Minimal Schminimal – Barefoot Fad On Way Out?

Every shoe has its place, and for some that place is on your feet as you cross cold tiled floors to hit the bathroom at 3 in the morning. The last pair of Vibrams that I saw as I was leaving Boulder, Colorado were these nasty suede skin-coloured numbers on a hipster ordering a beer at the Laughing Goat on Pearl Street. How appropriate, I thought, considering that about a mile further down that same historic street, The Boulder Running Company is selling maybe 6 pairs a month of these toilet-shufflers, while at the same time selling 200-300 pairs of Hoka One One Mafate, Bondi, and Stinsons.

Even as a recent addition to the Hoka catalogue, I ran briefly on the weekend in Moab with a dude who’s already on his second pair of Stinsons. He got about 450 miles (only 700km) out of his first pair before they felt flat. This is because they use probably the softest EVA in the Hoka workshop, but he still went and got 2 more pairs. It seems the thing thata lot of people (or maybe a small group of loud people) don’t get is that Hoka are trying to harness and develop new technologies in a different way. There may be some durability issues that are being addressed gradually as the shoe evolves, but the benefits – for many people at least – radically outweigh their reservations. And with what seem to be tougher outsoles coming on the 2012 lines, this issue will diminish in time.

Early adopters and outliers, though, will likely continue to have a blast, as fencesitters gripe and moan. Ha! To them I say that Hoka aren’t for everyone, just like downhill skiing, iPhones, and Kanye West.

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