Aspen Times Weekly: ‘Folding Shoe’? Try the Vibram Furoshiki
The company that brought the world shoes with toes in its FiveFingers line has introduced footwear modeled after traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. I know, that sentence makes almost zero sense.
At first glance, neither do these shoes. Advertised as “outsoles that wrap around your foot,” the Vibram Furoshiki shoes are essentially rubber soles adorned with a swath of stretchy fabric.
A wearer “folds” them on, using Velcro as the securing mechanism in lieu of laces. Each fabric end catches a tab once wrapped and folds fully onto the heel.
Toes move freely inside of what feel like socks with a thin tread. Rubber phalanges snake up each side.
I tested them out this week. You put a Furoshiki on the floor and step on top. Now, grab the fabric and wrap your foot.
Walk around and the Furoshikis feel like minimalist house slippers you’d put on at night. They weigh almost nothing, and they roll up small; you could store them in a pocket, folded and ready to deploy.
Had this shoe come out a few years back “barefoot” runners, the same ones who ate up the FiveFingers line, might have bought the Furoshikis in droves. The foot can move free, and “ground feel” is off the charts.
The tread molds to every bump or crack on the ground, and the fabric stretches in what’s sold as an upper that can fit any foot.
I walked around one day, comfortable enough in the hardly-there shoes, though also somewhat perplexed at the best place to wear them in the outdoors.
Furoshiki is the Japanese art of packaging items by wrapping them in fabric. Think of a fun, fancy way to wrap a gift.
Now apply that to shoes. Add a $110 price tag, and you have what is one of the wildest ideas in footwear this year.
The Furoshiki line hits wide release soon. Wrap one on for a test walk if you can, these Vibrams are a hoot and an interesting diversion in the coursing evolution of new things to put on your foot.
Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at http://www.gearjunkie.com.
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