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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My latest adventure climbing through the jungles of the World Wide Web sent me in search of the ever elusive eco-shoe… (and here’s the catch) that is actually cute. A few clicks and not-quite-rights later, I stumbled upon Terra Plana.
The script read right for the eco part of eco-couture- “Inspired by ecological survival, TERRA PLANA believes in a variety of non-generic products supporting ideas of sustainability: lightness, anatomic design, disassembly and durability
,” but could these shoes walk the catwalk?
In my humble opinion the answer is yes yes and yes. On top of that, I think that these peep toe sling-back high heels you see up top could hop right off the catwalk and make the walk to work with their recycled memory foam lining. High heels with memory foam lining? Recycled??? We really are getting somewhere, folks.
What made these shoes my favorite, if anyone was asking, is that they pack a colorful punch and ecological soul power from incorporating recycled Pakistani quilts in their upper. This makes each of these gorgeous ladies unique in their own way, as if they weren’t unique enough already.
Terra Plana makes mens and kids shoes too, as well as a series that mocks what it’s like to go barefoot, so you can get the health benefits of walking the way nature intended (without exposure to all that street funk you don’t need between your toes). With at least one part of every shoe design coming from recycled material and an attention to wise and healthy material use, Terra Plana aims to come closer to the true sustainable shoe with each collection. Now that’s something to put on your party shoes and dance to.
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VivoBarefoot as seen in NYTimes.
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VivoBarefoot Aqua Red
& Root White as seen in NYTimes
Joanna Hall wears VivoBarefoot Lucy in this month’s Zest Magazine, with an additional competition to win a pair.
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Terra Plana is offering all webcustomers an amazing end of season offer. Buy one pair, and get 50% off a second pair. This offer will run from 27th-31st August.
Shop Mens >
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Terms & Conditions:
Buy 1 get 2nd pair 1/2 price will apply the discount to the lowest marked item. All refunds must be received within 30 days and entire order must be returned in full. Refunds will be given on a single item ONLY if that item is found to be faulty at the discretion of the Web Manager. There will be no refunds given on a single item when use of the promotion was in place. All exchanges must be processed within 30 days. If requested exchange item is sold out you will not receive a refund and must find a substitute from current stock. This offer cannot be redeemed in conjunction with another coupon. All other Terms and Conditions still apply.
Benefits of Barefoot: Special Offer for Huffington Post Readers
By Hillary Newman
I’ve always been a runner- or at least I was until I ‘ran’ into knee trouble a few years ago. Now, you could call me an elipicalist. While VH1′s I Love the 90s always gears me up for a sweaty workout, there is nothing I crave more than opening my front door and taking off. So when I learned about a new shoe technology developed to help runners, I did a little investigating.
Terra Plana, an ethical shoe company, created Vivobarefoot – a shoe line that is designed to achieve the benefits of walking and running barefoot. Upon hearing about these shoes, I immediately thought about my childhood, a time when I embraced a shoeless lifestyle. However, after a bit more research, I discovered that the benefits of being barefoot might surpass the freedom I has as toddler. Join me on my quest to learn more about Vivobarefoot and Terra Plana as I interview the owner, Galahad Clark.
In a nutshell, what is the argument supporting the Vivobarefoot technology?
Quite simple actually – walking barefoot is good for you.
Vivobarefoot has an ultra thin puncture resistant sole that gives the protection of normal shoes and all the benefits of walking barefoot – including the natural alignment of one’s posture.
How do you describe the person who wears Terra Plana shoes?
They might not know where they are going, but they know the way.
What are some or your favorite eco-friendly materials used to produce Terra Plana shoes?
Mesh from recycled pet bottles
Vegetable tan leather
Quilts from the swami tribe in northern Pakistan
Recycled e-max – ultra lightweight abrasion resistant soling material
Duratex in the Vivobarefoot shoes
Terra Plana has stores all over the world, including New York, Vienna and Ljubjilana to name a few. How has living and breathing in so many diverse places influenced Terra Plana?
Sustainability is a global issue and we learn so much and are inspired by different areas and partners around the world…
In your opinion, how can the retail industry produce more sustainably?
Produce less, but also more consumer education and training of staff to engage with consumers.
It is a very complex issue with many angles and layers (1000 ways to skin the eco-shoe)
Ultimately there should be a labeling system that creates transparency inspired by life cycle analysis. This will either be led by a government body or an industry group.
Companies like Nike and Timberland are leading the way at the moment in the shoe industry, but not many people truly comprehend the efforts they are making yet.
Any words of advice for the novice designer?
Keep things simple.
Create concept and identity.
Try to make a product beautiful from the inside and out.
Sustainable design is really just good design: The products function, are beautiful, efficient, relevant, durable, timeless.
(just like a successful part of the eco system if a product is none of the above then it won’t survive long and will go extinct)
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