Earlier this summer, I predicted Sketchers would kill the minimalist movement. After hearing several reports regarding their new minimalist shoe, I admit I was probably wrong. It appears as if their design team actually made a decent shoe.
So if Sketchers doesn’t occupy the bottom of the minimalist shoe hierarchy, who does?
I present the Fila Skeletoes Amp:
Most of us laughed off the original Skeletoes. They were clearly a Five Fingers knock-off, and a poorly-executed one at that. I handled one in a store- it felt like I should be buying the shoe from a shifty-eyed trench coat-wearing street vendor on the wrong side of the tracks. I was content with allowing my peers to rip the apart (or fall apart, as it were.)
Then they designed the Amp and the similar Voltage.
The shoes are essentially lightweight cushioned trainers with articulated toes. If you’ve read my stuff before, you know I really hate cushioning. The empirical evidence is pretty clear- increased cushioning under foot results in higher ground reaction forces. A thicker, hard sole could be useful for added protection, but cushioning really doesn’t serve a useful purpose other than perceived comfort in the showroom. We all now how that has played out over the last few decades…
Of course, I haven’t tried these shoes. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them in the next Olympic trials. Or maybe an end-cap at Walmart. I wonder if Fila’s PR team would let me review these. I’m going out on a limb and guessing they’re probably not going to risk the shoe facing real scrutiny. In fact, I would be shocked to see these reviewed by anyone with serious minimalist shoe ‘cred. How confident are you in the product, Fila?
I’m a fan of companies that create. Vibram is one such company. The original Five Fingers was a great product. I’m even okay with companies copying ideas as long as it leads to significant improvements. Combining two toes? Come on. That seems more like a shoddy attempt to circumvent a patent.
It’s sad Fila has to rip off Vibram’s articulated toe idea. They have the resources to produce genuinely innovative products. It’s even more sad this is the direction they’re going.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh?