lead to muscle fatigue as well as knee and lower-back pains,” Ng said.
Once apprised of the situation, parents usually look for a pair of corrective shoes for their children. Dr. Kong does not market itself as corrective footwear, although its staff, called “footcare assistants,” can recommend a suitable pair of shoes and insoles depending on the child’s foot condition. The three types of insoles provide normal arch support, moderate arch support or high arch support.
Aside from flat feet, other foot conditions affecting children include intoeing, where both feet point inward when walking; knock knees, where the knees overlap if the child is instructed to stand up straight; and Hallux valgus, or the inward deviation of the big toe.
Local distributor Michael Sy, president of WRI Wellness Retail Innovation Inc., said that he and his partners were initially interested in bringing in the brand because he noticed how his young son seemed to have a foot condition.
“Para siyang lampa. He was always stumbling when he was around five years old. When he began wearing a pair of Dr. Kong’s shoes, nakatulong naman (it seemed to help),” he said.
Sy is the first to admit that the shoes sold at Dr. Kong’s are not fashion-forward, although aside from capturing its target market of parents with young children—Dr. Kong shoes are sold at Xavier School—it has also caught the attention of another market, consisting of mature women.
“These older women aged 50 and up are besieged with different foot conditions and often complain of pain in their knees and lower back. As long as the shoes alleviate the pain, they are happy,” he said. “They’re not after fashion shoes anymore; they just want shoes that fit well and that don’t make their feet hurt.
Another thing that sets Dr. Kong apart from other shoe brands is the extra time needed to find out the condition of your feet, and whether you will require one of the three insoles that are sold separately.
Using professional equipment, the staff measures the client’s footprint to assess foot development. This involves standing barefoot on a lighted box and doing three lunges per foot. Once the client’s feet have been assessed, the staff will recommend suitable shoes and insoles (if needed).
This unique “Check & Fit” foot examination service is offered at no extra cost to help educate customers about the condition of mothers’ and their children’s feet.
Dr. Kong stores are at Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Magnolia, Robinsons Manila, Sekai Center Bldg. in Greenhills, San Juan, and SM Aura Premier.