Protégé: The High Heels Brand Promising The Most Comfortable Stilettos in the World

Editor @LaFenêtre
La Fenêtre Magazine
3 min readApr 5, 2022


Protégé is a new woman-founded high-end footwear brand by MIT graduate Candace Chen, focused on engineering truly painless high heels without sacrificing style.

Candace Chen, groundbreaking Mechanical Engineer, Designer, and Founder of Protégé. Her innovation and timeless designs are stepping out onto the $37.8b heels industry with her premium essential collection, “The Painless Stiletto”.

Anyone who has spent a night out dancing in high heels knows the excruciating pain of the walk home. But with a $37.8b high heels industry, women’s comfort is still not a consideration for the majority of the market.

All that is about to change with Candace Chen, groundbreaking Mechanical Engineer and Founder of Protégé high-end footwear, who has made it her mission to create truly painless high heels without sacrificing style.

“Women usually have to choose between more practical footwear or being forced to be uncomfortable in their heels. I have especially sensitive feet, and always dreaded the torn skin, blisters, and pain that followed an important work meeting or night out in my heels. With Protégé, our mission is to ensure that women don’t have to make that choice — we can focus on presenting our best, most confident selves all of the time.”

As an MIT graduate with a decade of experience in product design, development, and operations under her belt, Chen never thought she would find herself in the world of fashion. But after an especially painful night out dancing, a lightbulb went on for her. “I realized how little effort was being put into design and development towards making shoes comfortable and stable. Many of these high heels are designed by men and are simply not meant to be comfortable. But shoes can be both works of art as well as not cause women physical pain.”

So she went to prototyping and designing her own product. Starting with tearing apart countless thrift store heels, only to discover their lack of comfort padding (most were made with just a thin layer of plastic or cardboard) she was even more determined to innovate a model that had never been done before.

“Protégé means student in French. To me, the brand is all about approaching problems with a fresh perspective, consistent innovation, and constantly pushing the boundaries. When someone says it can’t be done, prove them wrong.”

After 18 months and 67 iterations of engineering her prototype, she landed on “The Painless Stiletto” — designed to reflect the most popular, classic, and timeless high heel styles worn from the Met Gala to the upscale W Hotel Lounge, where she did some of her market research.

The innovative design of “The Painless Stiletto” provides luxurious triple-layer forefoot padding, a foam-padded toe strap, a hidden toe post, and even arch support and a quick-disconnect ankle strap. Ankle straps are customizable, and the design comes in black, white, and nude varieties.

The design is “like walking on a cloud,” with customers sharing that they have “never experienced such a lack of worry and anxiety around having a time limit on their evening out.”

“The Painless Stiletto” by Protégé

Protégé footwear is designed to stay stable and comfortable all night long. You could forget you were wearing it if it weren’t for all the compliments!

Follow Protégé on Instagram and experience the chic comfort yourself by visiting their website.