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Fila Skeletoes Amp and Skeletoes Voltage: Sketchers, Meet Your Replacement

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 | 8 Comments

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?

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8 Comments

  1. patrick
    November 6, 2011

    Did anyone notice that this shoe only has 4 toes? o.O I’m from Europe but I didn’t think you people in America were that different :P .
    Aside from that, I think they’re ridiculous…

  2. corey
    November 5, 2011

    Why do you think it is OK to patent a 5-toed design?

    Does anyone own a patent on gloves?

  3. John
    November 2, 2011

    I doubt, with all sincerity, that these Fila cum Fivefingers will work. The thickness of the sole will inhibit any ability of the toes to spread/splay properly, and we’ve all seen the work of Lieberman, et al. as it pertains to cushioning vs. barefoot. Fila just seems like they’re desperately trying to jump on the VFF bandwagon…and with disastrous results.

  4. BarefootTJ
    November 2, 2011

    I happen to think credible minshoe reviewers SHOULD review this shoe. After all, it’s their take on things that many people look up to. If these are crap, then they will report it as such. If not, then…

    Also, although the separated toe compartments bother me, probably just a me-thing though, I can see where having the last two compartments combined into one might be helpful to those who have short pinkie toes. This would help keep their pinkie toes from jumping ship and stowing away in the nearby compartment, since it’s already there. ;-)

    Looks like they not only “borrowed” Vibrams idea with the toe compartments, but the Nike Free’s sole as well. To me, this shoe looks like another crappy-ass concoction just trying to find a place in the new market. -TJ

  5. Wiglaf
    November 2, 2011

    She’s definitely not rocking here:
    http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/48785

  6. Wiglaf
    November 2, 2011

    “Rock my Adidas Vibrams; never rock Fila.”

  7. Pablo
    November 2, 2011

    Not harsh enough in my opinion. Maybe that will come after (if) you try them.

  8. Trish Reeves
    November 2, 2011

    No, I think it’s a fair assessment. The whole point of articulated toes is added toe movement. With several mm of cushion, your toes won’t be able to move at all it’s a poor design modeled after another company’s invention. Sketchers loses ground with every new gimmicky product they make. Maybe they fool some folks, but probably not for long. You see how the shape-ups went.