As you might guess, minimalist footwear means just what the name implies: the absolute minimal covering you can get by with short of leaving your feet naked. Typically, the underside of this style of shoe is very thin and flexible, made of some kind of fabricated (and usually puncture-resistant) rubber just a few millimeters thick. There’s no heel, no midfoot cushioning, no arch support, and nothing to give the shoes structure; in fact, most shoes of this variety can be rolled upon themselves like a sleeping bag.
There’s a lot of variation in this category of footwear, however, with some models designed for running, and others for everyday use. Some of the more prominent players are:
Vivo Barefoot: A small subdivision of Terra Plana, which is itself an eco-friendly offshoot of the very successful Clark brand footwear. They emphasize socially responsible manufacturing and have the most extensive product line among minimalist shoemakers. Some of their styles are formal enough to be worn to church or at the office, while others are perfect for casual get-togethers. They don’t have a running-specific model yet, but are developing a line of performance shoes scheduled for release in spring of 2010.
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