Vibram Five Fingers Shoes

I was just talking with a friend about a product he thought had an excellent user experience.  It is the Vibram FiveFingers shoe.  These are really cool looking to me and I can easily see how they might be very comfortable.  My friend said that they changed his life.  He walks more now, hikes more.  He feels more comfortable.

I imediately called my wife and told her that I wanted to buy her a pair.  She balked!  “No way!  They look riddiculous”.  I tried it on another woman and got a similar response.  Apparently this product, although innovative and interesting, is failing to use Emotional Design principles to turn it into a success.

It’s a difficult hump for Vibram to get over.  Until it’s cool, it is clearly uncool.  It would take a “fad” of sorts to make it acceptable and then the benefits of comfort would seal the deal.  I hope it happens, because proper footwear is the hallmark of a great society.  If I were Vibram, I would give it away to cool kids and celebrities.  You have got to start a fad.  Check  out the Tipping Point for exact instructions on how to make this happen.  (By the way, I am a size 10.5)


What do you think?  Would you wear it?

6 replies on “Vibram Five Fingers Shoes”

I’m not convinced your survey accurately reflects how others react to fivefingers. Ask any regular VFF wearer and you’ll get a similar response: wearing fivefingers will spur all sorts of positive comments from random strangers who pull a double-take when they see your feet.

Having said that, and though I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from strangers who are women, my wife’s reaction to VFFs on first seeing them was something like “they are hideous.”

And let’s face it: were fivefingers to become a huge trend, would it really be so surprising? Just look at Crocs or Uggs for prior examples of ugly footwear becoming mainstream, and in both of those cases, neither has the compelling backstory of VFFs — pseudo-barefootedness, improved posture, stronger feet: harmony with biomechanical engineering.

Beyond that, your friend is just one of many fivefinger true believers, all of whom are going about their day advertising this unusual footwear indirectly and then having brief conversations with friends and random others about their fivefingers.

My hunch is the tipping point is just around the corner.

Full disclosure: I’m a true believer myself, and created a fan site for fivefingers, which I call my birthday shoes:

They look ridiculous. Some actual science on their website, not just unfounded claims, would be nice too.

Women will almost always choose style and conformity over comfort and utility. Do you know that women’s shoes give them blisters for weeks when they first buy them? Why would they deal with that. Who are they wearing these shoes for? It certainly isn’t themselves and it certainly isn’t men (I have never met in one man who likes the looks of those super pointy-toe shoes that women wear). So they wear them to impress other women (but they should know better). A would much rather prefer a happy women wearing keds than a girl who has to suffer (even slightly) to don a pair of pumps.

I would wear these finger shoes if they really made me more comfortable. However, I think having something between my toes might drive me crazy. And I don’t know how they fit, it seems they would have to be a perfect fit. Plus they are all saddles or low cut and I’m not a fan of that.

Dan — a little sexist there aren’t we? Not all women buy shoes that give them blisters for weeks nor do we all sacrifice comfort for style in our footwear.

I think the point is that men generally don’t wear uncomfortable shoes. High heels accentuate the calf muscles and generally are thought to make a women’s body look more attractive. However, they aren’t easy to walk in and certainly are not designed for comfort. Not all women wear them, but they wear them alot more than men.

Women also wear makeup and other accoutrements that take time and energy to apply. Generally, long hair requires more maintenance than short hair. These are all things designed to make one more attractive.

The main point is: Let’s assume these shoes are VERY comfortable. Why would the way they LOOK matter? The answer is because “looking good” is more important than “feeling good”. And this is MORE true in general for women than for men.

I think women and men are not identical and have plenty of scientific, sociological and psychological reasons for these decisions. No rule applies to everyone, but I think these statements above are pretty accurate.

In Vibram FiveFingers, your feet can move naturally and flex easily. Five individual toe slots let your toes separate gently, stabilizing your body and providing unrivaled balance and increased muscle stimulation to feet, ankles and lower legs. And it enhances feedback and lowers your center of gravity to improve balance and agility
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Whatya think?