The Story Behind Vivo Barefoot Shoes

We recently introduced Terra Plana’s Vivo Barefoot Shoes here on the website.  What we think is cool about these shoes is not only are they eco-friendly and good for your feet, but they actually look like shoes you could wear and public and not be afraid of being laughed at (sorry FiveFingers).

For the times you can’t wear athletic shoes the Vivo Barefoot shoes are a great supplement to your barefoot lifestyle and for others a great addition to their wardrobe.

More interesting, though, than the great looks of these shoes is the story of how these shoes came into existence.   There is a great article about barefoot shoes and barefoot walking that was done by New York Magazine.  In that article they talk about Vivo Barefoot shoes and how they started:

in 2000, Clark…[owner of Terra Plana]…was approached by Tim Brennan, a young industrial-design student at the Royal College of Art. Brennan was an avid tennis player who suffered from chronic knee and ankle injuries. His father taught the Alexander Technique, a discipline that studies the links between kinetics and behavior; basically, the connection between how we move and how we act. Brennan’s father encouraged Tim to try playing tennis barefoot. Tim was skeptical at first, but tried it, and found that his injuries disappeared. So he set out to design a shoe that was barely a shoe at all: no padding, no arch support, no heel. His prototype consisted of a thin fabric upper with a microthin latex-rubber sole. It wasn’t exactly a new idea. It was a modern update of the 600-year-old moccasin.

Later the author of the article decided to try a pair of Vivo Barefoot shoes to see what the buzz was about. He discovered…

After wearing the Barefoots for a while, though, I found I really liked them, precisely because you can feel the ground—you can tell if you’re walking on cobblestones, asphalt, a manhole, or a subway grate. (Striding along that nubby yellow warning strip on the subway platform feels like a foot massage.) Of course, it’s not often that you walk around New York, see something on the ground, and think, I wish I could feel that with my foot. But this kind of walking is a revelation. Not only does it change your step, but it changes your perceptions. As you stroll, your perception stops being so horizontal—i.e., confined more or less to eye level—and starts feeling vertical or, better yet, 360 degrees. You have a new sense of what’s all around you, including underneath.

The author was not as concerned about the benefits of the shoes, but the experience the shoes gave him that other shoes didn’t allow him to have.  To him walking in these shoes was a “revelation.”  So if you are looking to have your own revelation (and maybe you aren’t buying into the whole barefoot is better movement) than the Vivo Barefoot Shoes are definitely worth looking into.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • steve February 11, 2010, 9:54 pm

    Vivo Barefoot shoes are a great concept…but they’re ugly. I’m totally embarrassed to wear them. They’re as embarrassing to wear as Prada Sport shoes. Has anybody ever heard the term “Prada Ugly”?

    keep the concept…get better a better designer.

    Reply
  • sethshapiro February 11, 2010, 10:17 pm

    I kind of agree with you steve. but it depends on your style as well. I’m not sure if you can compare them to plain running shoes like new balance or nike, these have a different look to it and you can wear them with “going out” clothes. Same with the Vibram Five Fingers, you have to have some confidence to sport them.

    I’m not Peter Cetera or Lady Gaga (or somebody that is cool these days) but I can picture somebody like the new rockstars and rappers sporting them. As I can picture them sporting Prada Sports shoes as well.

    Reply
  • Barb Banse July 1, 2012, 6:27 am

    I stand on my feet all day & I like to walk each day but I’m having some problems with my feet so I have to give up my walking. I have a hammer toe & I also get hairline cracks in my foot so is there a shoe you could suggest for me.
    Thanks Barb

    Reply
  • marguerite osler December 28, 2013, 2:19 am

    I am an Alexander Technique teacher. Author of ‘The Art of Walking’. Tennis player . I wish to contact Tim Brennan with queries on my experience playing tennis (minimalist shoes) and physical effects etc. Or someone in VivoBarefoot

    Reply

Leave a Comment